9 September 2019

As Sowenna, Cornwall’s new 14 bed child and adolescent mental health unit in Bodmin, gets ready to open its doors, staff from Wave Multi Academy Trust are putting the finishing touches to the new education suite which will provide the children and young people with access to education services while they are receiving specialist medical treatment.

Wave MAT provides high quality education for pupils in Cornwall and Devon who have been excluded from school or who are not in school for medical reasons. With a clear track record for delivering outstanding education in a health environment, earlier this year WAVE was commissioned by Cornwall Council to provide education services for children and young people staying at Sowenna. With the unit due to formally open next week, Wave’s education team are looking forward to welcoming their first students.

We will be providing high quality holistic education services which meet the individual needs of the young people receiving treatment at Sowenna” said Head of Education Jayne Brigg. “We know that education is an essential part of recovery for these young people. We will be working closely with the clinicians at Sowenna and staff from schools and colleges to provide each young person with a creative and innovative personalised programme which will enable them to continue their education while they are receiving treatment and then support their re-integration into school, college or work.”

Previously Assistant Headteacher at Doubletrees Special School in St. Blazey, Jayne says she feels incredibly lucky to have been chosen to head the new education suite. “This is a real once in a lifetime opportunity to be able to work in a unit like Sowenna and to be part of this amazing adventure” she said.

Based across five rooms, including a main education room; a daily living area and wet area which will support cooking and wet activities; a music room offering access to both classical and digital music; and a sensory / quiet room, as well as a gym and an outdoor activity barn, the education team will provide young people with up to four hours of education per day over a six term year.

With support from teacher Jonathan King and Higher Level Teaching Assistants Julie Williams and Kaye Chapman, Jayne and the team will work with specialist teachers from Wave’s Community Hospital Education Service to deliver a full range of core academic subjects, as well as an enrichment programme including art, sculpture, music and drama.

Helen Casson is Wave’s Executive Principal of Medical Provision and says that the Sowenna education suite is a fantastic addition to the service. “CHES staff already work with schools and colleges across Cornwall and Devon and with health partners to provide high quality education for children and young people with medical barriers which means they are unable to attend mainstream schools receiving treatment in the community. Our staff will now provide the same support to the young people at Sowenna.”

The unit will become the first in Cornwall to adopt a six term model, with six weeks of term time followed by a two week ‘holiday’ period during which time the young people will be offered their choice of enrichment courses.

Teacher Jonathan King is also looking forward to starting his new job. “This is the first time I will have worked in a setting like this but I can’t wait to begin” he said. “It is really important for the young people to keep up with their education while they are recovering and it is a great privilege to have the opportunity to support them in achieving this.”

Research shows that an estimated 1 in 10 young people aged between 5 and 16 experience mental health difficulties. While most can be treated and supported within the community, some require a more intensive programme of treatment and care.

For children and young people with severe mental issues this has previously meant travelling hundreds of miles away from their family and friends to hospitals in Birmingham, Essex, Kent and Cheshire to access specialist psychiatric treatment. The opening of the new unit will mean that young people from Cornwall can be treated closer to home, enabling them to maintain their relationships and friendships.

WAVE Chief Executive Rob Gasson says the opening of Sowenna will be life changing for children and families in Cornwall and he is very proud that Wave has been chosen to be part of the ground breaking new provision.

“Our current CHES service has been judged as “Outstanding” by Ofsted and we are looking forward to being able to provide the same high quality services for young people at Sowenna” he said.

“We are proud of the quality of education we are providing for young people across Cornwall and Devon. The opening of this new unit will deliver a joined up approach to the education of young people in Cornwall who require this form of medical intervention and ensure that their education can continue throughout their treatment.”