Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Virtual Meeting - Online access

Contact: Mark Beeley  01628 796345 / Email:

Video Stream: Click here to watch this meeting on YouTube

No. Item


Apologies for Absence

To receive any apologies for absence.


There were no apologies for absence received. The Chairman was running late so Councillor Coppinger began the meeting as Chairman.


Declarations of Interest pdf icon PDF 103 KB

To receive any declarations of interest.


There were no declarations of interest received.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 214 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 7th June 2021.


RESOLVED UNANIMOUSLY: That the minutes of the meeting held on 7th June 2021 were approved as an accurate record.


Mental Health and Wellbeing in RBWM Schools

To hear from Rebecca Askew.


Rebecca Askew, Senior Specialist Educational Psychologist - Wellbeing, gave a presentation on mental health and wellbeing within schools. There was a rising prevalence of mental health difficulties, with one in eight children having mental health needs. There was also a rising level of suicide in under 25s. Over the past few years, a significant amount of progress had been made. There was more recognition that there was an overlap between mental health and physical illness. In RBWM, the universal offer of youth services had been reduced but were doing well in the family hubs. The team had seen an increase in the number of eating disorders and disordered eating, which was where a child could possibly be eating the same thing each day and therefore not getting a balanced diet. High numbers of referrals were happening for anxiety.


Looking at the national data, over 190,000 18 year olds were referred to children and young people’s mental health services between April 2021 and June 2021, this was an increase when compared to the previous year. An increase in 80% of young people had been referred to crisis care. Recently a survey had been undertaken on health and wellbeing, which had been run by Oxford University and was sent out to RBWM schools who could then help children fill it out. The data from this survey could be used to help develop plans and inform the local transformation plan. Questions covered things like bullying and access to services, it had been clear from the survey results that a number of children preferred not to access mental health services in a school setting and would use the internet after school instead. Of all the year groups, students from Years 11 and 12 seemed to be most affected during the first survey.


Rebecca Askew explained that she managed the Wellbeing team of therapists who could offer help and support to young people, the only requirement was that they attended a school in RBWM. Each wellbeing practitioner was linked to a school in the borough so they could offer advice and support on an ad-hoc basis. They also supported children and young people 1 to 1 and in small groups through the Early Help Hub and Social Care. The RBWM wellbeing team had been decreasing in size but referrals through early help had doubled during the past year. Waiting times for the ‘getting help’ team were favourable in RBWM compared to its other East Berkshire neighbours Slough and Bracknell. Mental health support teams were in place at 14 different schools across the borough which had been launched in September. Individual and group support, as well as peer mentoring, would be offered and the teams would be hosting whole school assemblies and embedding a whole school approach for mental health and wellbeing in each school.


Councillor Coppinger thanked Rebecca Askew for the presentation and asked for the presentation to be circulated after the meeting to the Forum.


ACTION – Mark Beeley to circulate presentation to the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 94.


SEMH Programme impact within our schools

To hear from Alasdair Whitelaw.


Alasdair Whitelaw, SEMH Coordinator, gave a presentation on SEMH programme impact within schools across RBWM. The social, emotional and mental health project had been running since 2019 and was due to end at Easter 2022. It was a statutory requirement for schools to make reasonable adjustments to meet the needs of children with complex SEMH. The project was developed as there had been a rise in the number of exclusions, particularly at primary school. Alasdair Whitelaw had spent some time in different primary schools understanding the behavioural needs of some children and the communication links between teachers and parents. In total, the team had visited 21 schools which was 21 families who had received specialist support and help. Some funding had recently been secured which would allow for a secondary model to be trialled across six schools over 2021 and 2022. The most positive outcome of the trial was that no child involved was excluded. Exclusions had come down as a result of the project but had not been eliminated entirely. Looking at some of the feedback from headteachers on the project, 16 of the 21 said that the outcomes of the project were fully met, while 3 headteachers believed that the outcomes had been partly met, while the other two still had the project ongoing.


Judith Street, Headteacher at Queen Anne First School, explained that the project had helped a child who was a concern and had been excluded previously. As a result of the project, there had been a significant change in the child’s behaviour and also the schools strength and confidence in supporting children with their own individual needs. A really important aspect of the project was the link between the parents and the school which was guided by the coach, who was part of the project. Judith Street thanked Alasdair Whitelaw and his team for all their help and support with the project.


Alasdair Whitelaw said that the project had also allowed a license to be purchased for all schools in RBWM to have an online Boxall profile, which was an assessment tool that identified strengths and weaknesses for each child. Progress could be tracked and RBWM was the first borough in the country to be offering this to all its schools. An SEMH email had been set up which allowed headteachers to email the team directly for any children who were at risk of exclusion, within 24 hours advice could be offered. Alasdair Whitelaw concluded by explaining that a paper would be taken to the Schools Forum in November 2021 with recommendations derived from the working group of headteachers which would outline the potential ongoing services to be agreed and funded.


The Chairman said that he was pleased to hear about the positive feedback from headteachers, the project had made a positive difference and it continued to do so. He thanked Alasdair Whitelaw for his leadership on the project. The Chairman asked what the challenges were of integrating services together and asked if more services  ...  view the full minutes text for item 95.


Dates of Future Meetings

·       Monday 7th February 2022 at 5pm


The next meeting would be on Monday 7th February 2022, starting at 5pm.