Save the Education Unit at Leigh House!

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Leigh House Hospital is a psychiatric service for children and adolescents aged 12-18, in Winchester. It currently has an excellent Education Unit (one of the best in the country as part of a hospital), which is vital for the long-term recovery of young people suffering from acute mental health illness.

At a time when funding for Mental Health services should be increasing, Hampshire County Council are proposing dramatic changes to the staffing and curriculum of the unit, which threatens to undermine their incredible service. Changing the contracts of merely 13 staff members will do little to cut costs, but will have a drastic impact on the recovery of young people. The main changes are as follows: 

  • Qualified teachers will be replaced with unqualified tutors to save money, which means that young people will not be able to complete GCSEs and A-Levels whilst in hospital. 
  • Staff will be on reduced salaries, working longer hours and all throughout the year (away from a term-time approach). This means pupils will not be following that which their peers outside of hospital are, making reintegration difficult. 
  • Changes will mean that staff can be deployed to other education settings and hospitals, meaning that the teaching may not be appropriate to the young people's educational needs. Further, resources will be spread very thinly, so the overall standard of education will be impacted.

This petition aims to at least ensure that this consultation proceeds with the inclusion of current and past service users, as well as others who will be affected by the changes. It also aims to maintain the current terms and conditions that the teachers have in their contracts, to emphasise that the services at Leigh House should be an exemplar of an excellent hospital Education Unit - not an exception. 

Please help by signing the petition, to benefit the recovery of the service users, and the teaching staff at Leigh House! 

Link to a 360 tour of Leigh House, and one of its education rooms... http://www.360spin.co.uk/leighhouse/

*****UPDATE*****

We've had further information provided from the County Education Manager:

"HCC are proposing to introduce a new qualified Senior/Tutor role to deliver an enhanced curriculum offer across services, and will continue to employ qualified practitioners." - Nevertheless, qualified teacher status is not a requirement, which is not en par with schools outside of hospital. Further, it was not clarified what was meant by the repeated use of the word "practitioner" instead of "teacher", or what an "enhanced curriculum" means. 

"We will be supporting young people to study at entry level to level 3. This includes GCSEs and A level." - But I have not had assurance that these students will be able to take their exams in hospitaland the lack of registered teachers to teach the curriculum will likely make this difficult.

"The wider service restructure will create capacity to enhance careers guidance and outdoor learning opportunities across our secure and specialist provision." - At Leigh House, they have excellent post-16 facilities to prepare young people in an appropriate way for their futures (e.g. interview prep, personal statement prep). Further, the activities coordinators and occupational therapists regularly organise outdoor learning opportunities separate from the education unit; if this is lacking, investment in this area should be a priority.

"We are actively exploring what measure may be applied to mitigate the potential impact on individuals should the proposal be adopted." - There is acknowledgement that the proposal could have a negative impact on the individuals concerned. This is entirely avoidable. 

Unfortunately, they have not been able to assure me that both the teachers and young people will not be worse off if these changes are put in place. 

The council has acknowledged there may be an impact on the young people at Leigh House, but have been persistent in their wish to not involve them in this consultation process. Further, they have not provided any reasons that warrant a restructure, although have stated changes are not for financial reasons, although the teachers will be receiving a pay cut. The 2018 CQC report of Leigh House states "the... school boasted outstanding outcomes for the young people using the education provision". Why reinvent the wheel?