I contacted the ALS department at my placement to find out how to help students with depression. They separated what they did by one to one sessions and group sessions.
The ALS use what they call the crystal model, in which they ask indirect questions to determine how much sleep the student gets, the nutritional value of their diet and how much exercise they do a week. They claim that by asking indirect questions the student is more likely to tell the truth. The learning support worker will help arrange out of school and in school activities to address the area that they determine needs improvement, for instance arranging and attending boxing lessons with the learner. Another one to one activity the ALS organised was a day of work experience driving London underground trains. Each student has an educational, health and care plan (EHCP) personalised to them. The above questioning makes up a significant amount of the content of the students EHCPs. Counselling is also carried out by the learner support workers. The counselling is heavily influenced by cognitive behavioural therapy. Though they do not have the qualifications to carry CBT sessions out, they can embed the approach in counselling sessions.
In the group initiatives done by the ALS, one of the activities is an after-school session on a Wednesday. These sessions consist of games aimed at building confidence and self-esteem through developing friendships and communication skills. Such an activity could be air hockey, which though sounds simple presents the students with something they can all engage with together. It also helps develop hand eye coordination which some of the students struggle with. Filed trips are also organised for groups of students, based around the SEMH model (social, emotional and mental health). These trips either have content from the subjects the students have chosen embedded into them semantically, or holistic concepts embedded such as confidence, friendship or anxiety. These trips also serve to try and increase the memory capacity of the students in accordance with the working memory modal. Again, the trips help to develop a sense of an individual self through communication with others, building self esteem and confidence. The goals that the students must complete are collaborative goals, helping them develop social skills while practising academic skills.
With regard to integrating what I have learnt into my practice, I am currently taking over an A Level class in which one girl is thought to have autism though hasn’t undergone any assessments. It is the girl’s mother who raised the concern. Currently I have been asked to sit with her and another boy who is having organisational problems in order to help them. Though the girl has not undergone any assessments we do know she finds communication with other students difficult. The next lesson is on business ethics, and the lesson includes ethical dilemmas which the students must apply ethical theories to. In the same way the ALS use collaborative goals to increase social competence, I will encourage the students to work together to form questions that when asked will lead them to logical conclusions. By getting them to make their own questions together my talking time should be significantly reduced, and the opportunity to improve self-confidence socially through collaborative work will be provided. I will model a question first in order to help them carry out the task independently.