Troubled pupils need doctors

27th June 2003 at 01:00
HAS it crossed anyone's mind that the reason pupil-referral units cannot cope with the children they receive is because they are educational establishments attempting to deal with what is chiefly a medical problem? In many cases they are dealing with children who are far too sick to access education.

It is a grave cause for concern that so few people seem to accept that children can be mentally ill, or that they need proper and appropriate care. The same behaviours can be seen in adults and children, yet usually only adults receive appropriate treatment and hospitalisation.

PRUs work valiantly with disturbed children and it is a disgrace that they should be considered "failing". The Office for Standards in Education would not have the temerity to inspect a psychiatric hospital and suggest it was failing because of the disturbed behaviour of its patients.

Sadly, therapeutic hospital schools which had developed expertise in caring for disturbed children have been closed. How short-sighted that was, and how typical of the Government to have expectations of PRUs that are impossible for them to meet. New Labour is now in the same position of not listening to those at the grassroots, as was the previous Conservative government.

I am grieved that disturbed children, some of whom I suspect may have been physically, sexually or emotionally abused, and some who are self-harming or have suicidal tendencies, continue to receive inappropriate, inadequate treatment and education.

Their problems will, if they survive, follow them into adult life, many of them ending up in prisons, on the streets or in psychiatric hospitals.

The financial and human cost of turning a blind eye to the issue of child and adolescent mental illness is far greater than that of giving it the acknowledgement and priority it rightly deserves.

Christine Lees

13 Islestone Court

Berwick-upon-Tweed Northumberland

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today