AV1 for medical needs continues to thrive
AV1 continues to be a lifeline for children and young people (CYP) absent from school with medical and/or physiological conditions.
In many cases, AV1 has not only supported the CYP’s wellbeing during the period of absence, but also relieved their fears and anxieties about returning to school.
“Without the robot the transition back to school would have been far tougher as the student would be dealing with a mental recovery as well as a physical one. Had he not had the contact with his friends that the AV1 gave him, I think he would have felt very disengaged with what was going on at school. The interaction with his peers and teachers meant that it didn’t really feel like not being there.”
– Shelley Mitchell, Attendance and Welfare Officer, Dr Challoner’s Grammar School
AV1 and mental health
The number of students using AV1 for shielding has decreased, but we still see impacts from the pandemic.
More CYP have anxiety and EBSA (emotionally based school avoidance), which are becoming the main causes of prolonged school absence. This makes mental health a growing concern for schools and local authorities.
Many local authorities have adopted AV1 for this reason. For Somerset County Council (50 AV1s) mental health is now the leading reason for loan.
Key learnings for students with EBSA
AV1 demand for students with EBSA has increased. So, we have begun creating tools for local authorities and schools to use it with this group.
While we can't yet boast a 100% success rate, we see evidence that AV1 can reintegrate these pupils back into the classroom.
For those that are successful, the most important factors are careful planning and early intervention. The earlier the intervention, the more likely AV1 will act as a bridge back into the classroom. Challenges occur if the student feels forced to use AV1, if it's perceived as a substitute for counselling or CAMHS intervention, or not introduced carefully.
Our recent case study, The Downs School, demonstrates successful use of AV1 for EBSA. Learn more.
What is clear is that AV1 needs to be one tool of many in the EBSA student toolbox. We recommend considering it when the student still has some desire to be in and engage with school.
AV1 in different school settings
AV1 suits a range of ages and settings. In schools, it has supported CYP aged 4-18 in primary, secondary, further education colleges and AP.
A growing number of CYP are going to school but struggling to get into the classroom. This is where some secondary schools have been using AV1s in new and creative ways.
Examples include: a private room with 1:1 support, SEND/student support centres, and internal exclusion rooms.
“We have used the AV1s for students who are isolated due to behaviour. The AV1 allows us to isolate the behaviour and not the child, giving them access to quality first teaching along with targeted intervention to get them back in lessons but without negative behaviour.”
– Moulsham High School, Essex
Local authorities expanding their offers
Local authorities are the biggest distributor of AV1s to schools in the UK.
The way they loan them takes various forms. Recently, many have found success by adopting a hybrid model. When a student qualifies for medical tuition they are able to loan them for free. Or, if the student's circumstances do not qualify, they charge a small fee to sustain their service.
Persistent absence can be due to a broad range of reasons. The hybrid model means local authorities can support more children and young people's education outside of medical needs.
A fleet of AV1s (10–60) enables local authorities to intervene as soon as a pupil is at risk of prolonged school absence. This prevents the long-term impact, escalation of costs, and need for other AP. The Department for Education's SEND Paper 2022 supports this way of working. It recommends early intervention in mainstream settings and technology for inclusion. Read more about the report and its recommendations here.
The 12 local authorities that have started using AV1 this year, including Warrington Borough Council, Solihull Borough Council and Cumbria County Council.
We provide a wealth of information and resources for local authorities to find use cases and schools.