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The Unicorn School

The Unicorn School

A Specialist School supporting pupils with dyslexia and related learning difficulties


On Tuesday January 15th Mr Richard Venables (High Sherriff of Oxford) officially opened the Unicorn School’s SEMH (Social, Emotional, Mental Health) Hub.

The hub, as it has been christened by the children, will be available for the children who require any additional support at school.


The statistics on children with mental health difficulties are truly staggering:

·         13% (1 in 8) of all children have a clinically diagnosable mental health problem

·         70% of children/adolescents who have mental health problems have not had appropriate interventions at a sufficiently early age. 

·         1 in 6 (17%) of 15-17 year olds suffer from mental health issues. 1 in 4 of girls of that age.

·         2/3 of all children with a mental health disorder were diagnosed as having a recognisable learning difficulty.

·         1 in 5 had a wait of 6 months or more before they could see a professional.

·         2/3rds had a wait of 10 weeks before they could see a professional.


The most worrying statistic of all is the fact that the rise in much younger children is growing exponentially.


At The Unicorn School we are trying to buck the trend here. Instead of making cuts in this area, we are ploughing more money and resources in to this area that our children desperately need. I am indebted to all for their hard work in raising the £50k we needed to build the new Y5/6 classrooms which then allowed us the room to house the Hub. We are indebted to Christ's Hospital who gave the massive donation of £23K to support this venture and to Lady Joan Reid (a huge supporter of the school) who bequeathed us £20k when she sadly passed away last year.


To support our children’s mental health, the first port of call are our very small class sizes and the thorough scheme of work for PSHE that we have designed here. All the teachers know the children incredibly well. We are fortunate that we have many classroom assistants in class too who are there to support the children. From Y3-Y8 each child also sees their very own 1:1 teacher daily. At these sessions the children will often open up and talk to their teacher about any issues/difficulties that they are having.  


At the school we have trained staff to become Emotional Learning Support Assistants. They are very much in demand as the children are able to really open up to them.


We also have available to the children a play therapist and a counsellor. In addition we also run social skills groups through our Speech & Language therapists.


Wea are already cognisant that this may not be enough. We may need even more space and even more resources to help support our children. I am, though, determined that we will offer the children the very best support possible in this area so that they can leave us believing in themselves and have the self-resilience to face the world outside.

On the same afternoon, we were visited by volunteers from the SANE charity. They held workshops for the children on depression and the difference between Mental Health and Mental Well Being.