Express & Star

Helping Our Teens reality show at Sedgley school is putting attendance in spotlight

The world of school is a tough place for some children and pupils from Beacon Hill Academy in Sedgley are being featured on the BBC Two series Helping Our Teens, writes Deborah Hardiman.

Beacon Hill Academy pupils Scott Buckley Taylor Thomas and Jayliyah Stephens

The second episode starts with the attendance officer Louise Sadler chasing a parent whose daughter hasn't been at the High Arcal Drive school for a few days, only to be told that the pupil has not being getting out of bed before midday.

The programme features input from Department for Education’s ‘behaviour guru’ Marie Gentles expert who offers advice about putting strategies in place to ensure the youngsters have the right communication skills to deal with their struggles.

Miss Sadler who has been in the job for 24 years explains: "Attendance has also been an issue, but it's just harder work at the moment. It's a hard slog.

"More recently there has been changes since the Covid pandemic. Young people have got used to being at home. Parents have got used to not having the pressure on them to get their kids out of bed and into school and habits have developed.

"And we've got lots of young people who are genuinely anxious about coming back in school."

Among those struggling is Scott Buckley who spent much of his first year at the school out of the classroom due to being highly anxious. But he manages to spend 20 minutes in a maths lesson for the first time.

Meanwhile Oliver Kelly who has autism finds himself repeatedly in trouble for putting a teacher in headlock and for pushing another.

Jayliyah Stephens who previously came close to be being expelled is in hot water again despite being offered a chance to audition for the school's talent show after improvements in her general behaviour.

Marie's interesting advice to the families, each child and the staff are being taken on board.

The cameras followed them for a school year at the improving Dudley Academies Trust formerly known High Arcal. It was initially a grammar school when it opened in 1961 before becoming a comprehensive in 1975. It gained academy status five years ago.

The episodes can be seen on iPlayer.