Care and education link up to reduce absconding

A feature sponsored by Hillcrest

Hillcrest Oaklands College believes that by working together holistically, care and education services empower young people to make positive changes in their lives.

Set in an eleven acre site in the beautiful Staffordshire countryside, Hillcrest Oaklands College is an Ofsted rated ‘outstanding’ vocational college offering specialist therapeutic support to girls aged 12 -19 with emotional behavioural difficulties and associated difficulties.

The young people who come to Oaklands live in a safe and stable environment with individual assessments/person-centred plans supported by a highly experienced, committed and specialist staff team. The team includes an external clinical psychologist, counsellors and a team which specialises in child sexual exploitation and high level absconders.

The key to Oaklands’ ability to reduce this absconding behaviour lies in the following:

Team work

Oaklands offers high staffing ratios and offers a whole time working pattern which provides stability throughout the week. Seven days of a complete staff team makes all the difference. Use of radios around the site offer quick responses and having education provided onsite makes a difference as care and education teams are working in unison.

Location and facilities

Oaklands semi-rural location also helps to minimise opportunities for absconding. Facilities distract young people from absconding. Young people are kept busy throughout their time onsite. Oaklands has a zip wire, trampoline, outdoor heated swimming pool, common room, cinema room and a gym area. There is horse riding and yearly achievers day which recognise their accomplishments.

Child-centred approach

Work is underpinned by core values which were developed by the young people:

  • To be kept safe and not make ourselves unsafe
  • Not to bully or be bullied
  • To respect each other and our home
  • To listen when someone speaks
  • To be patient as we are one of many

Principal, Shalana Malcolm, says:

“The key to our success is the ability to provide adaptable, bespoke care and education packages specifically designed to meet and achieve a wide range of needs and outcomes. By getting to know each young person, and tailoring our services to their needs, we make a meaningful difference to their lives.

We continue to accept high level absconders. They walk into a culture of young people who were also previous high level absconders, but are now not displaying or having the opportunity to fulfil that past learnt desire. They then share these experiences and the culture becomes infectious.”

“Safeguarding professionals reported the home is overwhelmingly positive with a well joined up management team who are eager to work with the local authorities.” – Ofsted Report 2015

Young people’s comments from high level absconders 2015 –

‘I don’t abscond from Oaklands as now I have nothing to run from’

‘I have ran from every home they have put me in this is the first one I have never ran from, I know they care about me’

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