A team of occupational therapists from Northamptonshire are using their skills and experience to help schools and families in the county and surrounding areas.

The team at Thrive Occupational Therapy Services, which is based in Sywell, Northants, has been providing independent occupational therapy services for children and families in Northamptonshire, Bedfordshire, Warwickshire, Leicestershire and Cambridgeshire since 2010.

Now, the company is broadening its impact by extending training opportunities through teaching networks and school academy trusts. This includes hosting sessions featuring national and international speakers, who bring diverse perspectives and expertise to the table.

Company director and occupational therapist, Jennifer Barrow, said: “Thrive Occupational Therapy Services was founded 13 years ago to supplement the provision of state funded, NHS services and provide timely therapeutic input and support to children and young people. Since then, demand for our services has really grown and we have also recognised an increasing need for training.”

The number of children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) is on the increase. Department for Education data, compiled in 2022 and released in 2023, shows a trend of increases in SEN prevalence since 2017, rising by 10% to 1.49 million in 2021/22 and representing 16.5% of all pupils. It is expected that figures for 2023 will also show an increase.

“This rise demonstrates the need for providing support and resources to create enabling environments for children within educational settings,” adds Jennifer. “The 2019 Ofsted framework emphasises the significance of such environments, which aligns closely with the focus of Thrive’s training initiatives. By equipping educators with the knowledge and tools to foster inclusive and supportive environments, they can address the diverse needs of students, including those with SEN, and promote their overall wellbeing and academic success.”

Co-director and Occupational Therapist, Alison Barrett said: “With the number of children being diagnosed as SEN on the increase, and many waiting to be diagnosed, the pressure for school staff to be able to offer the support these children need, is also increasing. There are many children in mainstream and special schools who would benefit from occupational therapy input, and this input is limited from statutory services. We work with school staff to implement different programmes, offer advice and teach them to recognise and effectively support children who have difficulty participating in important school activities such as, paying attention, organisation, interacting with others as well as, handwriting and coordination.”

For more information on Thrive Occupational Therapy Services, visit thrive-ots.co.uk.