What is an Educational Needs Analysis (ENA)?

Introduction

An Educational Needs Analysis (ENA) tells a comprehensive story about a child, mapping out every stage in their life and experiences that makeup who they are today. This report provides a strength-based, trauma-informed holistic view of a child’s psychological, social, educational, and physical development, considering how their experiences with trauma impact various domains of their life.

Understanding an ENA

An ENA report is written for young people placed into Out-of-Home Care (OoHC), where they cannot live with their primary caregivers and are put into alternative care arrangements for short or long-term periods.

Purpose of an ENA

An ENA report addresses and understands a child’s social, emotional, and learning needs and strengths. This process involves collecting and reviewing information from key stakeholders such as teachers, well-being officers, house supervisors, and Child Protection practitioners. The goal is to highlight the student’s requirements and provide appropriate, evidence-based recommendations.

Main Categories of Recommendations

  1. General Care and well-being:
    • Recommendations tailored to the child’s well-being include identifying different referral pathways to services like mental health support, health checks, and AOD services.
  2. Educational Recommendations:
    • Tailored recommendations that schools can implement to support the child’s engagement in learning, such as modified work to encourage participation.
  3. Social, Emotional, and Behavioural:
    • Specific strategies to help the child regulate their emotions, including breathing and relaxation methods.

Assessment Domains of an ENA

  1. Family History:
    • Understanding the family history and circumstances leading to the child being in an Out-of-Home care setting.
  2. Placement History:
    • Informing about the child’s placement transitions and their impact on school engagement.
  3. Trauma History:
    • Highlighting traumatic events and adversities and their impact on the child’s school presentation and learning ability.
  4. School and Education:
    • Providing insights into the child’s strengths and challenges at school.
  5. Medical and Developmental History:
    • Informing how medical history and mental and physical health diagnoses impact school engagement.
  6. Social, Emotional, and Behavioural Functioning:
    • Highlighting the child’s strengths, interests, behaviour, and interactions with peers and trusted adults.

Importance of an ENA in OoHC

Children in Out-of-Home Care often present with diverse characteristics, strengths, interests, and needs. They commonly share experiences of being removed from their parent’s care due to safety and well-being concerns, such as exposure to abuse, parental substance misuse, incarceration, and other traumatic events.

Exposure to abuse, trauma, and disrupted attachment during formative years can lead to a survival response from the subcortical and limbic areas of the brain. This preoccupation with big emotions and distress can compromise their capacity to learn and engage in school.

Promoting educational attainment is crucial for improving their opportunities to lead safe and fulfilling lives. Children with a safe and supportive environment and positive rapport with peers and teachers are more likely to achieve great things in life.

Conclusion

An ENA report offers a holistic view of the child, considering their traumatic experiences, social presentation, school history, and other mental and medical conditions. This comprehensive understanding allows for specific recommendations that help the child achieve optimal educational outcomes and improve their overall well-being.