Teachers and school nurses receive eating disorder training in Bolton and Wigan area

Posted 18/07/2018

The eating disorder charity Beat partnered with the Bolton and Wigan Children and Young People’s Community Eating Disorder Service, provided by North West Boroughs Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, to train school professionals to recognise the signs of eating disorders and support ill pupils in the area. The training took place on Tuesday 17 July at St James’s Church of England High School, Farnworth.

An estimated 20% of young people within secondary schools will exhibit some signs of an eating disorder, but these signs often go unrecognised. Research by Beat shows it takes more than two and a half years for children to get treatment after first falling ill and the largest part of this delay – nearly a year and a half – is due to them not realising they have an eating disorder. There is then a further wait of nine months before they visit a GP.

Former sufferer Grace Sinnott, from the Greater Manchester area, spoke of her experience with at a school where teachers lacked knowledge of eating disorders: “Teachers that my mum communicated with had no knowledge at all of what I was going through and would ask me quite inappropriate questions.

 “I think that within schools there is just a big stigma and a fear of eating disorders. I actually feel my school were scared of myself and my condition”

 As a result of her illness and the lack of support, Grace stopped attending school altogether. She says her experience shows it is “crucial that school professionals are aware of the warning signs of an eating disorder. They need to understand how to support an individual who is struggling within school, approaches that they need to take as well as those they definitely shouldn't take.”

By receiving training, school professionals will be able to help children get treatment early, preventing eating disorders from developing and ensuring they have the greatest chance of recovery. They will become eating disorder “first responders”.

They will also learn which services are available locally.

Beat’s Training Coordinator Colleen Rowley-Smith said, “Schools have such an important role to play to help spot the signs of eating disorders and stop them in their tracks. There are a lot of misunderstandings around eating disorders so it is important school staff are equipped with the right knowledge.

“Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses but recovery is possible, especially if people get help early. By working with the local Children and Young People’s Community Eating Disorder Service in Bolton and Wigan we hope to ensure that is the case for young people in the area.”

Dr Sandeep Ranote, Medical Director at North West Boroughs Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said, “We at North West Boroughs Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust are delighted to be working in partnership with national experts in eating disorders, Beat, to support the delivery of our specialist community eating disorder services for young people.

“This means that we are able to identify and offer treatment sooner and quicker to children and young people in Bolton and Wigan and provide the much needed support to schools around prevention and awareness.”

Notes to editors

  • Beat representatives, including the Regional Officer for the North West, are available from interview and comment. Case studies are also available to speak about their experience of eating disorders in schools.
  • Pictures from the event will be available.
  • Beat is the UK’s eating disorder charity. More information at: https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/
  • A report by Beat published in November showed that on average there is a delay of 176 weeks between the first signs of an eating disorder and someone beginning treatment. 149 weeks (almost three years) is taken up before seeing a GP. For children, the average wait is 130 weeks, including 69 weeks before they realise they are ill and a further 39 weeks before they seek help.
  • Beat’s Tips poster campaign highlights six early signs of an eating disorder and is designed to be displayed in schools and elsewhere: https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/uploads/documents/2017/9/tips-poster.pdf
  • NHS figures show the number of admissions to hospital with a primary or secondary diagnosis has almost doubled over the past six years. Current NICE guidelines state that “the risk is highest for young men and women between 13 and 17 years of age”.
  • In 2017-18, Beat trained 212 eating disorder first responders in schools and universities.


Contact information: Jamie Osborn | media@beateatingdisorders.org.uk | 01603 753316