Spotting and supporting eating disorders in school:recommendations from school staffDate: 01.08.2013
Eating disorders have a high rate of onset in school-aged children. School staff are in an excellent position to spot the early warning signs and offer support during recovery. This article explores the findings from focus groups conducted with 63 members of staff from 29 UK schools with the aims of (i) understanding whether they are in a good position to support students with eating disorders and (ii) to generate recommendations regarding school staff`s training needs for spotting and supporting eating disorders. Participants took part in semi-structured focus groups. These were transcribed and analysed using content analysis principles. Five key themes emerged: (i) many staff do not have a basic understanding of eating disorders, (ii) eating disorders are taboo in the staffroom, (iii) staff do not feel comfortable talking to students about eating disorders, (iv) support is needed to ensure the teacher-parent relationship is a positive one and (v) school staff would welcome practical ideas for how they can best support students during the recovery period. The findings show that school staff currently feel ill-equipped to support students with eating disorders and endorse a need for focused training for school staff to better enable them to support students with eating disorders.