When thinking about taking an ‘holistic approach’ in any organisation or education setting, one would normally apply the philosophical definition characterized by the belief that ‘the parts of something are intimately interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole’. So education systems should be established, maintained or changed using this all round thinking. The little human beings that attend our schools are one of the largest ‘parts’ that make up our education settings, along with onsite staff, external professionals, family members, buildings, maintenance, admin & IT systems. Young people are beholden to the adults and systems that surround them so it is imperative that these approaches and systems have at their heart an holistic process enabling them to provide help and support rather than magnify and isolate.
In medicine the term holistic is seen to be the ‘treatment of the whole person, taking into account mental and social factors, rather than just the symptoms of a disease’. Young people can present with social, emotional, behaviour and academic needs and therefore in order to support them there needs to be an in-depth look at what is going on for the young person not just a tick box exercise for learning needs. There is plenty of good work being done and systems established to enable this but there are still too many spaces and places that are more concerned with finance, business, checking, grades than the human condition. In order to get this right the whole person should be taken into account so that predisposed factors do not hinder health and learning.