Kids on the Edge

Kids on the Edge is a groundbreaking documentary series produced for Channel 4 by the award-winning Century Films. It explores the treatment of complex issues in the nation’s children and young people through exclusive access to three different areas of our work. 

Kids on the edge – Matt in front of a tree

Episode one – the Gender Clinic

The Tavistock’s Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) is the only NHS-funded service working on gender issues in young people in the UK.

The first film explores the difficult decisions faced by children when they feel like they’ve been born into the wrong gender, or don’t fit into the neat definitions dictated by society. While gender dysphoria is not a mental illness, it presents a whole manner of related developmental and identity issues.

For most living like this can be unbearable. It can lead to distress, suicidal desires, and frightened and desperate parents. And there are no easy solutions – potentially life-changing decisions about transitioning into your chosen gender at a young age, and the medical interventions that follow, are very complicated.

The clinic has seen a 100% increase in referrals in the last year. Directed by the BAFTA-winning Peter Beard (My Son the Jihadi) this episode will follow the daily lives of two transgender children, their families and their treatment by GIDS staff. 

Kids on the edge – Gloucester House

Episode two – Last Chance School

The second film is set in Gloucester House, the Tavistock’s NHS-funded primary school for children with complex emotional and mental health difficulties, who exhibit some of the most challenging behaviours in the country. Head Teacher Nell Nicholson leads a specialist team that ranges from teachers to Child Psychotherapists. Nearly all of the 19 pupils, aged 6-12, have faced early trauma. For some that can be neglect and abuse, for others it can be bereavement.

The school operates on the basis that reliving and working through these early traumas allows these children to move on. But this approach can be challenging, when many of the children can't last for more than a few minutes without a violent or abusive outburst. The film will follow the work of the staff of this unique school as they educate and treat their pupils and prepare them, where possible, for reintegration into mainstream secondary education. The film is also directed by Peter Beard. 

Kids on the edge – Masie

Episode three – Troubled Girls

A worrying trend in the UK has been reported by A&Es who have seen a surge in the number of teenage girls being admitted for self-harm. 1 in 3 British teenage girls are showing symptoms of anxiety or depression and the Tavistock itself has seen a rise in numbers of complex cases of self-harming in this demographic. The final film follows two of these cases in detail and the Tavistock’s attempt to tackle the issue locally as they set up a new ‘crisis service’ with a team of community mental health workers. This film is directed by Tim Lawton. 

Share this page

The episodes:

Kids on the Edge: The Gender Clinic

Our children are struggling to know how to live in today’s world. Unprecedented numbers are being diagnosed with mental health disorders,...

Kids on the Edge: Last Chance School

An unprecedented number of children in the UK are being diagnosed and treated for a mental health disorder. This film follows three of these...

Kids on the Edge: Troubled Girls

Self-harm and suicide are major public health problems for teenagers – rates of self-harm are high in the teenage years and suicide is the second...