Exclusions are not the Answer

Donna Ellison became the Head Teacher of Whitnash Primary School in Leamington Spa in 2016. She arrived to a school in chaos but firmly believes that exclusions are not the answer.

Taking a more understanding approach, Donna uses her Thrive practice to nurture supportive and sustainable relationships with the children, parents and staff.

Upon her arrival, it was clear that too many children had little respect for the school and parents were angry. She noticed that the children were lacking emotional resilience, resulting in some running from classrooms and arguments breaking out in the corridors.

Her first task was to tackle these ‘runners’, children from various classes who regularly ran out of the classroom on to the field. She also needed to focus on working alongside parents, many of whom were antagonistic towards what was generally regarded as a school with a poor public image.

Opening channels of communication between herself, the children, staff and parents, Donna spent the next few months building trust. Her refusal to exclude anyone was particularly effective. The children knew that she would not give up on them. As such, they were given the opportunity to work through their behavioural difficulties, understand their feelings and learn various methods of keeping calm.

The impact of Thrive

After 12 months of embedding Thrive, the transformation was evident. The number of children ‘running’ from class had gone down from ten to three, and these three only went as far as the corridor. Nobody had been excluded; largely because the children were given all the space and time they needed to calm down, followed by targeted Thrive action plan support.

Today, parents no longer feel let down by Whitnash. A recent survey shows a 100% response in support of the school. They are now confident that their children are safe and would recommend the school to another parent.

Donna has told us that,

Calm has been restored at Whitnash and children, parents and staff are proud of their school. Academic results are improving, and children moving up to secondary school are ready to learn. I am very happy to say that Whitnash has not excluded a single pupil in over two years.


To read more about Thrive at Whitnash Primary School, click here.