Heath Farm School, located in Kent, stands out as a beacon of success in implementing the Thrive Approach® to address the diverse needs of its 106 pupils, aged five to 18. This case study delves into how Thrive has become an integral part of the school's ethos, transforming the social and emotional wellbeing of its pupils, and garnering recognition as a Thrive School of Excellence.
Heath Farm School caters to pupils with a range of needs, including autism, emotional and behavioural difficulties, and those who have experienced trauma. Recognising the disruptive atmosphere these challenges create, the school embraced the Thrive Approach in 2015, guided by the passion of Learning Support Assistant Nina Jones, who became a Thrive Licensed Practitioner in 2016.
Initially, Nina ran timetabled Thrive sessions as part of class lessons across the whole school. She extended this to start working on a 1:1 basis with those children who have the greatest need with group Thrive assessments taking place every term to track progress.
Pupils are referred for daily Thrive sessions by teachers, and as positive results have been observed, there is now a waiting list of children to have Thrive input. A member of the class teaching team is present during Thrive sessions so that they can take strategies back to class, using a consistent approach to help children regulate their emotions.
As more Licensed Practitioners have been trained and more space has been made available for Thrive activities, Nina is now working on embedding Thrive across the school, with a practitioner working with class groups to deliver wellbeing sessions.
Workshops have been run to give parents an insight into the Thrive Approach and Heath Farm has started to run Family Thrive sessions, a six-part course for parents and carers. The idea is to help families support their children’s mental and emotional health, extend the Thrive Approach into the home, and embed it in school.
Heath Farm staff witness tangible improvements. Nina Jones said "The children love their Thrive sessions and it’s something that definitely works. Thrive has helped the wellbeing of our school grow, we have seen amazing effects on our children and nothing gives us greater joy than knowing how we have turned some of our pupils’ lives around with the Thrive Approach." Thrive aids students in accessing education, fostering resilience and coping skills, particularly during transitions into the school's varied programs. “We do have some challenging children here and, as a result of Thrive, staff can see that children who were not accessing their education are now much more settled in class. They are regulated and able to access their education.” Nina continued.
The impact on students is profound, as illustrated by a foster carer's testimony. "The impact that the Thrive sessions at Heath Farm have had on my young lad is huge, to say the least. It has helped him manage and reflect on his behaviours. Thrive also helps him to understand his emotions a lot better so that he can re-organise how he is feeling emotionally and this is a massive step forward for him. One thing he can now do on his own is take time out and come back to say he was sorry or to say he is ready to carry on without the meltdowns. This then goes hand-in-hand with having more time to learn new things. As this can be hard for my lad as he is Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASC) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), but with the Thrive sessions we have seen a marked improvement in him, not just at school but also at home as well."
"The children love their Thrive sessions and it’s something that definitely works. Thrive has helped the wellbeing of our school grow, we have seen amazing effects on our children and nothing gives us greater joy than knowing how we have turned some of our pupils’ lives around with the Thrive Approach."
Heath Farm School's journey with Thrive exemplifies a commitment to enhancing the social and emotional wellbeing of students, creating a positive ripple effect across the entire school community. Heath Farm's commitment to Thrive has earned it the title of a Thrive School of Excellence, a benchmark of all-round excellence for schools that have embedded the Thrive Approach.
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