Manor Infant School is a three-form entry school in Farnborough, Hampshire. The school was introduced to the Thrive Approach in 2017, when Headteacher Emma Dare trained as a Thrive Licensed Practitioner along with the school’s Behaviour Support Worker.
Situated in a diverse catchment area, with levels of deprivation in two wards among the highest in the UK, Emma noticed an increasing number of children starting school with considerable social, emotional and mental health needs that were making it very difficult for them to access the mainstream classroom. “These children were so emotionally dysregulated and often had high anxiety that was manifesting itself as extreme behaviour. These children were not ready to learn, even if they had the cognitive ability” she said.
Many parents were looking for a clinical diagnosis to explain their child’s challenging behaviour, often linking the symptoms to those of ADHD. As a Thrive Practitioner, Emma recognises that these behaviours are likely to signal that the child has experienced interruptions in their development or encountered attachment issues or trauma. “I felt it was important to help parents understand the root cause of the behaviour and the fact that the children are actually trying to communicate need” she explained. To do this, it was crucial for more colleagues at the school to understand Thrive and its benefits.
In February 2019, Emma attended a Thrive Approach for Senior Leaders course, along with the Assistant Headteacher and the Phase Leader for Early Years. This course gives senior leaders a strategic overview of the Thrive Approach, helps them explore how best to embed Thrive in their setting, and shows how Thrive-Online can be used to monitor and measure impact. Here is Emma’s take on her experience of the Senior Leaders course:
By attending the course, my colleague was able to see Thrive differently, she could see the benefits I had explained to her and she now understands how it all fits together. The two days were uplifting and enlightening and did exactly what it said on the tin – it was exactly what we needed.
"The passion and the delivery of the training was some of the best CPD as a senior leader that I’ve ever had."
Thrive has a fantastic way of showing the comparison and link between the emotional state of a child and their ability. You can see that as the child becomes more regulated through Thrive, they also improve academically, so there is a direct correlation. As a senior leader, you’ve always got that tension between meeting the needs of the children, providing quality education, and achieving outcomes, and you’re accountable to the governors, the local authority and Ofsted. With Thrive you can measure progress in ways other aspects of the curriculum aren’t measured, which is really important and revolutionary for us as we can still show the children are improving and achieving.
I would recommend the Senior Leaders course to any SLT considering whether they’re going to invest in full training. Going on that two-day course shows what good value for money Thrive is and once people understand what they’re getting they would probably be more willing to give it a go. Going on the course would have definitely been a really good way of helping me to make up my mind and recognise whether or not it was a good use of school budget. It has been so transformative for us; I would find it very easy to persuade anybody that it was a worthwhile thing to do.
Since attending the course, Emma has noticed the positive impact embedding Thrive has had on both the staff and students at the school:
It has involved the whole school community – all members of staff have had in-house training in the key principles of Thrive and we refresh people in staff meetings as we go along. We now have a Thrive room, our Behaviour Support Worker is now our Thrive Practitioner and we are doing a lot more work with parents that we weren’t doing before.
Everyone has a better understanding of Thrive and many can’t remember a time when they didn’t have it. Key adults working with the children are much more understanding about what behaviour is trying to communicate and the neurological and physiological aspects of children’s behaviour. Now that they have that understanding, they are better able to meet the needs of the children and recognise those that would benefit from Thrive.
As identified children receiving individual support, small group support, or support with their parents improve, the teachers are finding that when they complete whole class Thrive assessments, they’re seeing their percentages go up as well. The teachers can see that the support time those children are having is actually benefitting the whole class because they are less anxious and better able to self-regulate so when they are back in the classroom everybody is able to learn better.
"Once you’ve been ‘Thrived’, your whole outlook changes - I can’t rate it highly enough."
Over to you
Reduced anxiety and behavioural incidents. Calmer classrooms filled with engaged leaners. Improved relationships with parents and carers. These are just some of the outcomes reported by settings embedding Thrive’s whole-school approach to mental health and wellbeing. Are you ready to join them? Click here to get started.
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