Sheep Dip Lane Academy: From firefighting behaviour, to calm classrooms

Sheep Dip Lane Academy, in Dunscroft near Doncaster, is one of nine schools that make up Exceed Learning Partnership.

The school supports 244 pupils, aged 3 to 11, and is at the heart of a former mining community with high levels of unemployment and 57 per cent of pupils in receipt of free school meals.

Sheep Dip introduced Thrive in 2014 after noticing that a number of children were struggling to manage their emotions. This was preventing some children from accessing learning and staff were constantly having to firefight behaviour, with little lasting impact.


Prioritising positive relationships

Using Thrive-Online, Thrive’s assessment, action-planning and progress-monitoring tool, the Sheep Dip team were able to baseline pupils’ social and emotional skills and identify children who required extra support to get them to age-related expectations. One-to-one and small group sessions were set up so that Thrive Licensed Practitioners could spend dedicated time with those children, building positive relationships and focusing on meeting their social and emotional development needs.

This proved a great success, with children being integrated back into the classroom and engaging with learning alongside their peers. Seeing first-hand the difference Thrive was making, more staff were trained and Thrive was gradually embedded as a whole school approach – ensuring everyone could benefit.

Thrive is now woven into the academy’s culture, supporting the social and emotional development of every pupil to help prepare them for the future and equip them with the skills they will need for adult life.

Quote from Viv Trask-Hall, Head of Product and Innovation at Thrive

Positive relationships are at the heart of Sheep Dip and children feel able to talk to staff about their feelings and worries. Pupils are building resilience and can deal with tricky situations rather than giving up when things get too much. Behaviour has also improved as children are more aware of their emotions and can think before acting on a strong feeling.

Sheep Dip now has four Thrive Licensed Practitioners and all staff receive continuing professional development on the Thrive Approach. One Licensed Practitioner is also a Course Leader for Family Thrive and a Thrive trainer, running sessions for parents and carers as well as training colleagues across Exceed Learning Partnership.


Thrive School of Excellence

To recognise the extraordinary impact Sheep Dip is having on its pupils, and the wider community, the school has been named as a Thrive School of Excellence.

The award is the highest level of achievement in Thrive’s Ambassador Schools scheme, which shines a light on settings showcasing outstanding mental health and wellbeing support.

“We are extremely proud to have been awarded the School of Excellence Award,” said Vice Principal Alison Parkhurst.

Viv Trask-Hall, Head of Product and Innovation at Thrive, said: “Sheep Dip Lane Academy is an inspirational school where staff have placed mental wellbeing at the heart of school life.

Sheep Dip Lane Academy celebrating their Thrive School of Excellence award

“Relationships between staff and pupils are strong and this has created a culture of wellbeing that means children feel calm, emotionally-regulated and ready to learn.  Staff are committed to embedding mental health at the heart of school life and they richly deserve this achievement. This award recognises that amazing work and is very well deserved.”


“I truly believe we are making a difference to children’s lives”

Pupils and staff have fully embraced Thrive at Sheep Dip Lane Academy and some have shared their experiences and the difference the Approach has made to them.

“Thrive has helped me manage my feelings and think before acting.” – KS2 pupil

“Coming to Thrive makes me feel safe.” – KS2 pupil

“Thrive is so much fun, I love it.” – KS2 pupil

“Seeing the progress our children have made is so rewarding.” – Thrive Licensed Practitioner

“The best thing about Thrive is knowing I’ve made a difference.” – Class teacher

“Seeing a child flourish as they begin to feel safe and special gives me a warm fuzz.” - Thrive Licensed Practitioner

Quote from a Thrive Licensed Practitioner at Sheep Dip Lane Academy

“I have become so passionate about using this approach. I truly believe we are making a difference to children’s lives and that’s the best job in the world!” – Thrive Licensed Practitioner


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