Sutton Park Primary School: A ‘totally different place’ thanks to Thrive

Sutton Park Primary School in Kidderminster is one of 13 schools that make up the Central Region Schools Trust. The school supports over 200 children aged 3 to 11 and prides itself on having a culture deeply rooted in care and empathy.

Looking for a solution to tackle disruptive classroom behaviour, Sutton Park started using Thrive in 2016. Since introducing the Approach, staff have been able to identify and support pupils struggling socially and emotionally, resulting in a significant reduction in behavioural incidents.

Not only has the school been rated as ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted, Sutton Park has also been recognised for its positive impact on pupils, and on the wider community, by being named a Thrive School of Excellence.


Recognising behaviour as communication

Initially perceived as a ‘soft’ approach to behaviour management, Thrive was met with some uncertainty by staff. However, once introduced to the underpinning science and theory, opinions began to change.

Thrive is now fully embedded at Sutton Park, with five Thrive Licensed Practitioners, including a trained member of the senior leadership team. The Lead Practitioners deliver staff meetings which all colleagues and governors are invited to attend, and regular CPD ensures Thrive principles are woven throughout the school and remain high profile.

Everyone at the school understands that behaviour is a form of communication, and that underdeveloped social and emotional skills have a detrimental impact on learning and academic achievement. All staff use Thrive techniques in their daily practice and have noticed a huge improvement in relationships and behaviour.

Quote from Danielle Duignan


Identifying and addressing social and emotional development needs

Using Thrive-Online, Thrive’s assessment, action-planning and progress-monitoring tool, the Sutton Park team evaluate the social and emotional skills of all pupils and identify anyone that needs extra support from a Thrive Licensed Practitioner. Thrive-Online helps staff to better understand the key stages of development and offers strategies and activities that can be incorporated into daily routines and teaching to support pupils at each stage.

Thrive-Online data also provides evidence of progress for Education, Health and Care Needs Assessments (EHCNA) and was used during the school’s Ofsted inspection in 2023 to show how they are supporting children’s personal development.


‘Outstanding’ from Ofsted

Following their inspection, Sutton Park received a rating of ‘Outstanding’ from Ofsted. Observations in the report recognised pupils’ ‘calm, orderly and respectful’ behaviour as well as the motivation of staff to do the best for the children.

“Leaders’ worthy values and high expectations colour all aspects of school life. Staff feel supported in their work and are motivated to do their best for pupils. Behaviour around school is calm, orderly and respectful.”

“In lessons, even the very youngest children listen carefully to their teachers and make constructive contributions to classroom learning. On the playground, pupil anti-bullying champions watch out for any upsets. Older pupils organise games for others. These responsible behaviours flavour school life and help each day to run smoothly.” – Sutton Park Primary School’s Ofsted report, May 2023.

Quote from Sutton Park Primary's Ofsted report


Thrive School of Excellence

To recognise the extraordinary impact Sutton Park 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.

Danielle Duignan, SENDCo (Special Educational Needs Coordinator) and teacher at Sutton Park Primary, said: “It’s an honour to be recognised for all of the hard work our school community has done.”

“The school is a totally different place to where we started. It has been amazing to see the changes in the children and how effective the approaches have been. The school culture is deeply rooted in care and empathy all of which is a result of the understanding that all behaviour is the communication of unmet needs.”

Sutton Park Primary School receiving their Thrive School of Excellence Award

“I would say without question, Thrive has been the most effective CPD I have ever had and the one which has made the most difference to the lives of the children and families in our community. I would recommend it in a heartbeat.”

Anna Smee, managing director of Thrive, said: “Sutton Park Primary is an extraordinary school which puts the wellbeing of pupils at the very centre of their work through their use of the Thrive Approach. This award is recognition of that amazing work.”


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