In March 2015 Claire was invited by Anne Woods, HT at Middlefield Special School in Glasgow to work with her on a partnership bid for ‘A Right to Speak’ funding. The proposal was to provide a programme of training and support for inclusion staff to work in an outreach capacity with children and young people who have communication support needs presenting with behavioural challenges.
Anne hoped to secure funding to train all 28 staff as Emotion Works practitioners and mentors over a 6 month period, and she also applied for extra funding to support two staff through the Emotion Works trainer accreditation process. This was great foresight as the ball was already rolling with Emotion Works uptake in a number of settings and services across Glasgow. By including mentoring and train-the-trainer support into the practitioner training, Anne was anticipating her staff’s contribution to wider capacity building across Glasgow City Council (GCC) in the future.
Knowing that GCC’s Education Services strategic priorities and principles included GIRFEC, nurture, inclusive schools, positive relationships, restorative approaches, communication friendly establishments and pupil voice, it was very easy to match up Emotion Works’ own priorities and principles with Anne’s hopes for the project. The goals for the project that we listed on the funding bid were as follows…
- To support young people with communication difficulties to express their views and contribute to the decision making process.
- To ensure young people with communication difficulties are more able to express their views, make choices, indicate likes and dislikes particularly in relation to their learning, wider experiences and transition planning.
- To develop a strong underlying understanding of communication that will support the use of AAC technologies.
- To enable pupil voice and ensure that staff are properly informed on supporting communication and learning at the right level for individuals.
- To develop skills in young people to enable them to understand and communicate about emotions and behaviour.
Claire’s task for achieving these goals was to build knowledge, awareness and understanding in staff along with a feeling of confidence and competence in using the Emotion Works programme.
The bid was successful and we filled all 28 places with staff from most of the Language and Communication Resources (LCRs) and Middlefield School. Three twilight sessions were scheduled and staff commitment to the accreditation process was established.
During our first session we identified some words for emotions that we thought might be behind some of the pupil behaviours that staff were seeing and hoping to understand better over the course of the project. A photo record of this activity (shown here) summarises the breadth, depth and challenge of promoting learning, communication and emotional well-being for some of our most vulnerable pupils.
Over the course of the three sessions trainees were encouraged to get started using the various resources and ideas in their practice and to come back and share their experiences with the group. This was a supportive, reflective and collaborative aspect to the training which featured very positively in project evaluations.
Evaluations on other factors were extremely reassuring with all trainees reporting that they felt more knowledgeable about emotional learning and communication as a result of the training with better insights into understanding emotionally charged behaviours. 95% of trainees felt confident about applying their learning using Emotion Works ideas and resources, and 95% also felt they would be more effective in promoting and supporting emotional learning, communication and well-being with pupils and the staff they were supporting.
It has been a most reflective and inspiring programme. I have personally benefitted from training in a resource I will use with my pupils for their benefit. I also hope to use it with staff in the mainstream schools I visit to reach a shared understanding of pupils’ behaviours.
Jane Carmidy, Teacher, St Charles LCR
The project concluded with an extremely successful practice sharing event at Middlefield School where trainees presented their practice experiences to each other, our ‘Right to Speak’ funders and QIO representatives from GCC.
For more information about this event, please click on the link below.
Colleagues from the specialist provisions across Glasgow had the opportunity to take part in this shared professional development tailored to the needs of young people with communication needs and ASD.
The project provided an environment where we could share ideas, resources and ask each other for advice. The process has encouraged on-going professional dialogue between 8 establishments and 28 practitioners. This has resulted in increased consistency of resources and approaches to support our young people on our service goals and priorities.
The impact of Emotion Works is obvious in school – the message about being more aware of emotions is coming out clearly in all of our progress reports this year, and responses from our parents are indicating benefits at home too.
Anne Woods, Head Teacher, Middlefield Special School