by Claire Murray, creator of the Emotion Works Programme and founder of Emotion Works CIC
Emotion Works helps teachers and schools deliver emotional education to support and promote children’s Mental Health and Emotional Wellbeing. The Emotion Works programme and organisation is a long-standing resource in Scottish Education, designed and delivered ‘by teachers for teachers’ with an excellent reputation for providing practical and engaging learning resources within a flexible and inclusive approach.
As a Community Interest Company we allocate a proportion of our time and resources each year into projects that can make a difference to the emotional wellbeing of children and young people through Social Emotional Learning experiences (SEL).
Our main learning programme, the Emotion Works Cog Curriculum, is set within a wider framework that highlights the importance of positive relationships for learning and wellbeing.
This resource pack has been developed for Primary Class Teachers to support the work you may already have planned for #Mental HealthAwarenessWeek2023 on the theme of ‘Anxiety’, or for another time when some ready-made wellbeing activities & resources would be useful.
Claire Murray is the creator of the Emotion Works programme and founder of Emotion Works as a Community Interest Company (CIC). She is an experienced teacher, curriculum designer and educational consultant with a strong academic background in psychology and education. As well as her obvious passion and commitment to developing and sharing best practice in emotional education, Claire is becoming increasingly interested and involved in service level decision-making that contributes to ‘closing the gap’ and ‘getting it right for every child’.
Claire’s current role involves a mix of development work, training, accreditation and consultancy work as well as overseeing the everyday operational aspects of Emotion Works and staff management.
On a day to day basis, Claire shares the office with administrator, Catriona and legal/corporate associate, Andrea with regular visits and contact with our training co-ordinator Loreen, illustrator Diane, marketing associate Sally, social business advisor Jackie, and print supplier Ed.
Next door to the office is our training classroom where we run our Edinburgh training sessions and train-the-trainer days.
Our growing team of trainers are spread across Scotland and the North East of England. All of our trainers are experienced educators within primary, nursery and secondary sectors and many have specialist expertise in areas including nurture, learning disability, autism and communication support. Most of our trainers work for us in a freelance capacity, but some have line management support and allocated time to deliver Emotion Works training as part of their employed role within a school or specialist local authority post.
Over the past few years we have been developing an online membership service. This added layer of support, which includes online training, digital resources and practice examples, has been extremely valuable in helping people to build capacity in using the approach and has also helped us to establish a very enthusiastic and supportive online community.
Emotion Works is ‘home grown’ in Scotland so is very well aligned to the Scottish Curriculum and related policies such as ‘Getting it Right for Every Child’ (GIRFEC) and the Scottish Attainment Challenge. There is a strong overlap with other agendas and initiatives concerned with learning and wellbeing such as the inclusion agenda and the ACEs awareness movement.
‘Mental and Emotional Health and Wellbeing’ has been a core curriculum subject within Scottish Education’s ‘Curriculum for Excellence’ for over a decade now.
Over the same period of time, the Emotion Works resources and training packages have been researched and designed, piloted and refined to provide Scotland with a comprehensive programme that helps teachers and practitioners deliver learning experiences for emotional wellbeing that are tailored to their role as educators.
“A year ago I took to a Facebook forum page (Scottish ASN and Nurture Teachers) to find help on how to support a troubled little soul in my P3 class. I had been working very hard with him on ways to manage his emotions and difficult situations, which were arising daily. The health and well-being programme in the school just wasn’t enough. I felt like I was failing him and the other pupils in my class, and I felt stuck….”
“A lot of the members on the Facebook page provided supportive messages, ideas and quite a few mentioned Emotion Works. I had never heard of Emotion Works and began to do my own personal research into the programme. During this research I realised this was exactly what I was looking for; something visual, clear and simple for children to understand. I started to implement aspects of the programme into my daily teachings when I won a competition for a year’s membership to Emotion Works and gained access to the website. I watched all the training videos and looked at all the examples of work. I thought to myself – finally, something that I can use to really home in on understanding the various aspects of emotions at the right levels for all my learners.
I attended a Saturday morning training event which I used to deepen my knowledge and understanding of the programme and discussed ways in which I could take it forward with my target pupil, class and wider school. A few months later, I attended another training event to feedback how I had implemented Emotion Works, shared some success stories and explained how I planned to take it forward.
Roll on a year and our whole school staff have now been trained in Emotion Works, we have an Emotion Works committee group, I have ran two parent information sessions which were very well received, I have my practitioner accreditation and that little troubled soul from the year before is now talking about his emotions, sharing his own ideas and strategies with other children and understands that discussing our emotions with people around us is a healthy and helpful thing to do. “
In addition to our core team and contractors, Emotion Works is becoming increasingly known and established as a co-ordinated and joined up community of practitioners, education providers and other interested parties with an interest in sharing best practice in education for emotional learning and wellbeing.
Another recent development which links with our partnership approach to building capacity in local areas is the setting up of 3 new classroom/training rooms in host schools in Glasgow, Fife and West Lothian. The local classroom hubs are spaces for our local trainers to deliver after-school twilights, to host visits from visiting colleagues or for us to run information sessions from and spread the word about our work.
Our accreditation pathways are for practitioners and mentors as well as trainers, which means we have a degree of quality control in ensuring that the Emotion Works vision is being meaningfully shared and supported locally in almost all of the Local Authorities in Scotland. We are also now developing an accreditation process for schools and nurseries thanks to a number of local champions working with us to embed best practice across their settings.
Thanks to our website membership platform and exclusive Facebook practitioner support group, our online community has become an important source of networking and idea-sharing amongst Emotion Works practitioners and supporters in Scotland. Establishing web based information and support has also meant that we are able to reach a wider audience and Emotion Works is now being used in schools and educational settings in other parts of the UK as well as Canada, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Europe and Nigeria.