developing relationships through empathic listening and PACE (Playfulness, Acceptance, Curiosity and Empathy), which is a way of thinking, feeling, communicating and behaving that aims to make the child feel safe in their immediate environment. All of the staff across the Trust are trained in PACE, from office admin staff to Heads of School. PACE focuses on the whole child - rather than simply seeing them as their most challenging behaviour - which enables us as staff to see the strengths and positive features that might be hidden underneath more negative

empathic listening and PACE, we’ve managed to As a result of developing relationships through behaviour.

on making a positive change.We were delighted staff feel able to express their feelings and reflect create an environment where both children and

‘very effective use of empathic playful modes of that our TIS UK report observed that we made

We adapted our school policies on behaviour interaction to engage with children’.

also created safe spaces called ‘HUTs’- Helping Us and intervention to reflect this new culture.We

soft furnishings, colourful displays, resources, toys Thrive. These spaces are small classrooms with

and emotionally available adults for children to

small social group, sand therapy, art therapy, lego to allow them to develop. Interventions may be a difficult emotions, and put interventions in place regulate themselves if they are struggling with

conversation with an emotionally available adult. therapy, animal therapy or just some 1:1

What animals do you have on site,what are the practicalities of this and howhave the children responded to them?

some of our most challenging children really calm fish, rabbits and guinea pigs.We’ve found that At the moment (!) we have chickens, tortoises,

like “I’m going to put him back now, as I can feel children to learn to attune, and they’ll say things Spending time with the animals has allowed the down when they’re able to access the animals.

The children really take pride in being able to help his heart beating fast so he must be nervous.”

look after the animals, so it’s a great way to

method of calming. All of the schools across the Biophilia (connection with nature) is a great develop their senses of responsibility.

developed these so all children can access nature. Trust have great outside spaces and we have

space andWestonMill have chickens and a forest outdoor music station, Oakwood have woodland Beechwood have a cob oven, bug hotel and

March 2020

school area. At Edison, we’ve planned outdoor education days at Routeways Devonport Park so the children can learn in the outdoors. We find children who find it difficult to complete work in a classroom can really excel outside.We encourage the children to learn, play and relax outside come rain or shine.

What benefits have you seen across the school?

Overall, the school is a much calmer place thanks to fewer behavioural issues arising and staff being equipped to tackle them efficiently when they do crop up. The corridors are quieter and more peaceful, which has resulted in staff stress levels dropping. It’s also led to a reduction in physical interventions and permanent exclusions, meaning that children can do what they come to school for – learn.

What do the children think of it?

The children love the simplicity of the initiative as it fitted so well into our existing school rules of Ready, Respectful and Safe. They love the safe spaces on offer, which include our HUTs – bases that are centrally placed in the school and staffed at all times. At The Edison Centre, children have access to an emotionally available adult at all times which means they know there is always someone there to listen and help. Children can also speak about the need for staff to have good emotional well being, and are aware that staff need to follow the school rules of RRS in order to promote wellbeing. They understand that if staff are not thinking about their own SEMH then this can lead to illness. Staff and children are very reflective about these issues.

Staffwellbeing is also an important part of the initiative – howdo you prioritise this? Howmany staff have received training? Two members of staff across theMAT have received the TIS UK training (10 day diploma), and we’ve been sure to communicate the key points of this to all staff.Whether it’s verbal/nonverbal communication, empathic listening or PACE, each of these methods play a role in ensuring the Trust is a mentally healthy place for its pupils and teachers to learn in and work at.


Our staff are diligent about keeping up with CPD, and will soon be accessing training from Mark Escott, CEO of School For Inspiring Talents in Devon – which was the first organisation in the UK to win a Trauma andMental Health Informed School Award. Staff love the wellbeing days 71

where they participate in activities like baking, art and sport. Some staff receive supervision, but the whole school has an open door policy.

Howhas thewider school community (parent /governors etc) initiative?

c) reacted to the

Trustees are passionate about helping children from across the city hence the development of Edison. They request data and evidence of staff and pupil well being and the development of becoming aMHO was high on the agenda informing school development plans.

Parents who have accessed the Edison centre respond well to the provision and 100%feel involved in the child recommend to fami

lies in similar circumstances. ’s progress and would

Beechwood parents speak positively about the rules and some are trialling them at home. Other families have appreciated the help from staff with regards to accessing food banks, school

applications, training and positive relationships.

Whatwould you say to other schools thinking of implementing an initiative like this?

Do it! Prioritising relationships and considering the wellbeing of all stakeholders, from pupils and staff to governors and parents, only ever benefits an organisation.

To apply fo Aw

Award or a Trauma andMental Health Info info

formed SchoolAw fo@traumainfo

Formore info For further info

howto apply, go to https://traumainformed

formation on the awards, and fo

k/awards formation on stress, child

mental health and training please call 020 7354 2913 or visit:

for aMentally Healthy School Award, contact


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