Infant school stories

Infant school stories

Emotional health and wellbeing 1

We are a larger than average-sized primary school and share our campus with the Junior School. A lot of our pupils enter with a level of skills below that expected of four-year-olds. We have a unit for pupils with moderate learning difficulties, and includes pupils with behavioural, emotional and social difficulties. Pupils with communication, interaction and physical needs are also supported. We have a higher proportion of pupils with statements of SEN.

Most of the pupils attending our school are of White British heritage. A few come from other heritage backgrounds, mainly from Mixed, Asian or Asian British backgrounds. Almost all pupils speak English as their first language.

What needs did we identify?

We identified the need to increase the number of parents actively involved in their children's learning. We wanted to increase the number of parents who felt that systems were in place to support their own and their child's learning. We recognised the need to increase the variety of activities on offer for parents to support their child's learning. We also wanted to encourage and target parents/carers who sometimes find it difficult to attend school events to be involved in their child's education.

What activities / interventions did we put in place?

We ran a basic literacy and numeracy course and then introduced different curriculum afternoons; science art cooking, ICT. We held Fun and Family Learning workshops and invited outside speakers to discuss and demonstrate movement, African drumming and yoga.

What did we achieve, and how did we know?

Parent evaluations from family learning literacy and numeracy workshops suggest that these workshops have helped them to know how to support their child's learning as well as helping them personally (pronouncing words using the phonics teaching method used in school). Parent evaluations show that as a result of the workshops they feel more confident in supporting their child with the new handwriting style at home.

Pupils' whose parents have attended family learning sessions have made greater progress in reading, writing and mathematics across 2 terms than the average progress for the year group.

All the Fun and Family Learning workshops were oversubscribed and parental surveys indicated that the parents felt they had greatly benefitted from the sessions. A large proportion of the hard to reach parents attended the workshop.

Parents comments on the school website suggest they valued the experience during Healthy School Week to read with their child, meet their friends and look through their child's work together.

We have received many positive verbal feedback comments from parents and carers suggesting that text messaging is an effective way to stay in touch. We will be asking parents and carers about the effectiveness of this service in our annual questionnaire.

Parents are now more confident to talk to school staff about any difficulties that they are having in supporting their child with homework and are becoming involved in curriculum events and activities that take place in school.

What will we do next?

We have been able to involve more parents in their children's learning. Data shows that pupils whose parents attended one or more of these courses made more points progress than their peers.

Target parents/carers have attended very successful weekend family days that have also been attended by staff and governors. Examples are walking in the xxx and a water activities day. These interventions have improved the relationship between children and their parents. The children's self-esteem has raised as a result improving their emotional health & wellbeing.

Parents/carers are now more confident to talk to staff about any difficulties they are having in supporting their child with homework and they are becoming involved in curriculum events and activities that take place in school.

Senior leader quote:

'The opportunities that have been offered to the parents/carers at xxx have enabled them to support their child's learning through an improved understanding of the curriculum and terminology used in school. The sessions have also shown parents/carers how they can extend everyday activities at home, shopping trips and family days out into learning opportunities at the same time as having fun with their children!

Staff are seeing the impact of the increased involvement parents/carers are having in their child's education and we hope that we are sowing the seeds for long term family learning experiences.'

Emotional health and wellbeing 2

We are a slightly larger than average-sized infant school. The school's Reception children learn in a separate building across the school's playground. Most pupils are of White British heritage. A range of minority ethnic groups is represented in smaller numbers, very few of whom have EAL. Healthy Schools is a central part of our school's ethos and, having gained Healthy School Status, we've been working on the 'enhancement model' prioritising emotional health and wellbeing.

SEN – 18%

FSM – 10%

BME – 15%

What needs did we identify?

Many of our children were spending large amounts of time at home playing computer games and watching television, which we felt could adversely affect their social interaction and emotional development. We decided to conduct an audit of emotional health and wellbeing following an increase in incidents of poor behaviour.

We followed this audit by conducting a survey about behaviour with parents/carers and used this to help set out some outcomes.

What outcomes did we focus on?

  • Reduce recorded instances of poor behaviour;
  • Reduce the number of children with poor social skills; and
  • Reduce the number of children referred to our emotional literacy support assistants (ELSAs)

What activities / interventions did we put in place?

We spent time developing a comprehensive positive behaviour policy, exploring interventions, and coordinating activities with social and emotional aspects of learning (SEAL).

We looked at social interactions in class. We asked children to respond confidentially to questions about who they play with and turned the results into a sociogram (a graphic representation of social links that a person has). This revealed many different levels of skill in social interaction. Teachers could then focus on the children who were having weaker interactions. We used the sociogram to track the success of our interventions, which ranged from SEAL small group activities to constant informal attention and praise to encourage a change in perception of others towards these children

To support certain children who find mornings difficult we used nurture groups, which children go to first thing in the morning to participate in calming social activities. Teachers have found the groups have helped children deal more easily with the rest of the day.

At lunchtimes our ELSAs helped identified children to play better with others and are available for all children to talk to. We also implemented a Fun Friends programme for all our children to enjoy. Fun Friends has been designed to build emotional resilience, social skills and self- confidence. We ran a successful pilot scheme involving parents/carers before rolling out to all classes. Weekly sessions included play-based activities such as role-play, puppets, games, stories, music, movement and art, and focus on particular skills.

What did we achieve, and how did we know?

At the end of last year we completed another audit and set of behaviour surveys. These clearly indicated an increase in appropriate behaviour from our children. The children also told us that they felt happier. Parents/carers, who completed surveys, provided us with additional anecdotal evidence that their children were happier.

Specific achievements have included:

  • 8% reduction in the number of recorded instances of poor behaviour
  • 6% reduction in the number of children highlighted as having poor social skills
  • 7% reduction in the number of children being referred to an ELSA.

What will we do next?

Spurred on by the success of our interventions we intend to continue our Healthy Schools work. We will review to check that children's social and emotional development continues to improve. We plan to do more work with parents/carers and the wider community to strengthen these vital partnerships.

Senior leader quote:

'Everything we do, we do as a whole school ensuring that all our children benefit. We could not achieve this success without the commitment and enthusiasm of every member of staff.'