We have a variety of activities and techniques that we use at Stanley Grove to promote pupil welfare and wellbeing, and each Friday afternoon, the whole school enjoy;
Our Thrive-Time is based on the ‘Thrive Approach’.
The Thrive Approach is grounded in the current scientific developments in neuroscience. The field of neuroscience has undergone rapid advances in recent years, prompted by significant innovations in brain imaging. These have yielded important insights about how the brain and nervous system function and develop. In particular, scientists have discovered that the neural pathways of the brain and wider nervous system are relatively unformed at birth, undergoing much of their development during the first three years of life in response to relational experiences with primary care-givers.
A key development during the early period of life is the establishment of the body’s stress-response system. This lays the foundation for our social and emotional development throughout life, affecting our capacity to relate, love, learn and manage stress in healthy ways.
Research has also revealed the inherent ‘plasticity’ of the brain – its capacity to forge new neural connections in response to experience. The fact that the brain retains this property to a greater or lesser degree throughout life means that where brain development has been less than optimal, it remains possible to intervene at a later stage to fill the gaps.
Our ThriveTime is based on The Thrive Approach. Several members of staff were trained in this programme to support pupils who were struggling with basic interaction skills and with their readiness to learn. However, when we started testing which pupils would benefit from this programme we discovered over 75% of our pupils were lacking in key areas of their early social and emotional development and we realised we would have to work across the entire school. That is why we developed ThriveTime so that every child could benefit.
We developed a series of activities designed to strengthen skills and experiences focusing on the earliest three stages of development as outlined by the Thrive Approach. Repetition is important which is why over the course a child’s time at Stanley Grove they will repeat the cycle of Thrivetime Activities up to seven times. We do however change some activities based on feedback and design some sessions based around Building the Bridge events with the ThriveTime criteria covered.
|Stage||Age usually developed||Based around||Healthy development||Interrupted development||Examples of ThriveTime related activity|
|Between 0-6 months||Feeling safe.Having basic needs met.Being special to someone.||Confident and appropriately trusting.Receptive to new experiences; open to relationships; willing to have a go||Timid, withdrawn, fears change.Out of touch and unable to voice on needs.Repetitive oral behaviours.Easily distracted||Hand massage: using safe touch, exploring sensations, building trust.|
|Between 6-18 months||Exploring safely.Extending experiences||Curious, creative, takes initiative.Active, easily stimulated, seeks sensory experiences.||Passive, quiet, hangs back.Unable to settle or focus.Extreme responses||Sensory Story: Experiencing tastes, smells, textures etc|
|Between 18 months and 3 years||Thinking about feeling; problem solves.Learning about cause and effect.Expresses a view.||Names, expresses and handles feelings.Understands cause and effect and rules.Thinking for themselves.||Oppositional; acts tough.Directs others; over reacts.Demanding, pushy or acts powerless||Invent Something: working with others to use given material to create something to share with the group.|
When is ThriveTime? Every Friday afternoon, with activities taking between 30-45 minutes to complete. It can be done last thing to end the week or you may choose to have a calm down period afterwards. You know your class, you decide.
How is it resourced? All materials and planning sheets are prepared for you. Collect the box from the ThriveTime store next to the creative office anytime on the Friday. You check to see which number box your class are using on the list on the door. You take that number box and sign for it. After the activity you check that all the materials are back in the box then return it by the end of the school day on Friday and sign it back in. Older children can be ThriveTime monitors, collecting and returning your box.
What is the teachers’ role? To facilitate and regulate the activity. To ensure pupils work with different people each week. To have fun with your class; ThriveTime is intended to be fun and pleasing to build trust, as well as helping pupil to regulate emotion and develop their readiness to learn.
Through a series of ‘Experiential Audits’ we have found that the children our school serves have limited life experiences including those that many take for granted, such as going with their family to a museum or even visiting Manchester’s city centre. We term this as ‘poverty of experience’ which will have a serious impact on world view, confidence and aspiration. There are many complex reasons for this including: the way many people feel alienated and socially excluded from places like museums and galleries and the lack of confidence parents speaking English as a second language feel going to unfamiliar places. Also the high level of deprivation suffered by our community makes accessing even free activities beyond many of our families means once travel and catering is taken into account. Our work is aimed at overcoming this and enriching the opportunities for our pupils and families by creating experiences open to the whole Longsight community.
Studies show that children have better life chances the more they do as a family and the more they visit and take part in cultural events. The Social Mobility Commission study (published 9th June 2016) describes the childhood origins of social mobility. It uncovers a wide social divide between children from families with high and low socio-economic status (SES) in building the childhood foundations for mobility in later life. Within this study there are three areas of significance to our projects where the gap between those children with high and low SES is getting wider and is having a significant impact on social mobility. They are: Parents taking their children to cultural places and events, families having access to extra-curricular activities, and the time spent with parents engaged in developmental activities like playing and reading, known as parental time investment. Families engaging in the activities our festivals and events provide, can be part of addressing these issues and therefore help to increase children’s social mobility and chances in life.
Through our ‘Building the Bridge’ projects, members of our community gain access to places of interest and learning many were not aware of. They are able to get a taste of the provision on offer and increase their confidence in the city’s cultural assets as welcoming places of interest and relevant to them and their families.
Attendees and volunteers at our festivals and events have opportunities to meet people such as authors, curators, sport people, artists and scientists. This expands experiences and widens outlook. The volunteering opportunities, access to organisations and activities beyond usual experiences, could all lead to increased confidence and employability and therefore improve the life chance of people within our community. Although there are other events in Longsight they tend to be on a smaller scale and/or are aimed at one particular group. Creating larger events allows the opportunity to bring people together across all faiths, ethnicities and backgrounds which strengthens us as a community. People have the opportunity to meet and interact through fun, stimulating and educational activities celebrating books and family reading as well as Manchester’s wider offer.
Producing ambitious events can be inspirational; increasing pride in coming from and living in Longsight, with people feeling uplifted by the achievement and encouraging others to engage and make more happen in and for our community. Creating and delivering our festivals and events can help our community feel that Longsight is a place, where through working together, we can celebrate who we are, get things done and bring about positive change.
By inviting other schools to join our projects also helps to build our community cohesion. This happens through sharing resources and the expertise of staff but also allowing children from different schools across our community to interact. This leads to closer ties and further collaborations in a competitive school system.
‘Building the Bridge’ began in the autumn term of 2015. Since then we have organised over 75 workshops, events, parades and festivals, across Manchester; in others schools, libraries, the Manchester Museum and the Whitworth but predominately in Longsight locations including, the Pakistani Community Centre and Longsight Library as well as our school. The combined attendance figures for these events stands at over 15,000 which include families of children from seven different schools as well as our own. The feedback has been tremendous with 94% of attendees requesting further events and rating them as ‘excellent’. When asked (at one event involving The Manchester Museum) ‘Has attending this event made it more likely that you will visit the Museum?’ 72% responded positively. This ties in with the audit we completed after the first year of bringing the cultural assets to Longsight. Our pupils visiting the Manchester Museum with their parents leapt from 0.5% to 20.5%.
We are now working on year three of our Building the Bridge project. We started year one focusing on the Whitworth and Manchester Museum but through our work have developed many more partnerships with Manchester’s social and cultural assets over the period including: Jodrell Bank, The Manchester Children’s Book Festival, the Manchester Library Service, a range of departments at The University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University and The National Football Museum who attend our events working with us to Build the Bridge between our community and the rest of Manchester.
Our activities since the start of the project in 2015 have provided over 500 volunteering opportunities. This has had a real impact with 86% of participants saying it had increased their confidence. This may lead to better employability chances for our community.
According to the organisation End Child Poverty’s figures published in November 2016 the child poverty rate nationally stands at 29%. Comparatively Longsight’s child poverty rate is 43.23%. Supporting families to access, plan, help to run and attend free educational and social activities on their doorstep is key to widening experiences and aspirations. To quote an attendee of one of our events… ‘This is the first time we have gone anywhere as a family of seven’.
We believe that schools should be the beating heart of the community. Our way of working directly supports our pupils and families but also plays a vital role in creating interest in Longsight as a whole; pulling in in funding, providing volunteering opportunities, ensuring access to a wider experience for all, bringing groups and schools together and ultimately playing a role in regenerating our community.
This could benefit every child in Longsight, not just our own pupils.
PAWS B MINDFULNESS
In Years 4, 5 and 6 pupils are taught mindfulness as part of our Physical Development, Health and Wellbeing curriculum. Mindfulness is all about