Relax Kids in Education
Relax Kids Pilot - April 2010
Sylvester Primary School is a large school in an area of social disadvantage. It has attained the Healthy Schools standard and is working towards achieving the new enhanced Healthy Schools Status. In January 2007 the school embarked on the implementation of SEAL, the Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning. At the same time, the school appointed a new Learning Mentor, Christine Ball, who had recently trained as a Relax Kids teacher.
Almost immediately, the school's Healthy Schools & Well-being Co-ordinator, Helen Brenchley saw the opportunities Relax Kids offered in supporting the implementation of SEAL.
"Our annual Friendship Week was due to take place in February and Chris arranged for all classes in the school to attend a friendship themed Relax Kids session inside our specially built Friend Ship. It was immediately clear that the children loved the session and that here was a programme that we could easily introduce into school to support the work we had begun on SEAL."
Later that same month, Chris started an after-school Relax Kids club which is free to children and which continues to run on a rolling programme offering a series of ten sessions. Children are joined by a parent or other relative in the final session where children can teach adults what they have learned. Last academic year, Chris introduced a successful Chill Skills after school club for Years 5 & 6.
Children particularly liked the peer massage element of the Relax Kids programme and as a result Chris also trained with the Massage in Schools Association and introduced the Massage in Schools Programme into the school too.
Each term, every class in the school attends a one-hour Relax Kids session in one of the school's two Calm Rooms so that children can refresh their skills. These sessions are linked to current learning relating either to the current SEAL or PHSE curriculum. In its annual school improvement process, staff identified as a priority children being ready for school. Teachers had noticed the effects of the lack of adequate sleep on children in terms of their behaviour, participation, attention and attainment. So during a Healthy Lifestyles Week all children attended a Relax Kids session linked to the importance of sleep and practising simple stretches, breathing exercises and visualisation to try at home to help promote sleep.
Elements of the Relax Kids programme are used in the classroom to bring about changes in atmosphere of the classroom, with short, simple exercises being used successfully by teachers and support staff. During this year's SEAL theme "Good to be Me" all classrooms will be provided with a Calmer Classrooms Kit containing a range of resources to support children in managing feelings.
|"In 2006-2007 the school had the third highest number of fixed term exclusions in the borough... So far in 2009-2010 there have been no exclusions"
"Elements of the Relax Kids programme are used in the classroom to bring about changes in atmosphere..."
|"overall levels of emotional literacy in pupils has risen significantly in the two academic years since SEAL and Relax Kids were fully introduced"||
Does it work?
The school uses the NFER Emotional Literacy Assessment and Invervention tool to assess levels of emotional literacy across the whole school twice a year and it has been able to directly measure the impact of their approach to the social and emotional aspects of learning.
The overall levels of emotional literacy in pupils has risen significantly in the two academic years since SEAL and Relax Kids were fully introduced. Results show that the school has fewer children than expected with below average or well below average levels of emotional literacy. Correspondingly, the percentage of children with above average or well-above average emotional literacy are significantly higher than would be expected.
At the same time, pupil behaviour has improved dramatically. In 2006-2007 the school had the third highest number of fixed term exclusions in the borough.
By 2007-2008 this had fallen to one exclusion and levels of exclusions remained similarly low in 2008-2009. So far in 2009-2010 there have been no exclusions. The number of serious behaviour incidents, including aggressive or violent behaviour or serious disrespect halved in the first year, halved again the following year and continues to fall, current data suggests that these levels will halve again during the current academic year 2009-2010. Incidents of repetitive low level disruptive behaviour also fell by 20%.
What does the headteacher have to say?
Headteacher, John Manning believes that creating an ethos where children are able to recognise their feelings and express those feelings is vital to the future success of pupils both in school and in the wider community. Once children are aware of how they are feeling in body and mind, they can begin to name those feelings, notice when they are happening and through Relax Kids learn ways of stopping themselves becoming overwhelmed.
"The Relax Kids and Chill Skills programmes running alongside SEAL, have had big impact on our school. I have noticed that playtimes are much improved with fewer arguments and less fighting. Children are learning ways to calm down, to walk away, to use their Chill Skills to react differently and more positively in situations where they may previously have lost control. Children are now developing a tool kit of skills which they use to help them behave differently, managing their feelings and respond in a calmer manner to challenges that may face them. The positive and imaginative approach of Relax Kids helps children build their self-esteem as well as teaching them a solid set of key skills. All of which has meant a calmer atmosphere for everyone in school to enjoy."
|"Children are now developing a tool kit of skills which they use to help them behave differently"|
|"outstanding personal development, pastoral care and guidance"||
What does Ofsted think?
At the last inspection in November 2008 Ofsted recognised the work done by the school on social and emotional well-being observing that "care, guidance and support for pupils are outstanding...and their general well-being is give high priority. For instance, opportunities to visit the relaxation rooms are available for all pupils."
When describing the schools many outstanding features Ofsted recorded that "Pivotal in its success is the outstanding leadership of the headteacher who, together with dedicated, caring staff and governors, ensures the individual social and emotional needs of pupils and their families are well attended to."
Ofsted observed that in the school "a system of tracking pupils' social and emotional aspects of learning is exceptionally well developed supporting pupils' outstanding personal development, pastoral care and guidance."