Support sessions help behaviour and learning

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pupils group

Ysgol Uwchradd Tywyn work closely with Hafan, giving their pupils the opportunity to join a variety of specialist and specific well-being courses. Pupils have the option for support sessions to help them improve behaviours. As a result, many pupils have developed positive attitudes towards learning.

Number of pupils: 276
Age range: 11-16
Date of inspection: January 2018 - February 2018

Context and background to the practice

Our vision of serving all pupils and ensuring that each one reaches his or her full potential is at the heart of our work.  Over time, we have invested a great deal of time and resources to ensure that our staff foster an industrious, respectful and productive atmosphere in lessons and provide our pupils with purposeful encouragement and support at all times.  This has led to ensuring excellent behaviour and positive attitudes towards learning from many pupils. 

However, in 2014, we decided that more specialist arrangements and interventions were needed for an increasing number of pupils who were arriving at the school with difficulties or developing emotional and social problems as they grew.  Our relationship with specialist external agencies has been a strong element of our success over the years in order to refer pupils to specific services.  We decided to increase our internal processes in order to be more proactive in meeting pupils’ social, emotional and behavioural needs, and rely less on reactive external procedures.  To that end, two internal centres were established, namely ‘Hafan’ and ‘Encil’.  One provides support and the other allows reflective, quiet time for pupils who are unable to cope in mainstream lessons from time to time.

Description of the strategy or provision

Staff at Hafan run a variety of specialist and specific courses.  These are open to all of the school’s pupils.  Referrals come from the senior leadership team, staff, parents or the Inclusion Officer, and discussions are held regularly to decide which pupils would benefit from these courses.  Assessments are made by parents, members of the school’s staff and pupils themselves.  Scores from the verifying assessments are analysed on computer, and staff at Hafan then use the results to create short, purposeful sessions that focus on specific aspects. 

The most useful courses include the following:

Self-respect course: Small group sessions for around six pupils who work together on activities and games to develop self-respect, confidence and a positive body image. 

Controlling anxiety: Provision of coping strategies in situations when pupils are anxious or worry about things often.

Anger Management: Sessions that focus on different strategies and set anger management activities.

Bereavement Support: A course for pupils who have suffered a bereavement within the family.  

Clwb Cystadweithio: A club to support Year 7 pupils as they settle and socialise at the beginning of their school career.

Social Club: A programme for teenagers, which is used with groups of pupils who meet for one lesson a week to develop their emotional, communication and social skills through various games and activities.  There is a further programme to improve the skills of older pupils who have difficulty making and keeping friends.

Emotional Literacy Programme: An assessment and intervention programme for 11 to 16-year-old pupils.  The topics that are discussed include self-awareness, self-control, motivation and empathy.  The programme includes setting goals and work relating to feelings.  These sessions are held after school each week.

In addition to the above interventions, Hafan is a beneficial and calm area where pupils can come to reflect, read or talk to each other or staff during non-contact time.  Beneficial mindfulness sessions are organised each week for any pupils who want to join in. 

When a pupil is unable to cope in lessons and shows inappropriate or negative behaviour, they are given time to reflect in the Encil resource centre.  After a period of working with the Hafan staff on strategies to improve their attitude towards learning, the pupil will re-join mainstream lessons.  The pupil is given a ‘Hafan Report’ card in order for teachers and support staff to identify positive actions and appropriate behaviour.  This report is to record praise rather than to compel teachers to identify poor efforts.  Pupils’ fair efforts are rewarded appropriately.

The effect of the work on provision and pupils’ standards

A significant number of pupils attend the support sessions that are listed above.  Many pupils are also part of a variety of other beneficial clubs and extra-curricular activities.  The school’s pupils show pride in their school and appreciate its homely, familial atmosphere.

There have been no permanent exclusions for many years and the school has not excluded any pupils for a fixed term since September 2015.  Attendance rates over the last four years are strong and compare very favourably with those in other similar schools.  The attendance of pupils who are eligible for free school meals is very good and consistently higher than can be seen nationally.  The percentage of regular absences and the number of pupils who are absent persistently have decreased significantly over time, and the school has a very low level of unauthorised absences.

The school’s leaders and staff have complete trust in the pupils’ ability to shoulder responsibilities and undertake leadership roles.  Many pupils across the school make valuable contributions to the school’s life and work, and fulfil their duties enthusiastically and maturely.  For example, older pupils have had training to mentor and support their younger peers with reading.  A number of pupils lead various forums, such as the Eco Forum, the Welsh Language Forum and the Healthy Living Forum.

As a result of providing purposeful interventions and valuable opportunities for our pupils, they have strong social skills which enable them to develop as respectful and independent citizens.