Steph Coombe is undertaking a PhD at the Univeristy of Brighton supervised by Angie Hart and Carl Walker. She is basing her research in a special school for pupils with emotional, social and behavioural difficulties (ESBD) in East London, set in a deprived Borough with a wide range of ethnic diversity and transience. Not only do pupils have special educational needs, but also frequently have psychological diagnoses such as ADHD. They also have communication difficulties and learning difficulties. A significant number are involved with Social Care and Child and Family Consultation Services to support individual and family issues.

The school decided to use the Resilience Framework because they are aware of the poor predicted life outcomes for our pupils, who face significant disadvantage, along with their complex needs. The school has used it for the past year now, as a whole school approach. Our implementation group does this in several ways; individual work with pupils whom we wish to develop specific skills and strengths in (e.g. talents, positive relationships), using the language of the framework in our daily meetings and with pupils and parents, class work to develop pupil strengths, along with a collaborative inquiry group that involves staff from the School Cook, Midday Supervisors, Support Workers, Teachers and Senior Leaders. This is an exciting opportunity to use a real WHOLE school approach where we use action research to plan, implement and evaluate our actions. It is part of our continuing professional development programme, whereby we are learning from each other in order to support pupils and families to develop resilience as much as possible, as creatively as possible. This approach allows us to think “outside the box” to support pupils, it is not the typical bolt-on approach that most schools use when attempting to support resilience building in children and young people, of once a week lessons for a short period of time.