Topic: A whole school approach to using the Resilience Framework with pupils with complex needs – Stephanie Coombe, Graham Smith and Jerry Jairette

Resources: You can download the slides and you can read our Blog.

Summary:  This research used a Whole School approach, implementing the Resilience Framework (RF) developed by Hart, Blincow and Thomas (2007) to improve outcomes for children with complex needs; set in the context of socio-economic adversity (the third most deprived Borough in England). Research shows children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) have poor long term outcomes (Department for Education, 2014). Pupils in this context benefitted from a whole school resilience approach because it focused on their strengths and needs holistically, challenging the dominant discourse of “success” currently held by neoliberal politics.

The whole school approach involved recognising the importance and positive impact of relationships and significant others in pupils’ lives – site supervisors, teachers, cooks, sports coaches and senior leaders alike. The participatory approach taken was used with staff and pupils to actively investigate what mechanisms support, or act as barriers to, developing resilience in a special needs school. Mixed methods were used; quantitative measures of school attendance and social development, along with a collaborative inquiry with staff and an arts based methodology with pupils. Outcomes of the research included the school becoming an agent of systemic change within schools nationally; challenging the educational measures of what success looks like for children with SEN.

Steph will present the PhD research from an academic perspective – the approach taken, and initial findings from the data and how this has informed the Academic Resilience Approach being used by schools nationally via the HeadStart programme. Graham will present the school’s journey from initiating the research to becoming a local and national leader in implementing the Resilience Framework in schools. Jerry will present a case study of how he has used the RF and worked with a pupil and the impact this has had on his daily lived experience.

Eleanor Smith School logo Biography:  Jerry, Graham and Steph all work at a special school for children with Special Educational Needs (Social, Emotional and Mental Health Difficulties) in East London. Graham is the Head Teacher, Steph is the Assistant Head and Jerry is a Support Worker for secondary age pupils. Steph is doing PhD research at the school in collaboration with staff and pupils, supervised by Angie Hart and Carl Walker at the University of Brighton. Between them, Graham, Steph and Jerry have over 45 years’ experience working with children with complex needs.

Who might be most interested: Teachers, school staff, academics, practitioners, researchers, parents/carers, community workers, volunteers, public sector workers, young people.

Further reading:  Hart & Heaver (2015) Resilience Programmes Guide (pdf)

This session took place on Thursday 7 July 2016.

The Resilience Forum is for ANYBODY (with a pulse!) involved with or interested in resilience research!


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