A Whole School Ethos
Working with schools has always been an important and rewarding part of the futureminds work. The opportunity to create a training package for staff that offers a Solution Focused rather than problem focused approach began 10 years ago with some inspiring work from Dr Linda Metcalf in Texas. With her encouragement and assistance, futuremind's designed a training and life skill development course for staff so they can be more in charge of their school day, reduce stress and really enjoy teaching (remembering why they teach and the rewards teaching brings) rather than feel overwhelmed or devalued by increasing levels of negative behaviour from students and rising expectations to achieve government targets.
Schools offer the potential to be emotionally healthy environments and the ‘Solution Focused Approach’ Training Programme can help create and maintain such environments quickly and measurably. TheFutureminds ‘Solution Focused Approach’ in Schools has a proven track record with major schools, all at different stages of their development, to create and maintain an emotionally healthy environment for staff as well as for students. Support, on-going consultation and the training of Teachers and support staff as required and necessary to maintain progress are all part of the training package. However, futureminds, having consulted and worked within various schools are aware of the need to introduce ideas slowly so they van be assimilated by the school in gradual stages. For this reason we have devised a package that can be purchased in small ‘chunks’ making it easier to budget and easier to introduce to school staff of all levels.
Level One is a core programme of training to staff over a 6 x 2 hour sessions.
This training is designed to create a strong core team of staff, who can cascade the learning to the school by example and experiential training. The work they complete not only looks at classroom/student management, but gives logical and practical psychological understanding of how adult responses are the core driving force to changing the school systems. It helps to build a highly developed sense of emotional relationship with the students, this helps students learn by observation and experience how to change their responses and reduces the need for them to use defensive responses in order to maintain their status.
The training for ‘Solution Focused Approach in Schools’ needs to be Senior Management Team led to achieve greatest benefit. Inclusion of mentors and heads of PSHE as well as teachers from all directorates/departments and differing skill levels are encouraged to attend the core training. This ensures that a wide range of personality types, teaching and learning styles are covered.
On completion of this level one training teachers and those working with challenging students are more able to manage conflict situations with a calm and consistent response using language and strategies from the solution focussed theories. Although there will be students (and sometimes staff) who struggle to work with a whole school ethos change, once the majority of staff are using this approach and students are experiencing a different and less negative response to their behaviour, a better balance of ‘teaching’ rather than ‘responding’ to is achieved with school staff and students reporting a happier, calmer, healthier environment to work within. This can have major changes for the school in:
- management of negative behaviour,
- reduction of exclusions,
- increase in staff moral,
- decrease in teacher stress therefore reducing absenteeism or presenteeism
Level Two: Cascading Training for the remainder of the staff (including administrators, learning support, Teaching Assistants and Dinner time supervisors etc).
Level Two Training can begin once the Core Group feel that they have enough practice and confidence to maintain their progress.
The cascade training is bespoke for the needs of each school and is designed in order to accommodate the schools place in their transition process. The Whole School Approach is much more successful as the staff and students take ownership of the changes, ideas, ideals, ethos and improved moral as well as the emotional maturity of everyone (including staff!)
Level Three: Maintenance and Systemic Change.
The third part of Solution Focused Approach in Schools Programme works closely with the Senior Management Team and Governors to look at how the Behaviour Policy, Family of Schools Contracts, Parent Teacher Student contracts, PSP’s, Staff Learning Agreements, Staff CPD etc., can be more Solution Focused rather than problem based. This final part ensures that the solution focussed approach becomes part of the schools processes and policies so that future staff are already engaged in the approach before they apply to work to work in the school.
Whilst we recognise that these changes can be initially feel like ‘more work’ the rewards of:
- less teacher stressed,
- more control in managing misbehaviour,
- better responses from students
- increased educational achievements (due to students that ‘feeling’ happier and safer in school increasing the ability to learn) has been shown to outweigh the initial effort to take part in the training.
futureminds ‘Bolt-on’ Services
futureminds is also able to offer additional services to the main training programme that are often a concern to staff:
- Understanding the social impact on Student Behaviour
- Eating Disorders
- Stress and the impact on teaching and learning
- Anger and emotional reasoning
Triple P (Positive Parenting Programme) for 3 to 17 years.
We are able to work with parents to help them support their child in the solution focussed approach and to increase their awareness of the causes of child misbehaviour and teenage conflict. Working with parents has helped change their perceptions of their child’s behaviour and therefore creating a less stressed environment at home.
‘futureminds’ Group work programme for children and adolescents.
A 6 week evidence based group programme using pre and post measures. This group programme (using pre and post measures from parents an teachers) has shown that children move from the clinical range (requiring referral to CAMHS or similar) to the non clinical range (no intervention required). The group work programme does include on occasion family work to help parents support their child and individual work to prepare a child for the group work.
Sex, Love and Relationships – Years 8 upwards
Many teaching staff find the boundary between being a teacher and teaching the subjects below can cause a conflict for both them and the students.
- Sex Education
- Morality and society pressure
- Needs wants and expectations – partners and parents
- Self esteem and responsible sex – contraception/abortion
Support to Support Staff
While it is universally recognised that support staff need a support system, it is rarely available within the education system and particularly for Teaching Assistants who often work with the most challenging children. The futureminds team members have been working with children and young people in Statutory Services, Mental Health settings, Assessment Centres, Fostering Agencies and within School as Young People Counsellors for a collective 60 years. We are therefore able to offer support to teaching and support staff that is often missed such as:
- Counselling/and or consultation and supervision to existing counsellors working independently within schools.
- Peer support groups to support staff mentoring, supporting or teaching difficult to reach and behavioural challenging children.
futureminds aims to be more than just a ‘one day’s wonderful training’ which can often be forgotten when the ‘shine ‘has worn off, and people in future times of stress return to their previous (default) ways of coping. Therefore the futureminds aim is to offer a completely supported and integrated service that answers queries as they arise, create bespoke training and provide support for the individuality of each school along its journey.