How can PTAs support emotional wellbeing at school?

12 May, 2017 : 09:39
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We know that children often feel left out and lonely at school and our research reveals that bullying tops parent concerns, with over three quarters (77%) saying it is very important for schools to offer support in this area.

PTAs are always looking for new ways to get involved at school and spend their hard earned funds, so we’ve asked our members and Facebook community for their ideas and come up with 5 ways for your PTA to support the emotional needs of children at school:

1. Build a Buddy Bus Stop

A buddy bus stop or friendship bench is a popular and fairly inexpensive way of helping children who feel alone in the playground. If a child is being left out, their friends are off school or they have no one to talk to or play with, the buddy bus stop or friendship bench is a place to sit and wait, signaling to other children that they need to be invited to join in. It’s a nice way to teach children to look after their peers.

Kate told us “We bought buddy benches for our two playgrounds and ran a competition for the children to design them.”

2. Fit a multi-sensory room

Multi-sensory rooms provide a place for children to interact in a therapeutic and pleasant environment away from the hustle and bustle of school life.

Sensory rooms can be beneficial across a wide range of ages and abilities, so they’re a good choice for both primary and secondary schools. The equipment is selected to fit the specific requirements of the children at your school.

Parentkind member Friends of Bridgewater Park PTA in Cheshire used a grant to help fund a sensory room. PTA Secretary Amy Seddon tells us why:

"We wanted to turn a bit of dead space within a building outside the school's main building into something that could be used by the pupils of the school. As a school we have fallen on hard times over the years. We fell into measures just before my eldest son started the school and since then have gained a Good rating from OFSTED last year.

The previous committee had secured a funding grant from our local housing association but this was to be used on playground equipment. We decided at this time that was not something we could afford even with the grant, so we contacted the association and asked if we could change what we used the money for and thankfully they agreed!! We also got a sum of money from our local council which will go towards helping set the room up.

We felt that as the school has some pupils who require SEN support that a sensory room would be beneficial to these pupils in particular, but also to other pupils within the school who maybe having a bad day and need somewhere for a few minutes of calming time out. The school have also recently set up a Baby and Toddler Group for the parents at the school but also the local community and we felt that a sensory room would be a great addition to this project, and would help with the development of the babies and toddlers attending. Due to us being in measures, the head of the school is also keen to regain the trust and the support of the local community and we hoped that this would help.

Even though the room is not finished it is a great conversation starter within the school and within the local community. It has gotten all the staff very excited about the prospect of having a sensory room to use with the pupils of Bridgewater Park Primary School.

As a PTA we have worked closely with the head and also the deputy head who is SEN Link within the school to establish what equipment would benefit the children of the school. This is a joint venture between Friends of Bridgewater Park PTA and Bridgewater Park Primary School, which when completed both parties will be proud of."

3. Start yoga classes

Yoga is a life skill that can help with concentration, focus and stress and that all children can benefit from.

Your PTA could arrange for an instructor to run a regular morning or after school club, provide funding for sessions around exam time, or to support children with challenging behaviour, helping them to engage better with their learning and reducing the impact of disruptive behavior.

4. Involve parent mentors

Parents are a great resource for schools and there are lots of ways they can get involved at to help achieve a better outcome. When children see parents involved in their school and learning, it encourages them to do their best.

Mentoring schemes offer an additional level of support and can be particularly useful in secondary schools. As mentors, parents may use their knowledge and experience to help students develop study skills like time management and encourage a positive attitude.

5. Engage a Family Support Worker

The PTA at Rowlands Gill Primary School in Tyne and Wear, North East England, identified challenges that prevented some families from engaging with the school, which had a negative knock-on effect on children’s behaviour. They realised that some families required extra support, especially after talking to teachers who had identified that children’s behaviour in class, such as being withdrawn, reflected challenges at home.

The PTA and the Senior Management Team decided to address the problem, and opted to employ a Family Support Worker. Their aim was to use an ‘outreach’ approach to strengthen home-school ties to benefit the whole school community.

The work of the Family Support Worker has had a demonstrably positive impact on addressing issues such as:

  • persistent lateness
  • pupil absenteeism
  • poor pupil behaviour
  • parenting and barriers to education
Read the full story here.

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Our blog is a place for a range of opinions and debate on parents and their role in their schools and their children’s education. Whilst we think this debate is really important, we don’t always agree with the views being expressed.

Tracy Nicholson
23 May 2017
This is really interesting but I wonder if there are some alternatives for Secondary Schools? I had already thought about Yoga classes but was wondering if there are some additional ideas to suit older children.
24 May 2017
Many thanks for your comment Tracy. The ideas here all came from our lovely members and Facebook community, so as new suggestions come in we'll update and share. I'll ask your question about alternatives for Secondary Schools on our Facebook page later in the week, Liz
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