Drawing and Talking
Drawing and Talking is a safe, easy to learn method of working with students to help with underlying emotional difficulties that may be affecting their learning and behaviour. The core of the method is encouraging the student to draw with a person with whom they feel comfortable, regularly, at the same time each week, and this person asking some non-intrusive questions about the pupil’s drawings. Over time, a symbolic resolution is found to old conflicts, old trauma is healed, and the student is more able to control their behaviour and better able to access the curriculum.
Working with the student’s inner world needs to be carried out safely and non-intrusively, with respect for the student’s own pace and state of being. Anyone using Drawing and Talking learns to stay in the world of the student’s drawing. The student sets the pace and decides what to bring to the session. Often, in a first session, a student will produce a very neutral drawing, something in the room or the view from a window. Once they feel safe, their imagination begins to unfold.
Comic Strip Conversations
Comic Strip Conversations are a communication tool to illustrate and simplify conversations with simple drawings. The idea was developed by Speech and Language Therapist, Carol Gray.
It is an effective tool for parents and professionals working with students with ASD, social communication difficulties and other developmental disabilities with emphasis placed on what people may be thinking and can help the student to “read between the lines” in order to :
- take the perspective of others
- follow the quick exchange of information in a conversation
- tune in to what they missed
To do this, Comic Strip Conversations use simple drawings and symbols with colour used for emotions of statements, thoughts and questions. It can be used alongside Social Stories or independently.
Evidence shows that visualisation and visual supports help students with ASD and social communication difficulties.
Social stories are a short story written in a specific style and format that describes what happens in a specific social situation. It details what might be expected from the situation and what might be expected of the student, as well as how their actions/ behaviour may be perceived. They focus on one specific area of concern and address this in a positive manner.
It helps the student understand what to do and when and describes what may not be ‘obvious’ to those with impaired social understanding.
Social Stories are evidence-based and developed alongside the child and family where possible to ensure generalisation. For optimum results they are repeated regularly and used when the child is calm and receptive. Social Stories are Individual, relevant and unique to the person taking into account their language needs.
Sensory Motor Circuits
Sensory Circuits is a short and snappy sensory motor skills programme that helps to set students up for a school day. It enables students to reach the level of alertness needed to concentrate during lessons.
Students participate in a 10-15 minute session of activities designed to improve brain processing efficiency, and they generally find that the circuit is a fun way to start the day. Doing the activities in the recommended order is vital. The right order results in a well regulated, happy child.
Order of activities
- Alerting: The first activities should be those that make the head change direction rapidly. For example: Bouncing Skipping Jumping or Step-ups.
- Organising: The second set of activities should be those that provide a motor challenge to the student. For example: Funny walks: Animal walks, Egg and spoon walk or throw and catch while on a balance board
- Calming: The third set of activities should be those that calm the student: deep pressure, proprioceptive input, and heavy work For example: Press-ups on a wall: Count to 10. Repeat 3 times, half press-ups from the floor: Push up from knees not from the feet.
The federation offers students weekly therapy sessions with an experienced and qualified counsellor. The sessions are specific to the needs of the students who are experiencing emotional difficulties that is affecting or impacting on their personal lives at home or academically in school. We recognise that our students need to develop coping skills to manage a variety of stressful experiences. Our counselling provides an opportunity for students to clarify and understand the things that may be concerning them in a safe space that aids student’s emotional wellbeing and learning. Counselling is accessed during the school day on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at Endeavour Academy via a referral form emailed to the Mental Health & Wellbeing Coordinator or an initial conversation with the onsite counsellor.
Mental Health and Wellbeing
Mental health problems affect around one in four people nationally our school is developing a whole school approach to mental health and wellbeing. Our focus will highlight the need to be aware of, the signs and symptoms of poor mental health and how it affects thinking and behaviour. Mental health issues include issues such as depression, anxiety, bipolar, eating disorders and self-harming feelings. Our counselling service offers the space to explore these feelings to get a greater understanding of what can often feel unmanageable. If students or staff are concerned about mental health issues they can approach the Wellbeing Coordinator for a learning conversation
Critical Thinking Skills and Positive Conversations
The ‘CTS’ Programme aims to provide students a creative opportunity to work one to one with staff and reflect on their experiences in a structured way. It is intended to help develop a higher level of self-awareness and awareness of others. Students can self-refer to the critical thinking skills programme by speaking to any member of staff. Staff can also refer students onto the programme via a referral form and a member of the support team will engage with the student.
Positive and Learning Conversations
Our counsellor has a physical presence around the school and engages with students throughout their day to guide them in conversations that could help them make the right decisions around the school, especially when they are out of the classroom and not engaged in the learning experience. The conversations help students to follow the ethos and boundaries of the school and build relationships with their peers and staff. This draws upon psychological theories and coaching practices. Learning conversations happen throughout the day as a way of checking-in and checking-out with students.
There are also a variety of workshops throughout the academic year. These are normally about 45 minutes to 90 minutes. These sessions are supportive, interesting, and playful, they focus on personal development issues such as self-esteem, motivation, confidence building, anger management and exam anxieties. All students can be referred to the CTS, Counselling or Workshop Interventions. Staff can also email and request a workshop or training on wellbeing or mental health issues that will be facilitated by the Mental Health & Wellbeing Coordinator.