A parent partnership intervention that uses therapeutic storywritingto support pupils at risk of exclusion Project director: Trisha Waters, University of Chichester Co-evaluator:Prof Helen Simons November 2009
Dino the dragon lay outside his cave. Never beforehad he felt so angry. He felt his firebox heating up and before he knew it he was breathing fire. Dino knew that once he had learnt to control his angerall the little dragons would want to play withhim and be his friend… He decided to give it a try. Boy, aged 9 at risk of exclusion for challenging behaviour
Introducing Story Links What is Story Links? Story Links is a parent partnership model that uses therapeutic storywriting to support pupils at risk of exclusion. Story Links uses joint storymaking to support positive relationships between parent, child and school while also developing pupils’ reading and academic achievement. The Project delivers 3-day training courses to educational professionals in the South of England and evaluates the impact of the 10-week intervention led by these professionals in schools. A training manual to disseminate the method will be produced.
Introducing Story Links What is Story Links? Pupils age 6 to 11 years with severe emotional and behavioural difficulties related to attachment anxiety, whose reading age is at least a year below average. These are some of the most vulnerable pupils in our schools. Which pupils is Story Links aimed at?
Introducing Story Links What is Story Links? For primary age children, parents have far greater influence on the child’s academic performance than their school. (Desforges et al, 2003) It’s also true that this group of parents is the hardest for schools to engage with. (Reaching out, 2006)That’s why we need a new approach! Which pupils is Story Links aimed at? Why is it important to involve parents? Rather than asking parents to come in repeatedly to discuss poor behaviour, Story Links asks them to come and support their child’s reading. They feel empowered as parents by supporting their child’s literacy and empathising through story metaphor. It’s also fun!
Introducing Story Links What is Story Links? Which pupils is Story Links aimed at? The co-created story is typed up by the teacher at the child’s reading level and used as their reading text at home and in school. The child is engaged to read the story as it is a reminder of their parent’s involvement in their learning process. Why is it important to involve parents? How does it improve pupils’ reading?
Introducing Story Links What is Story Links? Which pupils is Story Links aimed at? Story Links is a Wave 3 SEAL intervention. It addresses the aims of Every Child Matters and the Children's Plan to improve the links between mental health and education, and develop parent partnerships. Why is it important to involve parents? How does it improve pupils’ reading? And exactly how does it fit with current SEN policy?
Evaluation aims • The evaluation assessed the impact of the ten-week Story Links programme (delivered by teachers who had completed the 3-day training) on: • pupils’ emotional and social well-being • pupils’ behaviour difficulties and rates of exclusion • engagement of parents with their child’s learning • pupils’ reading skills and engagement with learning.
Comments on pupils • A complete nightmare, lots of fights, lots of falling out which often leads to him coming in really angry off the playground.’(Classteacher) • Just about every teacher that’s taught him has said that for whatever reason they’ve found him one of the hardest to deal with. (SENCO) • I do find it very hard. I find him a 24/7 child, yeah, definitely. (Mother) • Behavioural issues have to be addressed before we can tackle his learning difficulties. (Senior manager)
Positive change in home-school relationships • The school thought she would be very hard to engage.... Mum is very eager, surprisingly eager, the school is quite shocked that she’s actually turning up religiously and is very committed (SL teacher) • John’s got behaviour problems so my interaction with the school was horrible all the time - the only interaction was ‘John’s been bad, this has happened, that’s happened’... now, it’s nice to look forward to coming in ...John glows and picks up his reading and is eager to tell us his story. (Mother)
A ‘mutually enjoyable’ activity • I didn’t realise, you know, how much he wanted, as I say, I think it was the fact that I was coming into the school as well because even Miss W said he used to get quite excited and he couldn’t wait for me to come in. (mother) • Brilliant, I really enjoyed the sessions - they used to brighten me up on a Tuesday...We had laughs and giggled. (mother) • I woke up and I felt right I’m going to enjoy today because...I can go in and see my mum again. (pupil)
Pupils’ response to Story Links sessions I just like to see my mum a bit more... when I’m at home I have my sister around all the time. And I like seeing her alone, my mum. (pupil)
Stories related to pupils’ anxieties • Bo the Elephant was stroppy and used to cry because he had to find food on his own He walked for miles and miles, digging at the ground and sniffing at the tree... (then) his keeper came in his lorry with a big box. The box was full of sticky buns which they ate together. So, Bo knew now that... he didn’t have to get stroppyand cry, trying to find food on his own. His keeper would look after him well.
Content analysis of stories • SLT: Alex the guinea pig was very angry and fed up. • Pupil: He couldn’t go for a swim in the bath but his brother and sister could. • (Girl competing with 6 siblings for attention at home) • SLT: Dino the dinosaur was very angry. He sat outside his cave and growled. • Pupil: He wanted to be the King but he wasn’t so he killed the King. • (Boy often fighting to be in control) • SLT: Ranio the Rhino was very angry. • Pupil: Because Ben had run off without him after pushing Ranio into the water hole . • (Boy who had frequent fights and few friends)
Reduction in pupils’ emotional stress (Goodman’s SDQ) Key: ≤11 = Close to average; 12-15=Slightly raised; 16-18=High; ≥19 = Very High
Improvement in classroom behaviour (Goodman’s SDQ) Key: 0-2 = Close to average; 3 = Slightly raised ; 4=high; 5-10 =Very High;
Impact on reading skills • Minimal increase measured on NARA (two-thirds initially below baseline 6.01). • Increased confidence and improved attitude to reading: What’s changed is that he now happily picks up a book and starts reading. Mark’s Mum It was more of a chore before.... you had to make her read... But ever since she’s done this... she loves it, she wants to do it. Rosie’s Dad He gets stuck on words but then he asks for help. But it’s the fact that he now wants to and it’s like he’s clicked with being able to retain a story... and putting it together in his head. Ed’s Mum
Story Links Training • Access to online training manual provided to 55 educational professionals who completed 3-day training • Capacity and sustainability • Roll out further training to educational professionals • Develop a Training-for-Trainers programme
For further information Want to find out more? Visit the Therapeutic Storywriting website or contact Trisha Waters at University of Chichester www.therapeuticstorywriting.com/storylinks email@example.com