July 11, 2023

Attainment has improved and behavioural incidents have halved at award-winning Welsh special school

Improved pupil wellbeing 

Nurturing strength, empowering growth and building emotional resilience for every learner. These are the powerful outcomes of Ysgol Pen y Bryn’s investment in, and commitment to, Thrive principles and practices. The school’s journey to becoming a School of Excellence has seen Thrive philosophy fully-embedded and aligned to their core values resulting in a significant reduction in learner disregulations, associated behaviours and improved pupil wellbeing.  

Ysgol Pen-y-Bryn held a celebration of mental health which was attended by the Lord Mayor of Swansea Cllr Graham Thomas, Mike Hedges MS for Swansea East and senior local authority members to mark its achievement in becoming a Thrive School of Excellence.

  

‘Taking pride in their achievements’

The school, which has sites in Morriston and Penlan, has been praised by Estyn inspectors for the behaviour of its pupils, who are described as ‘taking pride in their achievements and working hard to improve’. 

Ysgol Pen-y-Bryn has planned place provision for 195 pupils aged from 4 to 19 with a wide range of severe, complex and specific additional learning needs, including autism and communication difficulties. It was named a School of Excellence after going through a rigorous assessment process with Thrive, an organisation which trains teachers and other professionals to support the social and emotional development of children and young people.  

“This is a huge achievement for us – it’s been a long journey but it’s something everyone here believes in and we see the benefits of it every day. Thrive lets us track the wellbeing progress that children are making and every child has a target that they work towards. We have seen academic progress improve and the number of emotional disregulations has halved, much of which is due to our commitment to Thrive principles, because of the relationships it helps to build between staff and pupils,” said Assistant Headteacher Laurie Llewellyn. 

“We really wanted to make sure that all of our pupils felt safe and part of our community and as illustrated above, when we ran a recent pupil survey, 99 per cent said they felt safe and 99 per cent said they felt heard by staff which tells us that what we are doing is working,”  

 

Positive impact 

Thrive’s School of Excellence award recognises extraordinary schools which are making a positive impact on their pupils, and on the wider community, by prioritising emotional wellbeing. The School of Excellence award is the highest level of achievement in Thrive’s Ambassador Schools scheme, which was launched in 2020 as a way of recognising excellence in member schools. 

There are five areas in which schools can evidence how they use Thrive to support children’s social and emotional development: Environment, Leadership, Right-time, Reparative and Relationship, with the School of Excellence award reserved for schools that achieve the highest standard across all five categories.       

As well as submitting an in-depth evidence and impact application form, the school was visited by Thrive staff to observe and assess the way that teachers and other staff implement the Thrive Approach to help build the emotional resilience of children— so they can better manage the ups and downs of life and be more open to learning.     

“Relationships are at the heart of everything that Ysgol Pen-y-Bryn does and this has helped to create a culture of wellbeing that is apparent as soon as you walk through the door. Staff are committed to embedding mental health at the heart of school life and they richly deserve this achievement,” said Eva-Marie Ford, Thrive’s Relationship Manager for the South West and Wales. 

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