July 2017

Our journey began in July 2017, after the local authority had consulted with schools in the Trowbridge area about the need to develop provision for young children with social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) needs in Wiltshire. The need for this provision had been recognised within the authority and highlighted by the high number of school exclusions occurring for children of a young age. Following this period of consultation, The Mead Academy Trust was awarded funding from the Primary Heads School Forum (PHF) to develop this provision within Castle Mead and River Mead Schools.  A team of professionals including Specialist Teaching Assistants, Senior/Inclusion Leaders, Wiltshire LA Educational Psychologists and a Clinical Child Psychiatrist was established to develop and set up this provision, managed by the Inclusion lead for The Mead Academy Trust.

The service level agreement put forward by the Local Authority outlines 8 core principles of the provision, which has driven our work from the outset – these are based around working closely with families and children from a young age to develop emotional stability through a multi-agency approach.

It was agreed early on in the journey that our work should be underpinned by relevant evidence and theory and if possible, by an approach that enabled us to rigorously monitor and assess the progress made by children in the programme. Following further research and consultation with practitioners, it was agreed that The Thrive Approach would be used to underpin our provision and enable us to monitor and assess the progress in the emotional development of the children within the programme. This approach, developed by psychotherapists and educationalists, is based on attachment theory, child development and neuroscience and has a focus on using the arts to explore emotions in a safe way and as a means of re-establishing social and emotional connection.

September 2017

During the first ‘pilot’ year of the provision from September 2017 – July 2018, we initially began working with 12 children within Castle Mead and River Mead Schools. We met regularly as a team to critically evaluate the process and the programme being offered and during this first year, developed our ‘formulation model’, which we used as a problem-solving framework in the multi-agency meetings with schools. At this stage of development, children were offered a combination of outreach and inreach support, and by the end of the academic year the programme was also working with children from schools outside The Mead Academy Trust.

September 2018

In September 2018 our funding was extended, and we began working with children from a larger number of schools within Wiltshire. We welcomed an Educational Psychologist from Collaborative Schools Limited, who brought a wealth of experience of working with families of young children with emotional needs, and a Clinical Child Psychologist from the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS). With a fresh team established, we continued to reflect on what the programme offered and how we could work more closely with families. We extended our inreach support to families through our ‘family sessions’ and explored other means of supporting them by signposting to other forms of family support.

February 2021

We continue to reflect on the level of support we offer to schools and families and how we might work to support schools both at a child level as well as more systemic level, through formal CPD opportunities as well as more informal discussions around emotional well-being and the processes in schools to support children who experience these needs. In 2020, we developed our ‘Pyramid Model of Support’ which captures the varying levels of support offered by The Harbour Programme.

Along our journey we continue to strive to work collaboratively (with families and schools) and creatively to affect change for young people, to enable them to safely explore and express their emotions and to equip them with skills which will benefit them throughout their life.

Our journey continues…..