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.