Resilience for Learning
Intent – What is it? Why do we focus on it?
What is resilience?
Well, the dictionary tells us that ...
...the ability of an object or substance to spring back into shape...
And Resilience for Learning?
An article on www.youngminds.org.uk tells us that...
...students achieving good educational outcomes despite adversity...
As a school we give a lot of thought to how we are gaining an understanding of ‘resilience’ for each of our pupils in order to help them to grow and build on their capacity to handle the challenges of the world around them. We like to think that we are creating opportunities for ‘bounce back’ all the time, in every aspect of the school day and beyond when supporting both our pupils and our families.
All of our pupils have an SEN but this is not the only part of their life that will require resilience, in fact it is the world that creates the challenges, not their diagnosis and so our aim is to create a toolkit that can facilitate learning, deepen experiences and offer fun, challenging opportunities to problem solve and understand their environments. Our curriculum shows that improving engagement in these areas will create not only learning opportunities now but a love of learning that can last a lifetime.
As staff we demonstrate a positive and robust approach to dealing with challenges and show through our positivity the strength to be found in meeting challenges head on. However, we understand the pedagogy behind building resilience, as well as the adults around them demonstrating good role models we need to develop in our pupils the need to have a good understanding of themselves, others, our environment, and our feelings, to know when to persevere, when to rebuild and reflect, how to get information and how to understand how things make us feel.
There is so much that goes into being READY TO LEARN, and this needs to be a focus for each of our pupils before our days even begin!
Our intent is that all pupils have a good baseline for understanding their personal resilience strengths and their potential stressors. From this Pastoral Leads create a score and qualitative statement that can form a baseline for all professionals to use when thinking how they can best work towards a positive learning experience within their area of the curriculum.
Across school, resilience for learning is considered holistically for all pupils by all staff. It is at the heart of the curriculum and imbedded in all aspects of the school day. It is our job to spot all barriers to learning and skill up our pupils where possible to deal with these but also to do what we can to make our environment an area where resilience can be fostered and grown.
We have a designated Resilience for Learning Hub that encompasses a group of classes in which pupils’ requirement to build on resilience in order to be ‘ready’, is the biggest identifiable need. This may be guided by behaviours, rigidity of learning styles, requirements for persistent access to sensory or regulatory opportunities or other factors. Pupils have access to distinct areas that offer opportunities to take themselves to ‘calm’, ‘regulate’ and ‘explore’. Thrive Occupational Therapy guides the ideology behind these concepts and all of the hub classes work towards learning ‘outside the box’ at an individual’s pace as and when they are ready. An external mobile classroom offers a peaceful classroom environment where a calm space equals that of the creative classroom and pupils guide the free flow between environments. Here, needs such as attachment, destination anxiety and other factors can be taken into consideration.
In our curriculum, the RfL hub and across the school we consider...
- Health needs and their impact on learning - we take our language of learning into the corridors and bathrooms; lessons work around our pupils’ needs and our TAs and PCAs are heavily involved when measuring engagement.
- Behaviours as a communication – sometimes we need even more focus on our ability to be resilient. As a school, we know that boundaries create a safe place to explore our feelings, build on resilience and feel safe. We recognise that when behaviours are challenging opportunities to access a range of tools, strategies and the tolerance needed to enhance our curriculum further.
- Opportunities to build on relationships – we consider the fundamentals of communities, the need to be heard, understood, accepted and cared for. We celebrate our differences, build on or areas for development and explore SMSC and British Values throughout our curriculum.
- Stress free environments – we work hard to understand the distinct diagnoses of each pupil, to consider the stressors associated with these from the environment. We are lucky to have a purpose-built school and many areas of the school that can be used to increase opportunities for wellbeing; the hydro pool, sensory room, club house, covered outdoor areas, library and café can all build up experiences to generalise resilience beyond the classroom. We have minibuses to access the community too. We minimise stress in new environments with robust risk assessments and pre visits. Pupils who need prior learning before experiencing new places are supported. All staff are trained to deliver social stories and comic strip conversations. Jigs and schedules support pupils where now, next and then language and symbols offer guidance. The strength of our reading development is important here as we are aware that resilience is grown in environments where we understand and feel safe in our surroundings.
Opportunities to regulate for all – we all regulate in different ways. Having a positive sense of wellbeing is important. Pupils have physical breaks, hydration breaks, healthy snacks and a stimulating indoor and outdoor environment during their out of lesson times. Assemblies are stimulating and interesting, structured and offer opportunities for reflection. Further regulatory opportunities are offered throughout the day. Examples are TacPac, Zones of regulation, Sensory Circuits, our sensory swing supported by our own Occupational therapist, OT hydro sessions and physical breaks. We encourage self-regulation too, for some pupils, responsibility rewards and therefore regulates. For others who seek proprioceptive reassurance, carrying the P.E equipment or pushing the dinner trolley both serves a purpose and therefore boosts self-esteem, and also sends the right kind of stimulatory information back to the brain to keep focus and aid regulation.
- Acknowledge emotions – we have a big focus on identifying our feelings throughout the curriculum, the basics of communication are to ask for what we want and refuse what we don’t and this requires an understanding of likes, dislikes, positive and negative and links in with our emotional maturity. We worked hard to gain our Bronze Anti-Bullying Mark and this involved a piece of work led by pupils to include daily opportunities to think about how we feel. We work hard to notice our feelings, validate and acknowledge them by naming them and explore them safely at our own levels. We don’t judge or use consequences when behaviours communicate our feelings, but through empathy we guide choices and offer opportunities to build resilience.
Create tolerance for change, promote safe failures and offer sabotage! Thinking and problem solving is a distinct area of our curriculum, but is seen throughout the challenges that our young people meet head on every day. We encourage independence and never step in to complete a task that a pupil could complete for themselves, or ask for help with if needed. We encourage our pupils to reflect on their mistakes and think through alternative options. Of course, all of this is done under diligent planning where consequences of failures are planned and sabotage is safe and leads to achievable problem solving with support as needed. Some pupils struggle with slight change and we incorporate structures and strategies to respect this need. Loss, whether of an object, a routine or a person is sometimes where resilience is challenged for our young people and so changes are built into schedules as one way to create safe changes.
Am I ready?
Do I have what I need? Do I know what is expected?
Can I use my voice? Can I problem solve?
When I get it wrong does it feel safe? Can I engage?
Do I know how I feel and that my feelings are safe?
In our school you will find pupils who benefit from a proactive setting where readiness for learning and resilience is of the highest importance. Pupils achieve despite a range of barriers that could inhibit learning because staff role model resilience and use a wealth of tools to make a positive impact on pupil wellbeing, regulation and behaviours. The school is calm but the classrooms and corridors are brimming with experiences that encourage pupils to initiate, persevere, show curiosity and problem solve. Pupils outcomes are compared only to their own expected achievements; ipsative assessment is used to encourage personal bests and plan out aspirational learning journeys through an exciting and bespoke curriculum that is built on strong foundations of tolerance, empathy and respect.
A walk around our school building is all the evidence of impact you need. .