Jogo Behaviour Support Blog

Positive Behaviour and Education Services Supporting Children, Young People and Families


What do children need to start school? - A sense of safety created from relationships  Friday, 8 September 2017


What do children need to start school?
A sense of safety created from relationships

For children starting school or starting back to school, it can be an exciting adventure, but also a bit daunting.  One of the factors that will further enhance the excitement and reduce their anxiety is creating a sense of safety about school within the child.  As humans, we are wired for survival and have a drive for safety.  For the majority, a sense of safety comes from the connections we have developed with the significant people around us, therefore an essential element for safety is the relationship between school staff (particularly class staff) and the child.  However, a significant factor is for the child’s parent / carer to have faith and trust in the teacher too.  They are entrusting the teacher with their most precious beings and therefore if they are confident in the teacher, they will convey this to their children.
Often prior to children starting school, Early years / Foundation teachers hold a meeting or home visit with the parents / carers.  This enables a working relationship to begin.  We suggest that the connections with parents remain just as significant in ongoing school years.  Regardless of the child’s ages, parents are still entrusting the teacher to care, nurture and teach their child. For learning to occur, children need to have an internalised sense of safety. If children feel unsafe their defensive strategies are triggered and their cognitive thinking becomes diminished.  School staff are a critical element for creating a sense of safety. 
“The position of the teacher is very similar to that of the parent in building a child’s brain.  Both can enhance a child’s emotional regulation by providing a safe haven that supports the learning process.”  (Kegan, 2000, cited in Cozolino 2013 p. 18).
Teachers who convey a sense of safety often project this through their body language. Research indicates that non-verbal messages provide a more reliable form of communication than spoken language particularly when we receive mixed messages. In other words, a person will intuitively respond to the speaker’s body language rather than their verbal communication. Bambaeeroo and Shokrpour (2017) investigated the impact of teachers' non-verbal communication on success in teaching and discovered that pupil/teacher relationships were pivotal. The findings of this study also indicate that non-verbal communication skills can play an important role in the future of a student's life.
Whilst taking into account workload, it could be that preparing a one-page profile about themselves, which includes what the teacher hopes to achieve and how they are aiming to work with the children may begin the process of building a positive working relationship between parents and teacher.  Another suggestion would be to have a meeting directly after school within the first few weeks to introduce themselves and provide the above information.  Building key relationships early in the school year may reduce parental questions later on.
Bambaeeroo, F. & Shokrpour, N. (2017) The impact of the teachers’ non-verbal communication on success in teaching.  Journal of Advances in Medical Education & Professionalism, Vol 5 (2) April 2017.  Accessed on:         
Kegan, R. (2000). What “form” transforms?:  A constructive-developmental perspective on transformational learning.  In J. Mezirow (Ed.), Learning as transformation: Critical perspectives on a theory in progress. (pp. 35-52). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.   Cited in Cozolino, L. (2013) The Social Neuroscience of Education: Optimizing Attachment & Learning in the Classroom.  New York: W.W. Norton & Co.

Your New Class - Tips to help you Booklet for new students Monday, 21 August 2017


Your New Class – Tips to help you Booklet for New Students 

This activity is a quick exercise that encourages students to reflect on the year and develops peer support. 

Ask each student to think of 3 tips that a new student coming into that year group would need to help them. 

To prompt the students’ thinking, the following questions may be of use: 
Collate the tips in to a book or leaflet that could be given to the new students coming into that year group. 

What is resilience and why do we need it? 


What is resilience and why do we need it?

Resilience is according to Grothberg, E. H. (1997)

“a universal capacity which allows a person, group or community to prevent, minimise or overcoming the damaging effects of adversity.” 

And as stated by Newman, T. (2002)

“A resilient child can resist adversity, cope with uncertainty and recover more successfully from traumatic events or episodes.”

The reality is that as human beings we will at some point need to face adversity and resilience is having the skills to prevent, minimise or overcome it. Whilst as adults we want to obviously minimise the exposure to adversity, however we also need to help children with the skills to overcome adversity too.

In recent years, there has been an interesting debate developing between the political establishment about the future course of direction for education policy. Previously an all-party parliamentary group advocated a 'Character and Resilience Manifesto'. It argued that more importance should be given to the development of "character and resilience and schools must be "more than just exam factories". It stated schools should make it part of their "core business" to nurture pupils' self-belief, perseverance and ability to bounce back from set-backs.  It also wants Ofsted to build "character and resilience" measures into its inspection framework, and for teacher training and career development programmes to "explicitly focus" on the area. A view supported by the CBI, senior politicians, and the government's social mobility adviser.   

As a young child I remember listening to the song “Rose Garden” and not fully understanding the symbolic message of the words:

“I never promised you a Rose Garden.  Along with the sunshine, there’s gotta be a little rain sometime.”

We cannot as the song says promise them a Rose Garden, but we can support the aim and vision of wanting one and help them on the journey towards it.  However we have to also instil a sense of reality that there will be disappointments, a little rain to be managed along the way. Acquiring the skill of coping with and managing the rain becomes just as important as the destination itself.

Children who are resilient are able to recognise their own abilities and are willing to try new challenges. They are able to build and maintain positive peer relationships, able to generally regulate their behaviours, are able to hold their own, able to repair following disagreements.  They feel connected to their school and have a sense of belonging.

The resilient child will have the ability to not only form these relationships but maintain and sustain them during challenging times. When the rain comes they will provide themselves, others and their relationships with coping strategies.  Resilience breeds the confidence to take risks, learn new skills and strategies, cope with more rain and develop more resilience.

How can we help children and young people build their resilience?

Developing resilience in many ways is like teaching any new skill to our pupils/students.  It will begin with an assessment of need and making sure that when we teach it the provision in which that teaching takes places matches the need we have assessed.  There will be students and pupils who will need be able to learn and acquire the skills and strategies to help build their capacity to be resilient at wave 1, while others may need wave 2 and some may need a wave 3 approach.  We need to be prepared to resource all these approaches from quality first teaching to group work and 1:1 work intervention programmes.

Whatever wave is being accessed by the pupil/student there are certain principles or factors that will always be present.

Our ability to form, maintain and sustain our relationships will have a direct connection with our levels of resilience. We can help develop resilience by recognising it is as a skill and therefore it can be learned if we teach it.  If we begin with the premise that pupils/students are capable of bouncing back, coping, weathering the storm we construct a curriculum with activities and strategies of high expectations, teaching a variety of skills like responsibility, co-operation, empathy, its ok to fail, we experience many feelings and it’s how we use them, I’m ok, you’re ok, interaction, sharing, my needs, your needs, their needs, feeling safe, helping others, giving time and attention, needing time and attention the list is endless.

As educators, we can help develop resilience by continually encouraging a safe environment that supports consistent and long lasting relationships with both adults and peers. Every day we repeatedly believe in them and their ability, encourage them to keep going, to feel that they are important, worthy and have a voice.  Furthermore it is not only that they have a voice but that their voice counts, they are able to contribute and participate in their own education, to contribute in the education of others and the development of the school.   

Resilience gives them the self-confidence to try and to keep trying, to implement skills and strategies on the way to the rose garden, cope with the rain and provide shelter from the storm.    


·    Anderson, Lynn (1968) I never promised you a rose garden. 

·  Grotberg, E. H.  (1997)  in B. Bain, et. Al. (Eds) "The International Resilience Project: Findings from the Research and the Effectiveness of Interventions", Psychology and Education in the 21st Century: Proceedings of the 54th Annual Convention of the International Council of Psychologists. Edmonton: ICPress, 1997. 118-128.)

·  Newman T (2002) Promoting resilience: a review of effective strategies for child care services, Centre for Evidence Based Social Services, University of Exeter