evidence-based quality interventions, both universal and targeted, matched to pupils’ specific needs.

This section aims to provide theories, strategies and evidence-based interventions to support schools working with pupils to improve their emotional wellbeing and mental health. Please note this is not an exhaustive list. It also gives details of external providers who can offer support or advice.

Explore this section:


Did you know that 1 in 29 children aged 5-16 in the UK have been bereaved. That’s roughly one pupil per class. Grief isn’t an illness, but does increase risk. Rates of mental health difficulty are 1.5 x higher among bereaved children.

Useful websites to support you when addressing death and bereavement include:

   Creative Mentors

What are Creative Mentors?

Young people have Creative Mentors for reasons such as exclusion from school, poor school attendance, because they are struggling with behaviour difficulties or perhaps where they are experiencing a significant life challenge (e.g. bereavement, mental health problems or moving foster home).

Creative Mentors

How does it work?

Creative Mentoring offers young people one-to-one support through a carefully designed programme. Creative Mentoring is both nurturing and education-focused, seeking opportunities to help unearth where the gems of talent lie.

This is achieved by the mentor and young person working together in a practical way. Using a wide range of activities such as e.g. ecology skills, digital media, outdoor pursuits, art, science, computing, craft making, sport, music etc.. Emphasis is placed on transferable skills such as communication, planning, reflection, organisation and team work, using creative tools such as film and photography to record and share the work.

The Creative Mentor supports the child for as long as schools, professional agencies and carers feel it is needed. There is a review of progress at each PEP meeting.

Evidence and Research

Compelling evidence is emerging that, over time, it has had a positive, trans-formative impact on young people’s confidence and willingness to engage in education.

Creative mentors focus on emotional readiness for learning; and approach activity in a way that is in line with international education development – where the emphasis is shifting to work readiness skills such as empathy, leadership, teamwork, problem solving, determination, calmness and respect. All are skills that employers are increasingly requesting.

Creative Mentors encourage other supporting adults to be inspirational for the children we care for. By helping to unearth talents and reveal their often hidden ambition, we have seen young people grow in confidence. Many becoming successful in school, gaining qualifications, making friends, gaining apprenticeships and going to university.

   Meta-cognition and self-regulation

Meta-cognition and self-regulation approaches (sometimes known as ‘learning to learn’ approaches) aim to help learners think about their own learning more explicitly. This is usually by teaching pupils specific strategies to set goals, and monitor and evaluate their own academic development.

Self-regulation means managing one’s own motivation towards learning. The intention is often to give pupils a repertoire of strategies to choose from during learning activities. Teaching meta-cognition, or any other metaskill, demands the deliberate deployment of two venerable and unfashionable teaching methods; scaffolding and modelling.

A few examples:

  • The child who taught me how to spell rhythm ('Rhythm Helps Your Two Hips Move').
  • The young person who says “I wrote it this way because …”
  • The child who, until recently always crouched protectively over his work, now pushes his writing over and asks, “Is that how you spell it?"
  • Or the young person who says, “Slow down, Miss! I can’t take it all in. Can you tell me bit by bit?”

How effective is it?

Meta-cognition and self-regulation approaches have consistently high levels of impact, with pupils making an average of eight months additional progress. The evidence indicates that teaching these strategies can be particularly effective for low achieving and older pupils.

These strategies are usually more effective when taught in collaborative groups so learners can support each other and make their thinking explicit through discussion.

As cited on the Education Endowment Foundation website.

   Positive Play

Positive Play Support

We offer support for vulnerable children and young people using play to raise self-esteem and confidence, to help those young people reach their full potential in life.

What do we offer?

We offer presentations, training, and ongoing mentoring and support to schools. Our service helps school staff to deliver high quality structured support sessions for children and young people. Our service is free for maintained schools; we make a small charge for academies.

Why choose us?

Positive Play Support allows young people a space to express and communicate feelings and difficulties in their lives, through a variety of media in constructive rather than aggressive ways, and in a safe nonthreatening environment. It provides activities that look at the strengths of children and young people and values what they do and makes them special. It is non-authoritarian, safe and unconditional.

It provides the opportunity for children and young people to experience some of the early experiences that might have been missed but which are necessary for formal education and social interaction.

Young people with emotional and behavioural problems often have a negative view of school which can persist through their school career, a positive experience can change that perception.

Contact Us

Sharon Brown
Positive Play Support Programme
Pilsley Road
Tel: 01246 862854

   Social Pedagogy

Social Pedagogy is about working with children and younger adults where care and education come together.

The aim is to create a rich learning environment where they can thrive. It sees children and young adults as active and resourceful people in their own right and cares for them in a way which helps them find their own potential and connect to society.

You’ll find more information about social pedagogy and our regular social pedagogy newsletter in the related documents section by following this link.

   The Nurture Group Network

The Nurture Group Network promotes the development of nurture groups. These are small groups of children, who need short-focused support to help address issues connected to social, emotional and behavioural difficulties. They ensure the continuing quality of their delivery through accredited training programmes, research on effective practice, relevant publications and information exchange.

The original groups were started by Marjorie Boxall, an Educational Psychologist working in Hackney, in 1970. She was greatly concerned by the levels of disturbance, staff stress and referrals to Special Education and Support Services from Primary Schools. Many of the children referred to her showed good potential for learning but were not succeeding because they had not developed the social and emotional skills to adapt to school life.

They were often insecure and lacked trust in adults. In short, barriers to successful learning had been created and could be surmounted by adopting a Nurturing regime.

Most Local Authorities in UK value, and make provision for Nurture in schools and there are an increasing number of groups running in KS3 settings. Derbyshire celebrated 10 years of Nurture in 2009.

Nurture Group Principles

  • Children's learning is understood developmentally.
  • The nurture room offers a safe base.
  • Nurture is important in the development of self-esteem.
  • Language is a vital means of communication.
  • All behaviour is communication.
  • The importance of transition in children's lives.

“Supporting children with challenging behaviour through a nurture group approach.”

Ofsted, 2011

Between November 2010 and March 2011 inspectors visited 29 schools to explore their use of Nurture group provision. All the groups had been established to cater for pupils whose behaviour was causing concern. Concerns fell into three main categories:

  • overt, 'acting out' behaviour
  • disruptive behaviour that interrupted their and other's learning
  • withdrawn behaviour and a reticence to interact with others

The main findings from the report states:

“Nurture Groups were found to make a considerable difference to the behaviour and social skills of the pupils who attended them. Through intensive, well-structured teaching and support, pupils learned to manage their own behaviour, to build positive relationships with adults and with other pupils and to develop strategies to help them cope with their emotions.”

A Nurture Network Group 3-day Training Course is available annually. This leads to a nationally accredited qualification in Nurture work and also provides credits toward degree status. For more information contact Derbyshire Nurture Team:

Janet Stuart:
Suzanne Meikle-Janney: