Derby Schools

Reducing barriers to learning.


There is some fantastic work going on in Derby City schools and a small number of examples are here. If there is something amazing going on in your school, or if you want to learn more about any of the examples here, please get in touch on our contact page.

   Small changes make a big difference

City of Derby Academy
Designated Senior Lead for Mental Health: Pam Bancroft

City of Derby Academy (CODA) have introduced some small changes that make a huge difference to the way their school makes you feel.

One of the most noticeable is the replacement of a traditional bell for between classes, which has been replaced by music. The music is upbeat and plays for as long as it’s expected to take to walk the corridors to the next class. The result is that pupils are more motivated and uplifted between classes.

This is one of many initiatives for CODA. They have introduced a punch bag room, for 5 minutes of boxing when pupils become frustrated in class or otherwise throughout the day. There are ‘worry boxes’ clearly displayed around the school that are emptied daily by the pastoral teams. There are also notice boards with displays about equalities and wellbeing, such as LGBT issues or mindfulness.

CODA also have a wellbeing room that is used for peer to peer support, enabling pupils to go and chat with their peers about anything that might be worrying them. There is a screened off computer for children to use confidentially and access services such as Childline. There is a sensory room and children can operate lights and music using Bluetooth from the phones. Small touches, such as using tennis balls on the bottom of chairs, to reduce the noise levels in classrooms also have a magical effect in making the space feel calm and conducive to learning.

Parents also report a clear and consistent reward system in place that works well in motivating children. This includes a point system, where you can save up points for good behaviour and exchange them for something you want, like pens, a new lanyard or a football.

The cumulative effect of all these small changes, result in pupils feeling calmer, better valued and motivated to achieve in school.

   Using pupil voice to re-brand school ethos and Values

Silverhill Primary School,
Headteacher: Andrew Gallagher

Silverhill Primary school used the Emotionally Healthy Schools Project as an opportunity to re-brand their school ethos and values around wellbeing, before moving on to developing their action plan. Andrew Gallagher, Headteacher and Designated Senior Lead for Mental Health (DSLMH) took inspiration from the quote: "They may forget what you said, but they'll never forget how you made them feel."

Everyone remembers the teachers who made them happy and those who made them sad or scared. With this in mind, Andrew went into every classroom in his school and developed ‘mood boards’ with the pupils. Children were encouraged to cut and stick images that represented how they want school to make them feel.

There were no rules for this exercise and no right or wrong way for children to engage with the activity. One child stuck images of toast on the board and talked about how much he likes having toast at school. As a result, the class teacher provides toast as a regular treat for rewarding good attitudes and if the class has worked well as a team through the week.

Andrew and his SLT have used these mood boards to re-brand the whole school ethos based on key words and messages the children were using. By including pupils at the start of the process, they feel ownership over their school and children were proud of what they had made and that their voices were heard. The boards have been framed and displayed as a reminder of  what the pupils want from their school.

This is a great example of how to involve pupils in key policies and how to boost their self-esteem and pride in their school.