Thanks to the generous donation from Bobby & Peter Johnson we were able to pilot our FAST programme in East Surrey.
FAST stands for Families and Schools Together and is 6-week programme based in the school to promote positive emotional well-being in children. We have all heard about the alarming statistics about the decline in young people’s mental health and so this programme couldn’t be available at a better time.
Building on the established With Respect programme run by Welcare in primary schools in south London, our fantastic family support worker, Diane Collins, has provided sessions for 24 Year 6 children over the past year at St Matthew’s School, Redhill. The programme has been measured using the My Star outcome measurement tool and children and families who would benefit from additional or longer-term support can be referred to Welcare’s child and family support service.
The programme starts with the school identifying children who are facing difficulties with social and emotional wellbeing, those with SEND needs or those who at risk of school exclusion. They attend the hour long sessions once a week in a small group of about 6. This way each participant has the chance to grow and develop without affecting the quality of the programme being delivered. Each session starts with a check in to see how everyone is feeling and then there are a variety of tools and games to improve confidence and well being. The focus of each group is different depending on the term and cycle of the school year for instance in the autumn term pupils are new to Year 6 and the focus is on raising expectations and growing confidence. As they approach SATS it covers gaining confidence in academic ability and then in the Summer term it moves towards transition and confidence for secondary school. The emphasis is on having fun and learning about yourself through exercises, games and play, not just listening but doing.
By the end of the intervention the children have a greater understanding of how they can manage their mental well-being and what can affect their emotions, including relationships, with family and peers. They learn who they can get support from and ways in which they can relax and manage their feelings and emotions. The programme has a positive impact on children at a crucial developmental stage. Their awareness and emotional vocabulary increase and they learn invaluable techniques which will benefit them for years to come.
The children’s response has been overwhelmingly positive. They look forward to the sessions as a time to reflect in a weekly open space. They feel confident to share, realising “I am not the only one that feels this way”. When one group was asked to name one thing they had achieved as a result of the sessions one child said “being able to speak. Before this I wasn’t very good at speaking to other people. I feel confident now” while another said “I understand my feelings better … I don’t get grumpy at the littlest things”.
For Welcare Family Support Worker Diane Collins, pioneering the scheme in East Surrey it has been a very rewarding year. She says “It is so exciting starting a new group. I see the children come in apprehensive and go out with confidence. In that relatively short space of time something has changed. It is satisfying knowing that I am helping 6 children at the same time”.
Matthew Hill, Leader of Personal Development and Designated Safeguarding Lead at the school said “St Matthew’s have been very fortunate to work in partnership with Diane within the FAST program. The FAST program has had very positive impact on the children here. The program allows children time talk through areas that they find challenging. The program has allowed children to improve various skills which are so important in their daily lives, including their independence, resilience, communication and perseverance. Children love the session and always come out feeling much more confident. Diane is in constant communication with myself always reflecting on ways in which she can have a positive effect on the children’s lives.
Thank you Welcare and Diane”.
The FAST scheme is entirely funded by trusts and charitable donations. If you would like to support this vital programme you can donate by visiting our donate page