Having been a Certified Instructor in MAPA already, Angie Atkinson started at Ladygrove Primary School in 2019 with a wealth of knowledge about CPI’s training.
As Inclusion and Wellbeing Manager for Ladygrove, catering for both staff and learners, she was keen to continue the CPI ethos within the school, knowing the difference it had made in her previous academy setting.
The mainstream school, which is in Dawley, Shropshire, sits inbetween an affluent area and a more deprived area. Therefore, the school caters for a wide range of pupils from different backgrounds and staff can come up against the full spectrum of behaviour challenges.
“At Ladygrove, we have a range of different needs. We have high-flyers with good backgrounds, but we also have some children from less privileged backgrounds and who may be under other local services,” Angie said.
Angie’s initial task was to ensure the wellbeing of both staff and children and set up a nurture room.
Behaviour management strategies
The behaviour policy had already been written with a Pivotal approach - Pivotal Education being a company that CPI bought in 2017 and now falls under the CPI umbrella - and included scripted responses, space to calm down and providing safe spaces among other behaviour management strategies.
Angie’s MAPA training added to that Pivotal knowledge base and now she has made the transition to becoming a Safety Intervention Certified Instructor, she has really seen the benefits to the changes and updates in the programme, particularly the addition of the trauma module.
The trauma-based situations really enhance what we are trying to achieve. We talk about ACES (adverse childhood experiences) but when dealing with the behaviour in the moment, you might not see that they have suffered a trauma at home. The addition of the trauma element of the programme helps to provide more context to the situation even if the staff member might not know the whole story.
Angie knew that CPI training was best placed to meet Ladygrove’s needs as having been in charge of behaviour management in her previous role, she was familiar with the CPI’s train-the-trainer model and the money-saving and practical benefits of having a Certified Instructor on hand to deliver ongoing training as required.
“Not only have we saved money, but we have gained from the expertise. I can see how the behaviours are affecting the children as well as the staff. We can discuss specific behaviours experienced in the training and I can fill in a bit of the back story without giving away any of the confidentiality. It changes the viewpoint of the staff and helps to build a more positive relationship and rapport with the children. As we have the expertise at hand, I rarely need to contact CPI for any extra support but it’s good to know that they’re there if we need them.”
As of June 2023, Angie will have trained the whole school’s staff in at least some elements, for instance the verbal de-escalation methods and general philosophy, of Safety Intervention.
“The training has been really well received so far. It’s giving all the adults in the school the extra tools and skills they need as well as better understanding. It shows them why we do things the way we do and retrains the brain for the responses to become second nature. Everyone can see the solutions and the bigger picture now and it aids the understanding that behaviour is a form of communication.”
Thanks to the training, staff, including lunchtime staff, know how to handle a situation confidently with senior leaders now not being called to the playground so often.
The school has also experienced a reduction in physical holds, it is a ‘no shouting’ school and there is a strong focus on a calm, consistent, adult approach across the board.
“We used to have eight children who we had to hold, only if they were becoming a danger to themselves and others, but now we have just two children we hold, but only if we absolutely have to. It’s very rare now as they have safe adults and safe spaces so more often than not, we can de-escalate the situation effectively well before we resort to the very last option of holding them.”
Because the children are calmer, happier and feel safe at school, staff members have also become less anxious and much more confident. They know they have the skills to deal with anything that arises and as a result, everyone’s wellbeing has improved.