St. Mary’s Catholic Primary School: Experiences so far
- 13 June 2018
At St. Mary’s Catholic Primary School, we wanted to enrich our curriculum and support young people who struggled developing positive relationships or who had displayed anxiety or low self-esteem in year 5 and 6. However, we realised that with a group that required support socially and emotionally they also needed excellent peer role models so we chose 14 children to pilot the JASS Bronze award with during the summer term.
We have been working on the skills needed to evidence all four areas of the JASS award in school and the children have been proactive in taking part in activities at home as well. After only a short period of time, the impact can be seen. The positive role models have been excellent at asserting themselves when needed in the group and have become ‘leaders’ often correcting behaviour and leading on activities. One child when realising that another in the group was getting a green slip enquired ‘is it a good or bad?’ upon hearing it was positive he took it upon himself to tell the child he was pleased.
The children have benefitted from a wide variety of activities planned by school to provide evidence for the award e.g. snowboarding at a local ski centre or volunteering in the local park, which has allowed the children to participate in events that they would not have had the chance to have done otherwise. Their evaluations showed that the activities were rewarding and provided them with a sense of achievement. In addition, raising aspirations to move outside of the local area to experience new activities has also been beneficial and we have seen a benefit in class, where the children are more engaged and there have been lower incidents of poor or negative behaviour. In addition, the output in work by some of these children has also doubled as they want to impress the adults involved and show how hard they are working.
The group is not just about big adventures, we meet on a weekly basis, where the children have been participating in a session on animal welfare and learning how to be responsible for the animals in school. We now have a vegetable bed and will be planting vegetables to feed our rabbits to learn about sustainability. The children have also been involved in planning and facilitating community events for the elderly to help those vulnerable have a place to come and meet others, this was a great success and we have already begun planning the next one.
Identified staff have been heavily involved with the group to develop positive relationships in preparation for the transition from year 5 to year 6 and from year 6 to high school. Pupils who will be in year 6 next year will work towards the Silver award whilst other children coming into year 5 have already been identified and will work towards the Bronze award. Therefore, by participating in this award a wider range of children will be involved and get a formal accreditation for their efforts.
Overall, the JASS award has been rewarding and provided a sense of belonging for everyone involved. All the children have benefitted socially and emotionally and have made progress. Although the national curriculum does not measure this type of progress, this award recognises the achievements of those children that can often be hard to reach due to their challenging circumstances. Our school have recommended this to other schools and local councillors who have championed its success in helping community cohesion and developing good citizens of the future.