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#931 Supporting anxiety in children and parents – Spring Meadow Primary School

Aaron Higgon-Williams

What did we do?

The main problem I decided to address with my LBL Supporting Engagement action plan is to tackle the increased anxiety of children and their parents during the summer term.

  • Children showing increased levels of anxiety especially due to the impact of COVID on mental well-being.
  • Some identified anxious children are out of class more recently because they are struggling to cope in the classroom environment. Lower levels of engagement in learning.
  • Parents have a tendency to keep their children off school if there are any indications of their anxieties being heightened. Exacerbated from the last couple of years due to COVID
  • Children are voicing concerns about moving to secondary school. And some of our ASD children are struggling with the change of routine that SAT prep and exams will have. This heightened anxiety will affect children’s learning in the classroom.
  • Parents are concerned about the levels of stress and worry for children in Year 6, especially leading up to SATS and the big transition to the local secondary school.
  • Children find it difficult transitioning from year 2 to year 3. In year 3 they move to the KS2 playground where they mix with the older children. This leads to heightened anxiety and social issues involving different year groups.

“I have enjoyed this group; it’s been fun, I really liked the meditation session.”

“It’s nice to know I’m not the only one nervous about moving to secondary school.”

“I find talking in front of children difficult, but it was nice to talk with my friends and share my thoughts and experiences”

Some feedback from the children that completed the resilience interventions.

Summary of impact

There are different ways I have collected impact, for the resilience programme I got the children to fill out pre and post questionnaires. I analysed the results of the questionnaires; indicates positive impact in the “school” and “resilience” sections of the questionnaire. Overall, the intervention has shown good levels of impact. I also gained verbal feedback before and after each transition visit to the local high school.

For example: A couple of children didn’t want to go to the transition day because they were extremely anxious. I spoke to them beforehand and managed to persuade them to come into the mini bus with me. Initially they were quite clingy but after a while they were soon at ease. At the end of the session, I had an individual chat with the children; they both enjoyed the day meeting new people at the secondary school. On the way back to our primary school they both seemed more chilled and excited to go back next week. One anxious boy said “did you see the kitchens for cooking, I can’t wait to do that!”. I will continue to monitor progress on all transition visits to the high school going forward, hopefully this will continue to help decrease anxieties about moving school in the weeks to come.

I have also been monitoring two extremely anxious children during this period because anxiety has an impact on their attendance at school. These two children were included in the resilience programme:

  • Child 1: Attendance pre summer term 77.52%. Attendance (as of the 27/06) 81.52% + 4.00% attendance
  • Child 2: Attendance pre summer term 61.24%. Attendance (as of the 27/06) 65.96% + 4.72% attendance

Steps taken

I have completed two groups of the MSC resilience programme, 8 children in total. During this intervention there were 6 sessions:

  1. Session 1: We talked about what resilience is and filled in a scoring questionnaire. The sessions focused on identifying what makes us resilient, and how we build resilience going forward. Session 1 went over sustainable friendships, such as what makes a good and bad friend. I spent quite a bit of time discussing what makes us different from each other, each child looked at each other and listed differences.
  2. Session 2 went over worries and how to deal with those worries in the future.
  3. Session 3, was a meditation and yoga group.
  4. Session 4 the children went over mood and their mental health. They learned that all these are important factors on improving their resilience.
  5. Session 5 was the Self-esteem session, the children took turns and made positive notes on what they like about each other, with me modelling some examples. They learnt the importance to share nice things about each other, building self-esteem and therefore becoming more resilient.
  6. We finished with session 6, going over all what we’ve done over the weeks and doing a post scoring evaluation.


I organised for the Head of Year 7 and the Assistant Head of Year 7 to come into school on the 23rd May. This was the first transition assembly that the high school had done. Usually this is only the Assistant Head of Year, but we managed to get the Head of Year to attend also this year.

In addition to what was initially written in my LBL engagement plan, I have also communicated with the local secondary school’s SENCO and Head of Year 7 and we have organised additional transition visits to support our most anxious and vulnerable children. These visits are now happening (as I write this). I have also invited the secondary school staff that will be working closely with our pupils in year 7 to visit these children at SM (an environment they currently feel safe in) before the end of term. These transitions have all been planned and the importance has been explained to each child, and communicated home to their parents.

Speaking to our SENCO we also identified another child that was in need of additional transition support during this time. Knowing the contacts well (as I used to work there) I organised the Child In Care (CiC) mentor/support worker to visit the child at our school on the 3rd June. I spoke to the child before the meeting and she had some major concerns about moving to high school. But with the additional support including the SEND visits on the 28th June, 5th July and 6th July she told me she feels happier and more supported.

I have amended my original plan to include a transition wall display, which is now on display near the year 6 classrooms. (See attached picture).

During lunch time I took groups of children from the KS1 playground for a walk around the new KS2 playground so they are more familiar with the new surroundings next year. I have worked together with our SENCO for transition at Spring Meadow this year. The school understands the importance of transition, therefore have implemented a new plan this year for the whole school to move up to their new class 3 days before the end of the summer term. This will help children settle and get used to the new environment come September. These additional days to transition to the new classes and new playgrounds will support our children that have additional needs such as ASD, so hopefully they will be more settled when returning to school in September. This is now being communicated to parents.

What would we do differently

There was quite a lot to organise, so I would start earlier next time. The resilience groups were two groups of 4 because of the small area I had to work in. Next time I would like to sort out a bigger room so I could do bigger groups, 8 children per group next time would be my ideal number.

Communicating with the high school has also been quite challenging. I’m visiting the high school with our SEND cohort on the 28th June and the 5th July. I would like to have a chat with them to see if there’s any more we can build on next year to help our current year 5 cohort of children next year.

Resources required

Staff time, emailing and phoning the high school arranging meeting and visits for children.

Display: Time organising with the local high school, obtaining relevant things to display, such as school tie/colours that Y6 will transition, school map and photos.

Things that cost money: Pins, paper and display border.

Resilience training is a programme the multi school council use, which is free. But will need to arrange MSC training on how to deliver the intervention.

See how others have implemented this Big Idea

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Securing Engagement Through SEL - Clifford Road Primary

Securing Engagement - Spring Meadow Primary

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Securing Engagement - Alton Park Junior School

Removing the literacy barrier to learning - Clacton County High School

Wellbeing Workshops - Westbourne Academy

1-1 Support to Improve Engagement and Grades - One Sixth Form

Improving Behaviour with Projection Education - Trimley St Martin Primary School

Establishing a nurture space - The DEN at Trimley St Martin Primary School

The Inclusivity of EAL families within our School Community. - St Margaret's Primary School Ipswich

EAL Parental engagement at Northgate High School

Being a Learning Behaviour Lead - Ipswich Academy

Improving Handwriting - Clacton Coastal Academy

Reading and Phonics at Dale Hall

"Club Aspirations" improving self esteem and confidence at Rushmere Hall Primary

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Improving behaviour and engagement in a nurture group - Alton Park Junior School

Tackling lunchtime dysregulation and classroom focus - Castle Hill Primary School

Finding the right intervention to support engagement - Murrayfield Primary Academy


Spring Meadow Primary School

Aaron Higgon-Williams

Learning Behaviour Lead