Three Renfrewshire schools awarded 'Model School Status' for their dedication to children's emotional wellbeing

Three schools in Renfrewshire who have excelled in putting children’s social and emotional learning at the heart of all they do, have been awarded Model School Status.

The three primary schools – Bishopton Primary in Bishopton, St. Margaret’s Primary in Johnstone, and Todholm Primary in Paisley - have been recognised for successfully implementing and prioritising the PATHS Programme for Schools within everyday school life over the past four years, with a particular focus on continued efforts to prioritise children’s wellbeing throughout the recent lockdowns.

Implementation of the PATHS Programme for Schools is supported by the charity Barnardo’s and is designed to facilitate the development of self-control, emotional awareness and inter-personal problem-solving skills, improving the mental health of primary school pupils. The programme is currently running in 30 schools and nursery settings across Renfrewshire.

Staff and a selection of pupils from the three primaries were presented with their awards at separate events on Wednesday 2nd June 2021 by Programme Co-ordinators from Barnardo’s, who have been working closely with each of the schools over the past four years to support them in embedding the programme into everyday learning.

Elaine Britton, Children’s Services Manager at Barnardo’s said: “We are delighted to be able to commend the whole school efforts of these three primary schools in achieving the SEL Worldwide® Model School Status. The management teams and teachers have shown such commitment to prioritising children’s emotional and social learning within their classrooms each and every day, and they are really seeing the results from doing this.

“Over the past year in particular, when the focus on mental health for all has never been more important, the schools have remained committed to running the ethos of the programme consistently through everything they do.

“This programme is all about early intervention and prevention, supporting children and young people at the earliest point to stop more serious problems arising. Some of the benefits seen for children include being able to regulate their emotions and make better choices about their behaviour, improved self-esteem and relationships, as well as the whole school approach benefitting school staff and parents.”

Wendy McNaught, Headteacher at Bishopton Primary School, said: “We are extremely proud to receive this award, which recognises the hard work of staff, pupils and the wider school community to embed good PATHS practices across Bishopton Primary School. A big thank you also goes to Kristy, our Barnardo’s coordinator, who has supported us so well on this journey.”

Aileen Cochrane, Headteacher at Todholm Primary School commented: “As a result of the programme, the children are appearing more confident and more able to navigate difficult situations and conflict.”

Gillian Miller, Headteacher at St Margaret’s Primary School, said: “We are delighted to receive such a strong accolade for our engagement with the PATHS programme. It has had a hugely positive impact on all of our pupils and has involved our families too. A lot of this positive impact is due to the dedication of Mrs Varendonck, our Health and Wellbeing Project Leader, who has been tenacious in her vision for the programme in St Margaret’s. We are delighted to be recognised as a SEL Worldwide Model School.”

Steven Quinn, director of Children’s Services at Renfrewshire Council, said: “Reducing inequalities and delivering improved health and wellbeing outcomes for children and young people continues to be a key priority for Renfrewshire. It is vital that children are taught from a young age how to understand and regulate their feelings through evidence-based emotional literacy programmes. The PATHS programme is a great example of such a programme.

“We are very proud of the work of our primary schools and nurseries in implementing the programme so successfully in partnership with the PATHS coaches. For three of our schools to have achieved Worldwide Model School Status, is a fantastic achievement and is recognition of the excellent work being undertaken to support children to be emotionally aware and have the skills and strategies to solve problems and be resilient.”

Other schools in Renfrewshire to previously have been awarded the status include Williamsburgh, St Anthony’s and St Charles’ schools.

The PATHS Programme for Schools is for educators and counsellors and is designed to facilitate the development of self-control, emotional awareness and interpersonal problem-solving skills. PATHS lessons are delivered by the classroom teacher who is supported by a PATHS coach employed by Barnardo’s.