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Managing family breakdown

Seasons for Growth has had a positive effect on vulnerable children, writes Chris Small

Seasons for Growth has had a positive effect on vulnerable children, writes Chris Small

Aprogramme designed to help pupils cope with bereavement and family breakdown is being piloted in two Edinburgh secondary schools.

Seasons for Growth is part of the Growing Confidence programme, which aims to promote emotional well-being among children, staff, parents and carers in Edinburgh.

It started as a targeted intervention in 10 primary schools in Edinburgh in 2007, before being extended to other local authority primaries in 2008- 09. In February, Trinity Academy and Wester Hailes Education Centre became the first high schools in the city to adopt it.

Using group sessions and metaphorical "visits" to the changing seasons of the year, the programme encourages young people to manage their emotions, build self- esteem and develop strategies for resilience in the face of family loss or stress. It is underpinned by the ethos of peer support, with youngsters' discussions facilitated by a trained "companion" recruited from education or social services.

Edinburgh City Council's education leader, Marilyne MacLaren, says: "This innovative programme, which targets children undergoing major emotional change, has proved very effective, with our research indicating that 90 per cent of children show increased behavioural and emotional improvement after taking part."

According to the Growing Confidence programme's evaluation, there were a variety of reasons for children's referral to Seasons for Growth. The most common were family breakdown (43 per cent), parental or close family illness (30 per cent) and parental or family bereavement (24 per cent).

Ann Moore, headteacher of the city's Preston Street Primary, says: "Seasons for Growth has really had an impact on our most vulnerable children. We see increased trust in adults, more smiles and a greater ability to express themselves and ask questions. It has also been recognised by the Children's Panel as having a positive effect."

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