In the news - Lisa Davies

24th June 2011 at 01:00

Glitter, candles and colourful drapes have been used to transform a disused classroom at Ruskin Junior School in Swindon into a "tranquility room". Deputy head Lisa Davies, who came up with the idea, says the haven is improving exam results and boosting children's self-esteem.

How can a classroom be tranquil?

It was an unused mobile classroom, but now we have got drapes, glitter, sparkles, lots of lights and candles, as well as different kinds of seating and cushions. I believe the idea of a tranquility room originally came from a parent whose child had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. A few other schools in Swindon now have them, but ours is the largest.

What happens in the room?

Children go on an imaginary journey, where they meet wise men. Then they go into a cave where there are lots of gems. They realise the gems represent themselves. The talking sessions are led by our tranquility facilitator Gayle Wollen, a teaching assistant, and last an hour and a half.

How do you decide who needs to use it?

Around 90 children have been in so far, and the aim is for all pupils to have a session. During Sats week every Year 6 pupil visited the room. We have targeted young carers and children with behavioural problems, and some children who are quiet have also used it. Police officers have been directing families to us who they think could benefit.

How do you know the room works?

Raising academic results was not the initial aim, but we tested some children who had benefited and almost 60 per cent made six months' progress in 10 weeks. Pupils who have attended are happier and more settled, and feel they have been listened to and appreciated. We have been visited by academics from Brighton and New York universities.

What do parents think?

Parents say children sleep better, and it has been a useful talking point for pupils. What we find now is that parents hear about the room through word of mouth and are requesting it for their children to raise their self-esteem. Parents and children have set up tranquility spaces in their own homes, where they can relax and experience the same stories together, or simply reflect on things that have been happening in their lives.

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