Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship

Interventions in Canada that are improving wellbeing outcomes for vulnerable children

Sophie Cobb, Briarwood School


The full report can be viewed/ downloaded as a PDF document here: WCMT Report March 2017

There is also a PowerPoint below which explains the project in more detail. Please feel free to use the controls to pause as you go, if the slides change too fast.

Executive Summary

In the UK the profile of good mental health and wellbeing is being promoted, with Government
initiatives being developed, extended media coverage and through local educational authorities
cascading information into schools. Theresa May (January 2017) has announced that action will take
place to tackle the stigma around mental health problems and has pledged new initiatives for
schools and employers to provide mental health support.

I was given the responsibility, as part of my assistant head role within a Bristol special school, to
lead the development of wellbeing for our pupils. During the initial stages of looking into this area I
focused on identifying existing programmes and research to support children with severe learning
difficulties. There seemed to be a lack of local and national information to support this and after
looking further afield, Canada highlighted some innovative practices that addressed some of the
areas I was focusing on. This led to my application to the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust.

Exploring wellbeing interventions and outcomes for vulnerable children focused on innovative
approaches in Canada and the USA that have made strategic changes, introduced collaborative
working and developed programmes to support the most vulnerable. The work focused on the
following research questions:

???? What are the main interventions that are being used to support the emotional health and
wellbeing of vulnerable children, especially those identified as having additional learning

???? How are local areas and organisations structuring and disseminating these approaches?

Over a period of 5 weeks I interviewed and met with a range of professionals working in schools,
mental health centres, hospital treatment centres and District School Boards.

Four main themes were identified through careful analysis of the findings and they have lead to
some key recommendations.

The key recommendations identified in this report are:

???? Collaborate – creating strong pathways to work in partnerships.

???? Tackle stigma – developing creative ways to engage and communicate with stakeholders.

???? Programmes and packages that are accessible – adapting and creating bespoke strategies
and resources to target the most vulnerable.

???? Knowledge sharing – developing clear and accessible documentation that is shared via a
detailed dissemination plan.

???? Strategic development – delivering a top down approach to provide a solid basis for

???? Interpersonal relationships – building trusting, accepting and empathetic relationships.