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How does SWERL support pupils’ wellbeing?

Teaching staff and governors from Saffron Walden County High School recently participated in a project that will enable schools to better support pupils with social, emotional and mental health needs. The UCL Institute of Education, Knowledge Exchange project - Supporting Wellbeing, Emotional Resilience & Learning (SWERL), brings researchers and schools together to use research evidence directly in practice, create case studies grounded in real life problems, and feed findings back into the research evidence cycle via co-created knowledge.

This report contains case studies from Saffron Walden County High School.


Jane Watts – Year Achievement and Intervention co-ordinator (YAC)

Hannah Copley – Sixth Form Psychology teacher

Amy Whitehouse – Key Stage 3 History co-ordinator

Leonie Gillman – School Governor (SEMH)


Saffron Walden County High School (SWCHS) is a larger than average secondary school, with a large sixth form. Total student numbers total over 2,000. The school became an academy in June 2011 and is governed by Saffron Academy Trust. The proportion of students known to be eligible for free school meals is below that found nationally, as is the proportion who speak English as an additional language and those from minority ethnic groups. The proportion of students who are disabled or identified as having special educational needs is below the national average. At the last Ofsted inspection (2012) the school was rated ‘Outstanding’.

The SWERL work that is described here took place in the spring and summer terms 2019.

An audit of our current provision using the audit tool provided by the IoE was completed with the Assistant Head. Two domains for development were identified as possible areas of research for our pilot SWERL project:

1. Graduated Response to Need: The role of the teacher

We were particularly interested in intervention options to support social/emotional aspects of learning within the classroom.

2. Robust Communication Systems

Focused on the up-to-date recording and sharing of information of students with diagnosed SEMH and linking this to our data management system for all staff to access.

Given the short timeframe available (spring to summer term 2019) we focused this pilot study on the first of these domains and focused on Interventions within the classroom.

Some examples from our Action Planning.



What did the school do?

We chose two Year 9 groups to participate on our pilot study of evidence-based interventions within the classroom, which students told us would help their wellbeing and SEMH.

a) Maths group - set 9 of 12 – target grades 4/5.

A small group of 16 students taught by the Year Achievement Coordinator. 8 students with identified SEMH needs (2 with EHCP plans), 1 hearing impaired, 1 part-time (chronic fatigue syndrome)

Given the dynamics of the class and the wider awareness of their needs, this group requires lot of support.