“Achieve your dreams”: Feedback Day at Stepney Park

“Achieve your dreams”: Feedback Day at Stepney Park

Last week, as this year’s Motivate to Educate service came to a close at Stepney Park Primary, we held a feedback day with pupils who had attended counselling sessions and groups with our education lead, Gail.

10 children came to three different sessions where we asked them to create a poster, image or phrase responding to the question: How did Gail help you during your counselling sessions?

Here is a sample of the pupils’ creations on feedback day:

Stepney Park Primary is located just south of Whitechapel Road and is a big school in a predominantly Bangladeshi community that is largely bi-lingual. Many of the children that we meet for counselling, between the ages of 5 and 11, are experiencing challenges at home that are common to many in the borough, with parents struggling to make ends meet.

Usually, they are referred after outbursts of anger or tearfulness or being withdrawn. But after the first or second session, they begin to open up about feelings of low confidence, about difficult relationships at home, feeling not protected or nurtured. Where possible and if parents are open to it, Gail will visit at home, to provide support with either their own mental health or parenting routines or techniques.

The children that have worked with her, request her again and again and they know it is a safe space that they can go back to.

Much of the work with the pupils, though, focused on emotional awareness, building on strengths, hopes and aspirations, or relaxation and sense of safety. Each week, sessions included different activities like breathing exercises, gratitude notes, somatic and sound healing moments, and more.

Together the pupils created a Tree of Life, where each branch had a statement or question like what are you grateful for today or Say something positive about yourself today. By the end, they’d grown a whole tree of affirmations for themselves and each other.

We also spoke with the deputy head of the school, Nathalie, about the difference M2E and Kineara’s counselling had made to the school. She said, “Gail is fabulous with just being present. Even when a support intervention has come to an end, she is always there for them. It’s lovely having someone they can check in with, and she gets a real rounded, contextual feel of what is going on in families.”

Working with families is key for creating sustainable positive changes in pupils, and they can see real change when families have invested in the process.

She also spoke about the flexibility that the M2E service has given the school, offering both longer intensive interventions, shorter therapeutic counselling and drop in style support. “Some families need longer interventions, but other need short sharp interventions. What has been most important and useful for us has been having that flexibility to adapt it to what we needed.”

Counselling with a difference

When Amla (10) began working with Gail, the school said she was active in school and taking part in all school events, and very articulate.

But they knew she was a young carer to her mum, who was struggling with her mental health, and siblings, one of whom had been diagnosed with cancer. She told us on the day, “My mum didn’t know what to do when my dad left, so I would take care of my brothers and help them get ready. She wasn’t able to shop alone so sometimes I would go into the kitchen and look at the cupboards that were empty.” She also helps to translate for mum at hospital appointments. For Amla, the most important thing Gail helped her with was the support she gave her mum, as she shared with us.

Jay came to counselling struggling to recognise his strengths and qualities. In the first session, Gail suggested to create a vision board for his hopes and dreams for the future but he found it difficult and got stuck on the finer details. With some encouragement and praise, he completed it and over the next few weeks he began to open up. He discovered he loved digging in his rooftop garden at home, so Gail brought seeds for vegetables which began to grow over the course of the term. For each pupil the support looks very different and creates a space for them to nurture their strengths and sense of confidence.

Find out more about Motivate to Educate and recent research we undertook on school pupil wellbeing.

Posted by kineara in Community, Education, Health and Wellbeing
Case studies: Three ways to support children’s mental health

Case studies: Three ways to support children’s mental health

Supporting children’s mental health, developing emotional awareness and improving school motivation are just some of the ways our education support practitioners work holistically with pupils and their families. This Children’s Mental Health Week, we share five proven techniques we have used to support pupils’ mental health and wellbeing.

Holistic and wraparound care

Having delivered our Motivate to Educate (M2E) programme for several years, we’ve seen how a holistic approach can help children and young people overcome challenges in school and out. Our practitioners have found that support pupil’s families and teachers, such as giving them to talk about any challenges they’re facing, has a directly positive impact on pupils.

“Holistic support looks at the bigger picture, addressing other challenges they may be facing in life, including issues with rent or housing insecurity, emotional wellbeing or household needs and relationships,” explains Maria, Director of Kineara.

As for wraparound care this means, “we’re here for the child, we’re here for the parent, we’re here for the teacher, we’re here to care for all aspects of the school, for them to feel healthy and safe and have somewhere to go.”

Exploring pupils’ strengths

Working with pupil’s strengths, our practitioners use a wide variety of tools in tackling worry, anxiety and challenging behaviour in pupils. These include the use of bubble wrap, breathing and relaxation techniques, tailor-made emotion cards and daily post-it notes for both the child and parent to express how they are feeling.

As a young boy who has autism, Talib used tailor-made emotion cards and visuals during M2E to communicate how he was feeling in a way that was helpful to himself and others, especially when he was feeling sad or anxious.

During M2E, Gail also found that Talib loved trains and had the incredible skill of knowing almost every route, so she suggested that dad take Talib on train journeys and make it a reward for him.

“Learning about your pupil/ child and how they think is also a learning for ourselves. We must find new routines, different structures and work hard together to creates some positive changes in school and out”, says Gail.

Strengthening family relationships

Our practitioners found that working closely with the pupils’ family during M2E had a directly positive impact on their wellbeing, emotional awareness and behaviour in school.

In the case of Dayo – who was referred to M2E over concerns for his emotional wellbeing and behaviour in class – we saw how developing family routines and incorporating hands-on activities at home helped reduce problems at school.

As the eldest child of four, Dayo would often feel left out at home which was affecting his schooling. Gail, M2E practitioner, explains that one of the things that helped strengthen family relationships was introducing some cooking time with mum.

“We’ve learnt how to communicate better. I’ve also learnt about having independent one-to-one time with each child,” says Dayo’s mum. What’s more, Dayo’s dad admitted that he never spoke about emotions to the children before, but now he makes sure to praise them and tell them how proud he is.

Join the conversation on Twitter using #ChildrensMentalHealthWeek #FindYourBrave  

Want to give your pupils/ children the best start in life? Get in touch with us to discuss how we can work with your school.

Find out more about our education support services.

Posted by kineara in Education, Impact
Motivate to Educate: End of year reflections

Motivate to Educate: End of year reflections

It’s the end of term and time to showcase another brilliant set of M2Es delivered by our dedicated, school-based practitioners. A big thank you to our partner schools, families and pupils who’ve made it all possible!

Primary pupils in Harrington Hill and Redlands Primary School celebrated after taking part in Motivate to Educate, a 15-week intensive and tailored intervention that aims to build confidence, motivation and wellbeing among pupils.

The pupils at Harrington Hill took part in a certificate ceremony led by Kineara’s school-based practitioner, Davinia, and attended by their parents and carers, whilst pupils at Redlands celebrated with a picnic and family activities delivered by practitioners, Gail and Rujia. They were the latest of over 60 local primary school pupils and their families to take part in M2E, which so far has achieved an 86% increase in emotional wellbeing and confidence among pupils.

Harrington Hill

Harrington Hill Primary in Hackney, East London, has been one of Kineara’s strongest partnerships in the last few years and is a testament to the school’s dedication to care for its pupils and the school community. This year, our partnership has led to us being shortlisted as a finalist at the Education Resource Award 2019.

Having worked with four families in our latest cohort, Davinia said: “The school had various concerns about the pupils, ranging from disruptive behaviour and emotional instability to lack of confidence and issues in the home which inflicted on their studies and wellbeing.”

Davinia utilised a wide variety of tools in tackling worry and anxiety in pupils, such as the use of bubble wrap, tailor-made emotion cards and daily post-it notes for both the child and parent to express how they are feeling. “In this cohort, art making has been a useful tool for helping children access and express difficult memories. Using materials that allow a child to make mess, should they want to, creates a freedom to access these memories and to begin to make sense of them.”

Regarding the support, Harrington Hill have said: “We could not provide the much-needed level of support we do for our whole school community without Kineara’s M2E. Their work places the child completely at the centre and nothing is too much trouble. We can honestly say we’d be lost without the service, as would our pupils and their families.”


Redlands Primary in Tower Hamlets, East London, has been another fantastic collaboration between ourselves, the school and the families we’ve worked with. Over the last year we’ve supported 15 pupils and their families, including 10 families who attended our drop-in, three parent workshops, and we’ve also provided therapeutic counselling for three families who needed more in-depth mental health support.

Talib*, one of the pupils from the latest cohort, was referred to M2E after concerns about challenging behaviour at home which was affecting his engagement and progress in school. As a young boy who has autism, the school was keen to provide extra support for Talib and the whole family in understanding autism and developing effective tools and strategies to support his wellbeing.

Through a variety of 1:1, group and parent support sessions, practical and therapeutic exercises, Gail worked with Talib to develop his emotional awareness, wellbeing and understanding of autism, so that he can build on his strengths and be proud of who he is. Living in a small overcrowded flat with another family, Gail also supported Talib’s family in completing a health assessment about their living situation, which led them onto a priority band for a new home. Recently, we found out that the family will be moving into a new 3-bedroom flat – a great achievement which we hope will not only provide space for Talib to grow and express himself freely, but improve the wellbeing of the whole family.

Reflecting on the case Gail said: “What worked extremely well was the support from the school and their drive to keep pushing for Talib and the whole family to succeed. Giving the child space to express how they’re feeling and showing parents different ways of changing their responses and routines at home, can make a real impact in improving wellbeing and enhancing positive relationships.”

Our impact

So far, we’ve delivered a total of 63 M2E programmes with three school partners and we’ve improved emotional wellbeing and confidence in 86% of cases. In addition, we’ve seen a 69% increase in family wellbeing and communication, supported 76 drop-in attendees, and addressed 29 different issues from housing to mental health and wellbeing.

Each intervention is tailored to specific need and, overall, families we work with say their children’s wellbeing, communication, and emotional awareness significantly improve after taking part in the programme. Teachers notice improved behaviour and engagement in the classroom, and our pupils experience real improvements in stress, anxiety, motivation and confidence, which impacts positively on their education.

M2E will continue to be delivered to pupils at Harrington Hill Primary in the new school year, with additional wraparound services that include drop in support for parents and for school staff.

We are currently able to partner with schools in the Greater London area. To learn more about M2E or partner with us, contact:

Read the M2E press release.

*Note: Names have been changed to protect pupil’s identity.

Posted by kineara in Community, Education, Impact