Burraton Community Primary School, Cornwall

Our Hamish & Milo Story

Burraton Community Primary School located in Saltash, Cornwall, is a two-form entry mainstream primary with around 400 children in its care. The school has an additional provision, Area Resource Base (ARB), for children referred by Cornwall SEN panel and provides a specialised environment for children with severe and complex learning difficulties.

The vision for the school is to create an ethos and environment that equips ‘our children with the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary for a successful and fulfilling life’ and they aim to ‘develop the children’s self-esteem, self-awareness and self-confidence by promoting and building on the children’s strengths and interests, developing strategies and skills that will prepare them for the next stage of their development and life.’

At Burraton Community Primary School there is a huge focus on wellbeing for all the children and a dedicated pastoral team known as the ‘HUG Team’ short for ‘Helping us Grow’. The HUG Team provides intervention and support for the whole school community and especially for those children identified as needing that little bit more support with their social and emotional wellbeing.

The team is led by Cassie Langmead, SENDCO and Alison Maclean, Assistant SENDCO, both are Trauma Informed practitioners through TISUK along with Ali Langley as Parent Support Adviser and ELSA.

Burraton Community Primary School Logo

The motto and message at the core of Burraton Community Primary School.

‘Aspiration to Achieve; Determination to Succeed.’

The school also has a very special member of the team, a school assistance dog, named Bramble who is a ‘Caine Supporting Children Specialist’ black Labrador. Bramble attends school most days, with owner Headteacher Mrs Tamblyn and welcomes the children onto the school playground in the mornings and sees them off home at the end of the day. Bramble has a wide range of roles in supporting the children’s wellbeing at school, which Hamish from Hamish & Milo HQ has been very impressed to hear all about!

In the summer term of 2022, Burraton and the HUG Team bought into Hamish & Milo for small group and individual intervention to support children with social and emotional needs.

The team had been running intervention groups but Cassie was keen to develop their provision to offer a wider range of interventions for the children, which she was able to achieve with the addition of the Hamish & Milo range of emotional theme programmes.

Cassie initially looked at the range of need, held discussions with other teachers and members within the HUG Team to prioritise the groups, the programmes and enable staff to prepare for offering the Hamish & Milo Wellbeing Intervention. Alison and Ali began with two groups, each with different programmes best suited to the needs of the children they had identified.

Bramble the Caine Supporting Children Specialist
ELSA Resources Hamish & Milo Calm me - Anxiety

Using Hamish & Milo Wellbeing Resources

Alison began with ‘Calm me’ which she felt drawn to because of her own personality and the nature of the children who needed more support with anxiety and anxious feelings. Within this group she began to see children coming out of themselves and being able to express their feelings. The children in her group particularly loved the sock puppet pets.

“All the puppets are different, the children instantly know which is theirs and whose each other puppet is. They really look forward to seeing their puppets and talking with them. Even the quieter children are talking with their puppets.”

Alison Maclean, Assistant SENCO

Another of the programmes Alison began with a group of children was ‘My friends and me’ with another group of children and recalls how one of the Year 6 children, who had previously had trouble with friendships, had become a mentor to a younger child using the skills she had learnt in the group, applying them to different situations and helping other children.

A further intervention theme Alison went on to deliver was ‘Resilient me’ with a group of children from mixed age groups. She described how the children really enjoyed the activities and that there is a real need for creative activities, especially for the older children who don’t have as much time given to that within the curriculum.

Ali started off with ‘Exploding me’ for a group of children who were finding it difficult to regulate big emotions and whilst this was a tricky group due to the nature of the children’s social and emotional developmental needs, the children engaged with the sessions. One session highlight she notes were the children expressing their angry feelings through their artwork, which she recalls “…were just amazing.”

She spoke of one of the Year 1 children who came to her after explaining in the classroom that he was ‘feeling fizzy and not managing.’ He was able to ask for help and was able to seek Ali out and remember to use the strategies to help him calm and regulate again.

“The puppets have been amazing too as a de-escalation tool. When one of the girls in the group was finding things difficult and was distressed in class, I was able to take her sock puppet pet to help calm her down and help her to feel relaxed.”

Ali was able to share an experience of one of the older boys who was reluctant at first to join the ‘Exploding me’ group and to engage in making and using the puppets. Interestingly, since the group has finished, he is the one who keeps coming back and wants more.

Friendships ELSA Resources Hamish & Milo
ELSA Resources Hamish & Milo Resilient Me
ELSA Resources Hamish & Milo Exploding Me - Angry Feelings
ELSA Resources Hamish & Milo Amazing Me - Self-esteem

Ali also ran an ‘Amazing me’ group and spoke about the depth of the relationships the children were able to make as a result of being in the group.

“It is so powerful to see how the children supported each other in the group and helped each other to speak positively about themselves. It has been amazing to see how these friendships have lasted beyond the time of the group.”

Highlights of the Hamish & Milo programme

Hamish & Milo has become embedded as a core part of the intervention and graduated response to support children’s social and emotional needs at Burraton.

“I love delivering it and the children love it. The session plans are easy to follow and just everything is there for you,” said Alison.

“Having everything there is just brilliant, the resource is flexible, and we have been able to adapt it and use it with different groups of children” continued Ali.

One of the key highlights has been the way the resource has enabled children to open up and seek support and share what they may have been reluctant to share previously.

Alison gave the example of a child sharing how difficult it was to think of anyone who was really there for him and was reluctant to put his mum despite being encouraged by other members of the group during the ‘Tree of support’ activity. “This is something we wouldn’t have found out without the activity in the group. It helped us to hear more about how things were for him and to find out more about his life at home.”

Ali agreed, “Sometimes the children seek us out after the group to share something more and it has opened up conversations over and beyond the group. The children feel safe enough to offload and are looking for that understanding.”

As part of the sessions the children are encouraged to use their journals to write or draw their thoughts and feelings.

“The children can take their journals home at the end of the group and can continue to use them at home. The children love the stickers too and enjoy creating their fact files and writing information about their sock puppets in their journal too.”

“The journals are something they can carry on with, like their own toolkit to reflect on.” said Ali.

Child Wellbeing Journal Hamish & Milo Resources

The importance of the child’s voice

Capturing children’s voices is a significant part of the Hamish & Milo intervention programme and hearing the impact for children, what they have taken from it and how it may have supported them, provides valuable insight and information to continue to support them.

One of the insights gained is that sometimes after the group experience, children highlight more uncomfortable feelings and acknowledge feelings which may show they aren’t necessarily happier but what it does offer is the insight into how children are becoming more self-aware, able to name and show even uncomfortable feelings and this is significant as it is more important that children are able to say and share how they are feeling without masking or hiding deeper and perhaps more complex feelings.

Here are some of the children’s comments following the ‘Resilient me’ resilience and ‘My Friends and me’ friendships programmes.

  • I had fun and enjoyed being with other people

  • I have learnt that I can calm down sometimes
  • I am good at making friends
  • I get to be with other people and learn about how to be a good friend
  • I have learnt that I am a kind, caring and unique friend
  • I enjoyed making new friends and talking about my feelings
  • I didn’t like saying my feelings and everyone else knowing about me
  • Everyone is unique and everyone is special
  • I have learnt not to be sad and grumpy
  • I liked having fun and being together
  • I liked that nobody was left out
  • I can make people trust me by giving them the right options
Hamish & Milo Childrens Voice Questionnaire

Measuring the impact

Hamish & Milo resources have begun to offer a way of seeing children’s development but as Cassie commented, it is often hard to evidence emotional health and wellbeing and difficult to always capture changes from teachers’ and parents’ perspectives. Cassie continued:

“Hamish & Milo has supported a real shift towards consistency and focus on the social and emotional needs of our children. The resource is manageable with the planning and progression done so that the time is focused on being with the children. There is now more of a robust organisational process in how we target and support need with the flexibility for group or one-to-one intervention.”

What follows is just some of the feedback from other staff members and parents showing the impact the resource is making:

  • B has made good progress with her self-esteem, she is attending school more regularly.
  • Wow, what a difference! L now communicates that she has had good play times with different children and positive play experiences. Her understanding of healthy friendships is amazing and she can now recognise what a good, honest friendship is and how it makes her feel. She has extended her friendships and we have worked hard out of school to encourage play dates too. The weekly sessions have been key to her thought process and how she views friendships. She can now focus on learning rather than the negativity of social interactions. Thank you 😊
  • I feel these interventions are so helpful. They have boosted M’s confidence in the playground and opened up a new friendship. I feel play isn’t as rough now and fallings out seem to be less frequent.

  • H is much more positive and able to recognise her feelings now. She is beginning to reach out and ask for help if she needs it. We are thrilled that H had the opportunity to join this group. I fear the evaluation questions won’t give as much of a positive view as there actually is – mostly because I think H is telling us more when things feel wrong… Whenever I asked her what she had to look forward to each day, she would reply ‘group’ – she counted down the days each week. I feel that her confidence has been boosted and that she has widened her ‘community’ both with the children in both groups and with the adults.

Hamish & Milo Ambassadors

One key development that Cassie and the HUG Team want to create are children who become Hamish & Milo Ambassadors, as mentors across the whole school so that the children can learn to support each other across the age range. They would also like to have additional resources so that children can sometimes join an enhanced group with additional activities and content to build on the work of the initial intervention.

Hamish & Milo at Burraton Community Primary School is becoming embedded and recognised as a core resource within their whole school approach and as part of their SEN strategy. It is exciting to hear how the children will continue to benefit from being part of the programme.

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