Woodlands Academy, Bristol, Cabot Learning Federation

Our Hamish & Milo Story

Woodlands Academy located in South Bristol is a small, one-form entry school with 165 children.

There is a high level of need within the community and high numbers of children regarded with pupil premium needs. Woodlands Academy strives to place the wellbeing of the children at the centre of all it does.

“At Woodlands, children are at the centre of everything we do. We aim to offer our pupils an education which supports and challenges every child to reach their full potential. We want children to leave Woodlands confident, responsible, determined and well-equipped for the next stage of their lives.”

The school has recently joined the Cabot Learning Federation along with two other schools, Wicklea Academy and Waycroft Academy, from the original Waycroft Multi-Academy Trust. The Cabot Learning Federation is based in the South West of England and its ethos ‘…promotes the delivery of excellent educational experiences for pupils, improving their life chances.’

Cabot Learning Federation

Woodlands Academy was part of the initial Hamish & Milo research project with the University of Bath and began using the programmes in the Autumn term of 2022.

Having a strong pastoral team and approach has been an important part of the ethos of Woodlands Academy. Lianne Sheldon their Family Link & Pastoral Support is central to developing practice and is the lead for Hamish & Milo, being supported by Assistant Head, Mike Rylands and TA, Vicky Amey, who has also begun to run groups.

Using the Hamish & Milo programme

The pastoral room where the Hamish & Milo groups are delivered is a beautiful space with soft lighting, cosy spaces, colourful displays and a very welcoming atmosphere. It is a safe space for the children to come to and know they are listened to with nurture very much at the centre of this approach.

Hamish & Milo pets along with the sock puppet pets are a central feature and the children love coming to the intervention groups.

At the start of implementing Hamish & Milo, Lianne worked with the teachers to identify children with the most need and they began to map these needs for the most vulnerable children to the Hamish & Milo programmes. As the school is small there is a sense of really knowing the children, the families and what the context and wider needs are for the children

Lianne and Vicky have a number of groups running:

Hamish & Milo Wellbeing Intervention School room Woodlands Academy Bristol
Hamish & Milo Programmes - Exploding me Icon
Hamish & Milo Programmes - Calm me Icon
Hamish & Milo Programmes - Amazing me Icon
Hamish & Milo Programmes - My friends and me Icon
Hamish & Milo Programmes - Actions Words and me Icon
Hamish & Milo Programmes - New beginnings and me Icon

“Hamish & Milo gives the children the chance to share all of the feelings they have and to know they aren’t alone with having uncomfortable feelings.”

Lianne Sheldon

There have been a number of highlights using the Hamish and Milo programme

There is a real acknowledgment of the power that a group intervention has with the range of activities, particularly the creative elements in each sessions. Lianne explained too how it; “…gives the children the chance to share all of the feelings they have and to know they aren’t alone with having uncomfortable feelings.”

Some of the highlights shared include:

  • Using the sock puppets - “The children love them, and they are so powerful in how they help the children to communicate their feelings. There are children that you think, no way will they use the sock puppets and they do! They all want them, even our Year 6’s!” Lianne.
  • A child has been attending Exploding me sessions and he was really struggling in school - he was often running away and has a range of attachment needs. He has now asked to use his volcano from one of the activities in class. He has been able to describe how: “I was going up the volcano and then coming down” which was describing how angry feelings can escalate and the pattern they take, helping him to recognise he can calm down. Lianne described how he is making an effort and begin to use these strategies. “It is about allowing the children to know, even when we have angry feelings or worries, that is OK and that we all have them as well. The children are often surprised if we say we have these feelings too.”
  • Parent feedback - A parent of a child in Year 1 who completed the Calm me programme, said how the child was using the strategies at home now.
Hamish & Milo School Story Woodlands Academy Sock Puppets
  • In an Exploding me group, led by Vicky “…there was a session where I took a child outside and gave him permission to scream. I asked how it felt to let the feeling out and he said; 'It feels weird, but I feel free!'"

  • My friends and me group - in an activity Vicky led with the children she asked them to write down and scribble all the feelings they had. “It was the biggest eye opener to see how the children responded. They were able to see how it’s OK to have all of these feelings, even horrible feelings and to not be ashamed of them. They were surprised when I showed them I had these feelings too. It was so important in the session to model and then give them permission to say what they needed to say.”

  • “Another session in My friends and me really helped the children to stand up for themselves and to question why they may do something or not, and it uncovered how sometimes children do things just because an adult tells them to, and that adult might not always be right. It was a really powerful session helping them to think and question, and know how to respond.” Vicky
  • “Children who just wouldn’t usually speak are, even doing role play in the group now” Vicky

  • “It has been interesting to see how close the children become with each other in the group, and the experience of having a really safe and trusted adult is really amazing. They really feel that sense of an ‘extra’ safe adult. We are all safe adults in school, but doing this work we really are the ‘extra’ safe adults that they can really trust, and talk to.” Vicky
Hamish & Milo School Story Woodlands Academy

“They were able to see how it’s OK to have all of these feelings, even horrible feelings and to not be ashamed of them. They were surprised when I showed them I had these feelings too. It was so important in the session to model and then give them permission to say what they needed to say.”

Vicky Amey

Building relationships with parents is a key approach for Woodlands Academy and these links with parents help them to trust in Hamish & Milo

The pastoral approach at Woodlands Academy is something the team work hard at. “The parents we have are fierce, but are on board with us and we are working together.” said Lianne.

“The parents really begin to trust us when they know the children trust us, and they ring asking to speak to us directly. I am that extra safe adult. They need to know I am on board with them, and the children also know that they can go home and talk about the session at home. It’s giving them permission to talk to someone at home too,” comments Vicky.

There is a strong commitment to working with the parents at Woodlands Academy and they are keen to use the new Hamish & Milo Family Programme that is coming soon.

Navigator Dashboard provides impact reporting

Navigator was created to help schools capture and present impact data for the children involved. Navigator tracks and highlights progression for each child within the Hamish & Milo programme and can show each child’s story.

“Navigator is a core part of the intervention now. I can see where the gaps are, and the progress and it helps us to know where we need more information or what the provision should be.”

Woodlands Academy Dashboard April 2024

Woodlands ongoing plans

There is a strong ethos in ensuring wellbeing and pastoral approaches are an ongoing practise at Woodlands Academy, with the Hamish & Milo programme a core element. As part of the Cabot Learning Federation, best practice will be shared and the intervention programmes will continue to run as a way of meeting the needs of the children and showing real impact for their engagement in learning and life.

  • Beechwood Primary School Hamish & Milo Interventions

    “Hamish & Milo is a wonderful emotional wellbeing programme that sits alongside Trauma Informed incredibly well. It is easy to follow and the enjoyment that the students and myself feel during the sessions makes us feel extremely uplifted.”

  • Burraton CP School Hamish & Milo Wellbeing Resources

    "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.”

  • Saltersgate Infant School Doncaster Hamish & Milo

    Saltersgate is an infant school in South Yorkshire that strives to place wellbeing at the centre for its 350 children. “We have never really found anything before Hamish & Milo that is bespoke enough and where we can see this level of impact. We now have developed the role of our support staff to be able to deliver this across the school and to do more of this work.”