In 2017/2018 Southward Primary School found itself needing interventions for social, emotional, and mental health needs that were more sustainable and effective. Before the implementation of relational practice at Southwood Primary School, the management and approach to behaviour were punitive. Wave 3 Nurture provision was required and there were over 30 exclusions per year.

“Staff were stressed, helpless and constantly felt inadequate with their management of behaviour.”

But their vision was to have a school filled with joy, happiness, a sense of purpose for the community, and empowerment,

The SLT and inclusion team spearheaded a mission to develop a deeper understanding of trauma and therapeutic provisions and the realization that punitive measures were neither safe, helpful, nor successful. This began their whole school approach to relational practice. They used “When the Adults Change” to review and adapt behaviour policy. 

They introduced respect agreements in classrooms to foster a shared vision of values within the class and the school. 

All staff now understand the importance of strong, healthy, and stable relationships with parents and students. They have a trauma-informed and relational framework to rely on when difficulties arise. While a dedicated Inclusion team supports the school’s values and connections, acknowledging that some students require additional relational support. Expectations for adult behaviour in developing, building, and maintaining relationships within the school community are clear, simple, and consistent. Recognition is used as a strategy to uphold expectations, fostering a culture of recognition for staff, parents, and children.

A significant achievement for the school that reflects the work and effort they have put into relational practice is that Southwood Primary now reports exclusions have been eliminated. 

Southwood Primary’s journey demonstrates that embedding relational practice can bring about profound positive change. It showcases the importance of investing in staff development, embracing evidence-based approaches, and nurturing strong connections within the school community.