In October last year, the EFA team were invited to Plymouth to deliver 2 cohorts of Primary EFA to 30 staff from across Plymouth.
Ann Honey, Eggbuckland Vale Primary School, was keen to build on this and along with the support of PAPH (Plymouth Association of Headteachers) was able to secure funding for staff to become licensed to deliver both Primary & YP EFA courses to staff working in Primary & Secondary schools across the Plymouth area.
From the 20th – 30th April, the EFA team were invited back to Plymouth to facilitate a Train the Trainers course to 8 staff representing a variety of schools in the Plymouth area.
As part of their training participants were asked to deliver a 5 minute presentation on what they felt the benefits of the course were for both their colleagues and the children they work with.
We were treated to 8 fantastic presentations all of whom brought something new and rich that we hope to share with you all. We are still waiting for copies of some of the presentations, but we would like to share one written by Fiona Goodsell, PSA, from Dunstone Primary.
What is Emotional First Aid? (EFA) & Why should my school practice EFA?
On the Primary Emotional First Aid course you will receive a box (show box). This box contains a toolkit; a strategy; a resource to help your staff to identify early signs of emotional distress so that the earliest possible intervention can be put in place to achieve balance for each individual child.
It is an ethos that can be permeated throughout your school and is not just for children in crisis.
We are all part of the aim to develop happy, healthy children who enjoy life and achieve their potential (Every Child Matters 2003 ). When something interrupts that development referral to outside agencies may be required and EFA can be the 1st step (or perhaps the only step required) in that process.
The benefit of training a wide variety of staff in your setting is that children will naturally choose a person to open up to/bond with. This will not always conveniently be your best qualified or most experienced member of staff. Children’s choices might be governed by almost imperceptible differences; It could be the TA in the next classroom because of the pretty necklaces she wears or the colour of her lipstick; it could be the parent reader who wears a certain perfume/aftershave.
I have highlighted the possible needs of children requiring the support of EFA in to this EFA kit and we will look at the contents.
Firstly, most of us have something that looks similar in our homes or cars. There is usually a label that lists the contents. It is worth noting at this stage that labelling children can be a 2 edged sword. For SEN children the label of a diagnosis is required to activate the various support agencies; for the child who is labelled by adults and peers as naughty, disruptive or just ‘weird’ it can be totally destructive.
The most obvious item missing from this 1st aid kit is a plaster. EFA is not about plastering over the cracks or just treating the symptoms. It goes much deeper to find a cause – WHY do children behave in a certain way?
String – represents the rope to grab if you need a lifeline
Safety Pin – one of Maslow’s (1943)most basic needs in his hierarchy – everyone needs to feel safe
Heart – every human being needs to feel love in order to thrive
Eraser – everyone deserves the opportunity to erase any little mistakes & help to start afresh
Paperclip – something to hold us together when things fall apart
Elastic Band – for when you are stretched to your limit
Candle – to light the way when things are at their darkest
Coin – so you are never completely broke – the coin represents a monetary value here but if a child ever gets to the stage of being broken then the system has failed them – EFA can be a part of interrupting and reversing that catastrophic decline
Marble – for when you feel you are losing yours – we have all experienced the chaotic child who has so much on their mind they don’t know where to start – and we expect them to sit down, focus and concentrate in the classroom!
Sweet – represents a treat – because we all need something positive to focus on or look forward to
So the question needs to be – not “why SHOULD you practise EFA?” but
“ why WOULDN’T you ?”