BounceBack!

Introduced in UK schools

Research to support that resilient thinking can be learned could not have come at a better time, where society is faced daily with world economic uncertainty, while failures of a weak welfare state are suffocating the futures and livelihoods of young people. While research shows that low levels of resilience are strongly related to mental illness, failure to learn at school and engagement in antisocial behaviour, teaching resilience to children has become an almost mainstream approach towards significantly reducing risks associated with social, economic and emotional disadvantage.

In its mission to skill frontline education professionals with the tools to foster resilience in young people, the Resilience venture within the Young Foundation organised a series of presentations and training workshops to introduce BounceBack!, a whole-school programme by Australian based educational psychologists Toni Noble and Helen McGrath.

Although the programme has only recently started gaining momentum in the UK through the work of the Young Foundation, it has already received recognition as best community intervention in the Perth-Kinross area in Scotland, where it was introduced in 2009. Its innovative approach in combining principles of cognitive-behavioural therapy, coupled with latest findings in positive psychology scholarship and embedding them in teaching alongside curriculum imperatives, has proven an empowering tool in the hands of educators.

Workshops in London were particularly energising, as Professor Noble ensured that interactive aspects used in the programme were particularly laid out for participants to engage on and familiarise with. Attendees varied from educational psychologists, teachers and a fair number of UEL MAPP students.

The BounceBack! programme focuses on classroom strategies and activities that teach children ‘life skills’ as part of a healthy ‘success mind-set’. Its whole school application means it is embedded in the curriculum and everything revolving school life, but also forges stronger relationships with families and the community. Its multi-strategic approach equips teachers with ‘active ingredients’ to apply both towards promoting positive as well as reducing anti-social behaviour. It includes an abundance of appropriate resources gathered in each of the three Classroom Resources books. Each book contains nine units of work (Core values, People Bouncing Back, Courage, Looking on the bright side, Emotions, Relationships, Humour, No Bullying and Success), appropriate to year level and curriculum outcomes.

During workshops, the training participants had the chance to work with some of the numerous visual and performing aids supplied as part of the programme, to access purpose built online resources and get to work with each other through interactive strengths-building activities. What most teachers have particularly commented on is the programme’s key method and resourcefulness in using story and narrative, not least through its huge database of children’s literature, in engaging pupils with key concepts while encouraging dialogue.

Overall, the long overdue launch of BounceBack! in the UK appears to have made a positive start with 15 schools across the capital already signing up to having ‘bounce back’ experts, many of whom current MAPP students, teaching their staff on how to effectively and enjoyably instill resilient life-skills to their pupils.

For more information please visit Resilience @ The Young Foundation

Author’s Bio

Manos Hatzimalonas has a diverse academic and professional background from psychology to strategic communications and coaching. His areas of interest include the transformative powers of narrative in personal and societal change, positive bodies, thriving communities and post-traumatic growth. You can follow him on @parracmon

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