Supporting children with anxiety

As part of our ongoing support for those who experience mental health issues, in 2020 we implemented a physical education programme for The Sherwood Education Centre in Nottingham.

The Sherwood Education Centre is a small group provision of education for students in Year 7-11 who are unable to attend their own schools due to anxiety-related reasons. With evidence suggesting that physical activity can help to improve mental health issues, our programme was designed to improve the pupils’ levels of anxiety, wellbeing and self-esteem over a six-month period.

The programme was split into 4 stages:

  • Stage 1 involved building relationships between coaches and pupils by working on simple activities such as throwing, catching and teamwork.
  • Stage 2 introduced learning a new sport each week and learning a relevant skill for each sport to then put into practice in team matches.
  • Stage 3 continued with learning different sports, whilst also giving the pupils an opportunity to deliver parts of the sessions themselves.
  • Stage 4 again, continued with learning new sports and skills whilst allowing pupils to lead sessions and share ideas.

The end of the six-month programme saw a considerable reduction in the pupils’ feelings of anxiety compared to their feelings of anxiety before beginning the programme. Almost all parents and staff also noted a positive different to the pupils’ wellbeing and anxiety after completing the education programme with one staff member making the following comment about one of the pupils:

“In lessons she (the student) could not even engage with the staff, if a member of staff asked her a question, she would not answer… And that was changing by the end of this, so I don’t know what the circumstances are around this massive change but there has been a massive change in this student.” – Staff Member, The Sherwood Education Centre

We are confident that our physical education programme will have a positive impact on the mental health of other pupils, and we hope to be able to deliver the programme to more schools across Nottinghamshire in the near future.

Supporting children with anxiety

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