Publication - Report

Positive behaviour in the early years: research report

Published: 12 Sep 2008
Directorate:
Children and Families Directorate
Part of:
Education
ISBN:
9780755918102

Report of research into perceptions of staff, service providers and parents in managing and promoting positive behaviour in early years and early primary settings.

186 page PDF

956.8 kB

186 page PDF

956.8 kB

Contents
Positive behaviour in the early years: research report
CHAPTER EIGHT CASE STUDIES

186 page PDF

956.8 kB

CHAPTER EIGHT CASE STUDIES

8.1 Background to illustrative case studies

The focus for the case studies was twofold: to present features of good practice in terms of positive behaviour through a selection of settings drawn from each authority and across the range of provision, and secondly to present themed case studies of aspects of practice which emerged as crucial for any setting taking a focus on positive behaviour. Eight settings were chosen for the Setting Case Studies, four themes emerged for the Themed Case Studies: Practice in 0-3, Interaction, Multi-Professional Approaches & Inter-Agency Working, and Transition.

Table 8.1 - rationale for choice of case study settings

Setting

Reasons for inclusion in case-study process (also refer to Good Practice Overview)

Parental Return Rate

Social Deprivation Index/Decile

Case Study 1

Nursery School

Only setting to have 100% parental return rate! ( LA); standard to good practice on 4 themed aspects.

100%

33.37 / 3

Case Study 2a and b

Primary School with Nursery Class and associated Family Centre

Setting offers activities based on Emotional Literacy Curriculum; ties in well with well-being and involvement principles. Settings works closely with the local Child and Family Centre and has a Family Support Teacher who may facilitate parental interviews and focus groups. Good practice on 4 themed aspects ( LA)

20%

57.65 / 1

Case Study 3

Child & Family Centre,

Setting has very good inter-agency working practice- standard to good on other three aspects. ( LA)

44%

49.04 / 1

Case Study 4

Partnership provider

Good practice on transition and interaction.

64%

1.98 /10

Case Study 5

Primary School and Nursery Class

4 themed aspects identified in Good Practice Document. ( LA)

39%

43.63 / 2

Case Study 6

Nursery Centre

Standard to good practice on 4 themed aspects. ( LA)

13%
(No staff materials returned)

41.88 / 2

Case Study 7

Nursery School

Setting has family support teacher which may facilitate parental interviews and focus groups. ( LA)

88%

41.71 / 2

Case Study 8

Partner provider

Some good practice on themed aspects.

42%
(Only part of staff SDQ's returned)

17.1 / 5

* In two cases, settings were completely unprepared for the Case Study visits - although they had received the same information as the others- one had returned very little data originally and had been included on that basis.

8.2 Overview of Setting Case Studies

8.2.1 Method

Eight settings were identified (Table 8.1) - one was a composite of linked services operating in the same area (Case Study 2).

Table 8.2 Case Study Settings by type - identification of children

Type of Setting

0-3

3-5

P.1

Case Study 1 - Nursery School

v L M H

Case Study 2a- Primary with Nursery Class

v L M H

v L M H x 2

Case Study 2b - Linked Family Centre

v L M H

Case Study 3 - Family Centre

v L M H

Case Study 4 - Private Partner Provider

v L M H

Case Study 5 - Primary with Nursery Class

v L M H

v L M H x 2

Case Study 6 - Nursery Class

v L M H

Case Study 7 - Nursery School

v L M H

Case Study 8 - Private Partner Provider

v L M H

v L M H

Total numbers aimed for

4 x 3 = 12

6 x 3 = 18

2 x 3 = 6

Each of the eight settings identified was invited to collaborate in undertaking four elements -

1) To identify 3 children per setting (one at each of low, medium and high well-being) on which they will complete the Hutchison and Smith screening schedule with researcher support on the day of an arranged researcher visit

2) To invite the parent(s) of each of the three children to meet the visiting researcher in the nursery/school setting on the day of our visit to complete the short POMS sheet in order to explore positive behaviour further. This interview was based on talking with parents with them about their child's play, class and school world.

3) To invite up to 10 parents to join in with a focus group discussion on the day of the researcher visit- this could include the parents of the 3 individuals in 1 and 2 if they wished to take part as one of the 10 invitees to the discussion groups. Parental focus groups ran for a maximum of one hour.

4) To arrange for Staff Focus Groups lasting 30 minutes.

Settings were also asked to confirm the names and contact details of up to 5 professionals who support their work in their settings (eg- speech and language therapist, school doctor, home visiting teacher, ASN support worker, social worker) in order to provide some insight into the scope for multi- professional working open to them.

Additionally it has been possible to drill down into the data generated by the study as a whole, to provide a profile of each setting. Here we have drawn particularly on data from ECERS, Hutchison and Smith, Head of Centre interviews, Transitions data (in 4 of the settings), Well Being and Involvement, Staff and Parental Focus Groups and where available the current HMIE inspection background report. These data provide a backdrop to illustrating a selection of good practices in each setting. Firstly data on these dimensions is provided for the group of settings.

8.2.2 Environment Ratings in the Case Study Settings

The environment ratings has been drawn out for the case study settings and are shown in the Figure 8.1 that follows.

Figure 8.1 Average ECERS subscale scores by case study setting

Figure 8.1 Average ECERS subscale scores by case study setting

The case study settings' scores followed a similar pattern to the sample as a whole with all average scores except personal care routines and activities achieving at least a score of 5. Interaction, parental provisions and staff interaction, cooperation, evaluation and opportunities for professional growth in these settings was approaching an excellent rating. Each setting had numbers of children who had low scores on well-being and involvement.

8.2.3 Well-being and Involvement

All eight case study settings had taken part in the first phase of the project and had received training in the use of the Well-being and Involvement Scales. After a period of day-to-day practice during which settings were asked to take a particular observational focus on these two dimensions, staff completed a whole class monitoring sheet summarising the well-being and involvement of children in the class.

Well-being is defined as when children's basic needs are met, for tenderness & affection, security and clarity, social recognition, feeling competent, physical needs and to develop a strong sense of meaning in life…. through interaction. The table below shows the numbers of children whose well-being and/or involvement in the first round of the whole class monitoring approach in the case study settings was less than 3 - these children with lower scores (nearly 40% of the total sample) signal a need for action on the part of practitioners.

Table 8.3 - Numbers of children with well-being below level 3

Case Study Setting

Well-being scales completed

No of children with scores less than 3

Involvement scales completed

No of children with scores less than 3

1

31

1

31

4

2a

71

37

71

11

2b

2

1

5

5

3

16

4

17

8

4

55

2

55

3

5

41

1

41

11

6

-

-

-

-

7

29

4

24

5

8

80

13

80

22

Full figures for well-being and involvement across the study show a significant negative correlation between well-being and involvement and social difficulties scores. Children with high levels of difficulty score low on well-being and involvement (>0.01, 2 tailed).

8.2.4 Hutchison and Smith "Intervening Early" Screening Schedule

Case study settings were asked to help with the completion of the Hutchison and Smith "Intervening Early" Screening Schedule in respect of a small number of children. Twenty-five schedules were completed across 7 of the 9 case study settings. In two of the case study settings no additional measures were completed. The completion of this schedule is normally linked to intervention into young children's behaviour, and targets vulnerable children who would so benefit. In the study it was used to provide a greater depth of insight into a number of features of young children's positive behaviour. Those elements are: an emerging sense of self, self in relation to the early years setting, feelings, relationship with adults and relationships with children.

The following tables illustrate each of the aspects in 'Intervening Early'. The first table shows the number of returns for each age level.

Table 8.4 - Intervening Early - returns by age

Strata Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cumulative Percent

Strata0-2

4

16.0

16.0

16.0

2-3

4

16.0

16.0

32.0

3-4 years

9

36.0

36.0

68.0

4-5

5

20.0

20.0

88.0

5/P.1 years

3

12.0

12.0

100.0

Total

25

100.0

100.0

The subsequent tables illustrate the categories used in the schedule, showing five possible levels, from 'no concern' through to 'extreme concern'.

8.2.4(i) Emerging sense of self

There were nine instances where staff were very concerned about children's emerging sense of self, and five children (one fifth) about whom staff were extremely concerned. These concerns ranged across the items- from openness, vitality, a sense of fun and a sense of pride. Stephen, Dunlop et al (2003) write about the importance of young children's sense of pride to their overall well-being: shame being the reverse construct.

Table 8.5 - Emerging sense of self (n=25)

Open & receptive

Shows vitality & energy

Can be calm & relaxed

Enjoyment & sense of fun shown

Shows care & concern for self

Can express likes & dislikes

Pride shown in own achievement

no concern

8

12

10

16

15

16

13

some concern

11

7

7

6

5

5

7

concerned

3

5

6

1

3

1

4

very concerned

2

1

2

3

1

extreme concern

1

1

1

2

8.2.4(ii) Self in relation to the early years setting

Coping with routines and change, being able to participate and to focus on an activity both with and without adults' help, feeling good about trying something new and having a sense of belonging that helps the child to persist in the face of something that is a little too difficult (a key to learning on a Vygotskian approach), coupled with choice and being able to follow through, all contribute to a growing sense of self. This meaning making lays the foundation for future learning. In this small group of twenty-five children we find some, through to extreme concern on many of these dimensions.

Table 8.6 - Self in relation to early years setting (n=25)

Routines

Changes

Curious

Take part

Attempt new

Focus self

Focus adult

Persist

Belong

Choose

Follow through

no concern

15

13

13

11

13

15

11

9

9

16

12

some concern

7

6

8

9

4

6

8

6

9

4

8

concerned

3

6

3

4

2

3

6

5

4

4

very concerned

3

1

3

2

3

3

1

1

1

extreme concern

1

1

1

1

1

8.2.4 (iii) Feelings

The expression of feelings has always had a high profile in the curriculum framework for children 3-5, and is an essential part of early development. For each item on this scale there is a steady group about whom staff have no concerns: they are articulate, can identify well with others in real life and through storytelling, are able to express affection and have strategies for coping with strong feelings. However on each category there are between 2 and 6 children about whom staff are either very concerned or extremely concerned. This matches with the wider picture in the study and heralds the need for further staff skills in helping children relate to their own and other's feelings, despite high levels of interaction in the case study settings. Imaginative play provides such opportunities.

Table 8.7 - Feelings (n=25)

Uses words to describe feelings

Identifies with feelings of story characters

Empathizes with others in real situations

Reflects on feelings afterwards

Strategies for coping with strong feelings

Can express affection

no concern

11

12

13

13

9

18

some concern

7

5

6

4

6

5

concerned

4

4

3

3

4

very concerned

2

3

2

3

4

1

extreme concern

1

1

1

2

2

1

8.2.4 (iv) Relationships with Adults

On transition to school one of the most important skills is to be able to 'read the teacher' (Dunlop, 2002). Early years nursery settings provide young children with the opportunity to develop relationships with adults outside the family in a secure environment. A very important attribute is the capacity to follow instructions that are made to the group as a whole. Support to express needs, to initiate communication and to respond to praise are essential for the child in a group setting. Praise is one of the most used positive behaviour strategies in the study sample: most children in this sub group appear to cope and respond well to praise. Nearly half of the children accept the adults' authority but for 12 children concerns are expressed about the level of acceptance.

Table 8.8 - Relationships with adults (n=25)

Can separate from main carer

+ve relationship with at least one EY adult

Is able to express needs to adult

Is able to initiate communication with adult

Is able to respond to simple conversation

Is able to accept comfort from adult

Is able to take part without direct adult support

Is able to follow 1 to 1 instructions

Is able to follow group instructions

Accepts adult authority

+ve response to adult's praise

no concern

16

18

16

15

18

17

15

16

15

13

18

some concern

5

5

3

6

2

5

7

6

6

7

3

concerned

3

3

1

2

2

2

2

2

3

very concerned

1

2

2

1

2

3

1

1

1

1

extreme concern

1

2

1

1

1

2

8.2.4 (v) Relationships with Children

Young children learn well in the company of others. Work on transitions to school shows the importance of going to school with a friend (Ladd, 1990). Having friends, making friends, keeping friends and being liked by peers all contribute to a child's successful adjustment to new situations including school entry. Part of this process is being able to cope with conflict and knowing when to seek adult help.

In this small sample staff have some concern about children's peer relationships (Table 8.8). One aspect of this profile is being able to play with less structure. Here staff have concerns about more than half of the children. Not only does this category signal independent learning, it also highlights a dichotomy, for the more staff have concerns about how children are with less structure, the greater the possibility that more structure will be imposed, rather than supporting children to develop self-regulation through finding their own motivators and their own limits.

Table 8.9 - Relationships with other children (n=25)

Plays alongside other children

Play co-op with others when adult present

Play co-op when less structure

Initiate communication with another child

Beginning to show concern for others

Accepted by peer group

Shares

Takes turns with adult present

Takes turns without adult present

Seeks adult help to resolve conflict

no concern

13

14

11

14

11

17

12

18

13

15

some concern

9

6

8

4

9

5

7

2

6

4

concerned

2

3

4

5

4

3

4

3

4

3

very concerned

2

1

1

1

2

1

1

2

extreme concern

1

1

1

1

1

The 'intervening early approach' sits well with the Process Oriented Child Monitoring System ( POMS 2.2) which focuses on four relational fields.

8.2.5 The Process Oriented Child Monitoring System ( POMS 2.2)

In parallel parents attending the focus group discussions in the case study settings were asked to complete the Process Oriented Child Monitoring System ( POMS 2.2) (Laevers et al) to give an overall well-being score and also a score in four relational fields of well-being. These fields are: relationships with the teacher/early educator, relationships with other children, relationships within their play, class and school world, relationships with members of the family and close friends.

Table 8.10 - POMS 2.2 completed by parents - 9 boys, 9 girls

N = 18

Overall well-being

Relationships with teacher &/or Eyears practitioner

Relationships with other children

Relationships within their play, class, school world

Relationships With family members & friends

Total scores on each level

1

1

1

2

1.5

3

3

2

1

1

1

1

4

2.5

1

1

3

3

1

5

3

2

14

4

6

4

6

7

2

25

4.5

2

2

5

7

12

5

6

9

39

Total scores on each item

18

18

18

18

18

8.2.6 Overview of transitions in Case Study Settings

Overview data on transitions in four of the case study settings is shown in Figure 8.2 below. On most dimensions children were reported to either have attained the following skills or to be in a process of developing towards them.

Separate readily
Play independently
Play cooperatively
Express own feelings
Recognise others' feelings
Confident in relationships
Shows interest
Observes rules
Concentrates
Commits to tasks
Exercises self-control
Responds to instructions
Self-help (personal hygiene and eating)
Takes turns and shares

Further detail is offered in four of the case studies that follow in section 8.3.

Figure 8.2 Overview of transitions records in case study settings

Figure 8.2 Overview of transitions records in case study settings

8.2.7 Focus Groups

Staff and parental focus groups were planned for each case study setting and held in most - where this was not possible alternatives such as individual staff or parent interviews were held. Meetings started with short explanations of the project and of the concept of positive behaviour. In both staff and parental focus groups similar areas were explored using three key questions and a number of prompts which were varied depending on whether the group was a staff or parent group ( Annex 3). The key aspects were -

1. The extent and nature of behaviour difficulties among children in early years and early primary settings

2. Staff and parents' practices that are successful in supporting transitions from nursery/pre-school to primary school

3. Effective approaches to training and support that can be identified for staff in early years settings

8.3 Individual setting case studies

Data presented varies slightly from setting to setting so as to highlight particular areas of strength. Each section of the Case Studies ( CS) is identified according to the case study number, eg ' CS1.1' is the first section of Case Study 1.

8.3.1 Case Study 1 - Nursery School

This case study focuses on a free-standing nursery school which is registered to care for 32 children, aged from 3 years to Primary school entry, at any one time. The nursery school operates Monday - Friday during school term time, and also provides wraparound nursery care which gives children the opportunity to attend between 8am and 5.30pm.

The school was inspected by HMIE and the Care Commission in June 2005. Key strengths included the very good interactions between staff and children; the effective support for children with additional needs; the high quality of experiences offered to children in all key aspects of children's development and learning; and the effective management and teamwork of staff. Inspectors also commented positively on children's development of friendships and the encouragement given by staff to cooperate and be aware of the needs of others.

CS1.1 Environmental rating SCALES - ECERS

This setting scored well on the ECERS with an average score of 5.74 overall (Table 5.10). Relationships with parents were excellent as was the programme structure - this provides context to staff work with parents and other agencies.

Table 8.11- Case Study 1 - ECERS scores

Space & Furnishings

Personal Care Routines

Listening and Talking

Activities

Interaction

Program Structure

Parents & Staff

Average Score per setting

5.88

3.50

5.75

5.60

5.60

7.00

6.83

5.74

CS1.2 Process Oriented Child Monitoring System ( POMS)

Three children were identified - all scoring fours or fives on the POMS with positive relationships with adults and other children, relating well to the nursery setting and well supported by family. This links with the high levels of well-being and involvement reported by staff.

Table 8.12 - Case Study 1 - Process Oriented Child Monitoring System ( POMS)

Case Study 1

Overall WB

Rel/teacher

Other chdn

In play/sch

Family

Child 1

M

4.5

4

5

4

5

Child 2

F

5

5

5

5

5

Child 3

M

5

5

4

5

5

CS1.3 Well-being and Involvement

Of 31 (14 x 3 year olds, 17 x 4 year olds) well-being observation returns in round 1, there were two children who scored less than 3 in well-being, 25 of the children's well-being was considered to be a level 4 or 5. In terms of the 30 involvement returns, there were 3 who scored below 3 on involvement, and 25 scored at level 4 or 5. In the second round of well-being (n=27) all scores were 3 or above, with 21 children being at levels 4 and 5. 1n this round (n=24) 1 scored less than 3 on involvement, with some movement in scores so that 6 children had lower scores in the second round, but 4 had improved scores, with 17 at levels 4 and 5.

CS1.4 Staff Focus Group

Seven staff members were present, including the Head Teacher and 2 students. They have 35 children at the nursery school of whom only 6 are girls. Almost half of the children has English as a second language. 7 out of the 15 staff at this school are permanent.

CS1.5 Nature and Extent of Behaviour Difficulties

Staff felt that generally behaviour of children in their setting did not cause them concern and was good. However, a small number of boys show aggressive behaviour and hard physical play which can be a worry for staff. This behaviour seems to be fuelled by television programmes.

Acceptable behaviour in nursery ties in with the Golden Rules of sharing, being kind, walking rather than running, and cooperating. Setting boundaries and being consistent amongst staff are deemed to be useful strategies. In addition, a badge system has been used to promote positive behaviour.

Most children have high to very high levels of well-being and involvement.

CS1.6 Strategies

Staff advised to have adapted their programme for the high number of boys in their setting to include more physical activities.

CS1.6 Transition

At transition time, some children can get quite bombastic or anxious. Strategies that staff use for dealing with this change include visits to Primary School and talking about the move. There is ongoing liaison with the main feeder Primary School. Staff indicated they would find it useful to get to know more about P1 practice.

CS1.7 Multi-Agency Working

An Educational Psychologist visits the setting every 4 weeks and there are links with 6 Health Visitors and EASL support. Home visits get done if deemed appropriate by Sure Start staff (for 0-3 children).

CS1 - Summary

This setting provides extended provision to children, and a positive ethos which fosters warm relationships, and promotes consistency amongst staff who work together to develop tailored and responsive approaches to the children and their families.

Case Study 2 - Primary and Nursery Class with Associated Family Centre

An up-to-date HMIE inspection report was not available for either setting.

CS2.1 Environmental rating SCALES - ECERS

Scores based on the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale show changes between the nursery class environment and the Primary 1. Increasingly there is a focus on having the new setting recognisable for new entrants, and building proactively on their prior experiences. In this case study space and furnishings, listening and talking, activities offered and programme structure were all more favourable in nursery, whereas personal care routines and interaction were more highly rated in Primary 1. This provides context for the results that follow.

Table 8.13 Case Study 2 - ECERS

Setting

Space & Furnishings

Personal Care Routines

Listening and Talking

Activities

Interaction

Program Structure

Parents & Staff

Average Score per setting

2 N/c

4.88

3.75

4.50

3.70

5.25

6.75

6.33

5.02

2 (P1)

3.75

4.75

4.00

2.60

6.25

3.67

6.00

4.43

CS2.2 Process Oriented Child Monitoring System ( POMS)

Scores on the POMS for the 5 children on which these were undertaken suggest very positive well-being and relationships with adults and peers within the nursery and school settings. For 4 of the children the picture changes and is less positive when within-family relationships are considered. For these sample children school may provide the greater stability.

Table 8.14 - Case Study 2 - POMS

Case Study 2

Overall WB

Rel/teacher

Other chdn

In play/sch

family

Child 1

F

4

5

4

4

1.5

Child 2

M

4

5

5

2

2

Child 3

M

5

5

4

5

1.5

Child 4

M

4

5

3

4

1.5

Child 5

F

4

5

3

4

3

CS2.3 Well-being and Involvement

Of 71 well-being and involvement nursery and primary observation returns in Round 1, there were 24 children who were scored 2.5 and below in well-being, and 12 who scored 2.5 or less in involvement, with another 24 who scored 3 on involvement. Overall in the first round of well-being which included 37 Primary 1 children, 19 x 4 year olds and 15 x 3 year olds the staff reported 47 children with scores of 3 or above, of whom 30 were reported to be at levels 4 and 5 (only one 4 year old had a well-being score under 3). In the second round (n=68) 24 children had well-being scores of 2.5 or below, and 34 with 3 or above, of whom 25 are at level 4 and 5. In terms of involvement 21 were scoring less than 3 in involvement, with a further 18 scoring 3.

28 children were reported with levels 4 and 5 in involvement, giving a total of 46 with scores of 3 and above.

In this setting patterns of well-being and involvement fluctuate over time - this links informally with the intervention work going on in this setting, which seems to be working to sustain well-being without necessarily being able to improve it for these very vulnerable children consistently over time.

CS2.4 Background

This new build school features in Curriculum for Excellence exemplars, it is in an area of high deprivation and a significant number of children and families living there regularly face extremely challenging circumstances where they are vulnerable in many ways. They are unique in the fact that they offer 43 full-time nursery places. The Head Teacher commented on the challenging behaviour, particularly in the earliest years (nursery). The school is a pioneer in the field of Emotional Literacy. This project addresses the considerable need in the community for child and family support services which are accessible, available locally and linked to services such as pre school education. Through Family Centre partnership with the Primary School, this project ensures that children and families experience a high quality of service, which is responsive to their needs. Facilities include 11 Primary classes, two at P1, a Nurture Class Teacher and a Family Support Teacher, a Breakfast Club, and a number of visiting teachers. The school houses a quiet room: a room that has no natural light and lots of multi sensory equipment. There are bubble tubes, projectors, mirrors, cushions, special lighting, glowing floor mats, aromatherapy oils and fibreoptics. In addition there are relaxation CDs, rainsticks and circle-time props to be used.

Across the school, a number of activities are aimed at engaging pupils and their holistic/social-emotional development. Initiatives include a quiet room with soft lighting, relaxing music and soft furnishings where children can get some privacy; a drop-in counselling service offers creative and play therapy to children; a Feelings Book in which children note down their feelings which get discussed (anonymously) at assemblies; a Calm Down period daily after lunch where soft relaxing music, chosen by pupils themselves, gets played throughout the school.

The school has many links with parents. They have a Family Support Teacher who works closely with parents and she arranges social events, courses and workshops on different topics. There is also a 'Going to School Project', which facilitates the transition stage for both children and parents.

CS2.5 Emotional Literacy

Emotional Literacy is all about sense of self, sense of belonging and sense of personal power.

"The best indicator of success at age 30 is … self-esteem at age 10" (Leon Fernstein cited by Head of Service- Presentation held by HT for Parents). Here is how a 7 year old might say it…

I know what I feel
I can say what I feel
I am learning how to handle my feelings
I know how they feel
I can say how they feel
I am learning how to handle their feelings

(Emotional Literacy Scotland - Feelings - Parent/Carer Guide)

The Case Study 2 Primary's teaching staff has been trained to provide the curriculum according to the principles of emotional literacy, and nursery staff and teachers plan and offer activities accordingly.

The emotional literacy curriculum consists of 8 themes from P1 through to P7, although a number of matched activities are also offered in nursery. Themes are as follows:

- Fresh Start
- Getting On & Falling Out
- Reaching Goals
- I Wonder
- Changes
- Feelings
- Anti-Bullying
- Equality

Parents are informed about emotional literacy and the school has developed a Parent/Carer guide to explain more about emotional literacy and what the children will be learning at different age stages. Ideas are offered for 'Family Homework activities', e.g. the Feeling Wheel were parents are encouraged to talk with their child about feelings they have felt at some point ( e.g. sad, angry, scared, joyful, powerful, peaceful).

CS2.6 Parallels with Well-being Scale used in PBP.

The parallels of emotional literacy approaches with Laevers' Well-being Scale are clear. The level of well-being in children indicates how they are developing emotionally and a number of characteristics ('signs') in children's behaviour can be used as a guideline to assess levels of well-being. Example signs are self-confidence, being able to defend oneself or assertiveness. Another characteristic of well-being is that children are in touch with their inner selves: with their own needs, wishes, feelings and thoughts. They seem to know for themselves what they need, wish, feel and think and can work through these feelings, even if (temporarily) unpleasant (Laevers et al - A process-oriented child monitoring system for young children).

Table 8.15 - Case Study 2- Well-being Scores (averages)

Overall Sample

Case Study 2

All ages

6.96

6.53

3-4

6.39

4.53

4-5

7.26

6.63

P1

7.11

7.30

Key- 1 = Low well-being, 10 = High well-being (=5)

Scores on the well-being scale illustrate that overall teaching staff in Case Study 2 do not perceive their children to have higher levels of well-being in comparison with other teachers in the sample. However, the EL curriculum starts formally in P1 and the children are perceived to have a slightly higher level of well-being in comparison with other schools. The lower scores may also be linked to the area in which Case Study 2 School is located; with a Social Deprivation Index of 57.65, this setting is in the lowest social deprivation decile group and there are only 3 areas in the Positive Behaviour Project sample that have a higher SDI. (Scottish Deprivation Deciles from www.sns.gov.uk - 2004 / Scottish Deprivation Indices from Data Zone & Intermediate Geography Disc - Scottish Executive Statistics - 2006, Annex 4).

CS2.7 Parallels with Screening Schedule used in the Positive Behaviour Project

Emotional literacy is all about sense of self, sense of belonging and sense of personal power. The Screening Schedule instrument (Hutchinson & Smith) used in the case-study phase looks at a range of behaviours in the areas of feelings, emotions and relationships the child has with adults and other children; topics explored are sense of self, feelings and relationships. Not all research activities, including completing the Screening Schedule for a small number of children, were able to be conducted in this setting.

CS2.8 Parental Focus Group- Extent and Nature of Behaviour Difficulties & Parenting Hassles

5 mothers were available at the focus group discussion. Most mothers had 3, 4 or 5 children; one mother had one child. Children were between 1 and 11 years of age. The mothers felt that other people's judgements and attitudes are the most hard to deal with, e.g. the looks or comments from other people when their children are playing up or having a tantrum in public. They feel that in situations like these other people are judging their competence as a parent. Behaviours that are difficult to deal with that were mentioned include whining, bossiness and sibling rivalry. Parents reported finding it difficult to forget the challenging behaviour and change their attitude when they are still feeling angry but the child has calmed down. One parent mentioned how her eldest child takes a responsible role which she finds difficult to cope with as a single parent. Another mother mentioned she finds it hard to 'read' the child and understand his/her signs. Grandparents were said to spoil the children which undermines the parent's approach. Parents said the best thing about being a mother was the unconditional love, proud feelings and cuddles.

CS2.9 - Parental Strategies

Parents reported a variety of strategies, including some adopted as a result of professional support:

  • For dealing with other people's judgement in public, one mum mentioned how she uses cards provided by Social Services to explain to people why her autistic child is behaving as he is.
  • Ignoring tantrums
  • Withdrawal of treats and sweets
  • Threaten and follow through; consistent!
  • Majority do not smack
  • Reward system of chance cards and treasury bags; strategy used at school and now used by mums

CS2.10 Support

Mothers reported a number of supports available to them. Help was more likely to be offered by professionals whose specific role focused on parental support. Help was more likely to be accepted from other mothers. Some mothers found it hard to trust professionals.

  • School; mothers said to find the strategies used by nursery and school to be helpful. The class teacher will listen but does not really give advice - the Family Support Teacher is most supportive. An emotional literacy course run by school has helped them to deal with children's challenging behaviour and promote positive behaviour; and they have also learnt to use a reward system that the school uses.
  • Health visitors were deemed supportive by part of the group.
  • Friends
  • Family; but this is not the case for all mums as they do not have close relationship or do not agree with the way they were brought up.
  • Other mums; they understand and do not judge. It is deemed helpful to bounce ideas of one another.
  • Leaflets from GP; too many phone numbers and information but no concrete help/support.
  • Mothers said they would rather go to someone they trust rather than a professional, though some were observed to have apparently close relationships with named professionals.

CS2.11 Multi-Agency Work

Mothers feel that there is lack of communication and miscommunication between nursery, school and other agencies; one mum spoke of her child being referred to an Educational Psychologist by the school, however the psychologist thought concerns originated with the mother. Parents reported they 'have to do the chasing'. Agencies and their professionals were perceived as judgemental of parents' practice and parents do not feel taken seriously.

CS2 - Summary

This setting and its associated Family Centre had recognised the pivotal role that their services play for children and families in the area.For the research team there was ample evidence of policy and practices being developed and implemented to foster self worth and positive behaviours, in a climate of positive leadership.The complexity of family circumstances and the vulnerability of children was evident. Parents expressed some ambivalence towards services, and highlighted the importance of trust and respect as part of their capacity to accept advice and to feel accepted.

Case Study 3 - Child and Family Centre

This Child and Family Centre was last inspected by HMIE as part of an integrated inspection with the Care Commission in January 2004. Key strengths were judged to be the very good arrangements in place to support children and families; the very good programmes for emotional, personal and social development, knowledge and understanding of the world and physical development and movement; and the commitment and enthusiasm of the whole staff team. The inspection report also commented on the very good use staff made of praise to build children's self-esteem and acknowledge achievement.

CS3.1 ECERS

This setting was particularly strong on listening and talking, interaction and programme structure. The only lower score was in terms of personal care routines. Strengths matched well to the integrated inspection report.

Table 8.16 Case Study 3 - ECERS

Setting

Space & Furnishings

Personal Care Routines

Listening and Talking

Activities

Interaction

Program Structure

Parents & Staff

Average Score per setting

3 (0-3)

6.20

3.60

6.67

5.33

6.75

7.00

6.14

5.96

CS3.2 Hutchison and Smith - Teachers

Three returns were completed on the Hutchison and Smith profile. Some concerns were reported by staff for the three children involved. As the focus is on younger children, and numbers are small, the results here only serve to show differences amongst children. The older child causes no concern at all whereas the 2 younger children do.

Table 8.17 All dimensions of emerging sense of self on Teacher H&S Case Study 3 (n=3)

Dimension

Level

0-2

2-3

3-4 years

4-5

5/P.1 years

Total

Shows care and concern for self

some concern

2

1

3

totals

2

1

3

Vitality and energy

no concern

1

1

some concern

1

1

concerned

1

1

totals

2

1

3

Is able to be calm and relaxed at times

no concern

1

1

some concern

1

1

concerned

1

1

totals

2

1

3

Displays enjoyment and sense of fun

no concern

1

1

some concern

2

2

totals

2

1

3

Shows care and concern for self

no concern

1

1

some concern

1

1

concerned

1

1

totals

2

1

3

Can express likes and dislikes

no concern

2

2

some concern

1

1

totals

2

1

3

Demonstrates a sense of pride in own achievement

no concern

1

1

some concern

2

2

totals

2

1

3

CS3. 3 Well-being and Involvement

There were 8 of the 15 children scoring under 3 on well-being, and 8 of 17 children were scoring low on involvement in the first round observations. 8 returns were received in the second round, and of these only one was observed to have a lower score on involvement, 4 a higher score, and 3 remained at the same score.

CS3.4 Staff Focus group - Extent and Nature of Behaviour Difficulties (n=6)

Generally speaking, staff felt that children's behaviour is fine at nursery. However, they know from working closely with parents that this not always the case at home. According to staff, reasons for this misbehaviour at home are lack of efficient parenting skills; parents have no consistency or routines. They feel that children's behaviour can be fine, however it is more the parents that need support. The centre has run and still runs a number of behavioural management and parenting courses ( e.g. 'Mellow Parenting') but feels that it is difficult to get parents committed to attend these sessions. Similarly, it is hard to get parents to follow through strategies and approaches learnt consistently.

CS3.5 Strategies

Staff develop a plan with parents depending on their individual needs. They stressed it to be important to gain parents' trust and build up a relationship.

CS3.6 Transition

Strategies used at time of transition into nursery/school/special school include:
- transition records
- meetings with nursery staff if necessary
- visits

CS3.7 Multi-Agency Work

The centre works closely together with other agencies like Health Visitors, Physiotherapy, Social Work, Occupational Therapy, Children1st, Educational Psychologist; this includes occasional case conferences. They feel other agencies are helpful and they can contact external professionals for advice.

Prior to a child starting the nursery, a care plan is established and certain cases are given weighting in terms of keyworker: child load. There is a big emphasis on multi-agency working. Regular inter-agency meetings take place with colleagues from key agencies working in the community, as well as multi-agency meetings regarding individual children. Staff work in collaboration with local schools and early years centres to meet family needs. Work with parents is facilitated by senior staff and a parents' group worker. Individual keyworkers also work closely with parents, giving support and advising on appropriate agencies. There is a parents room where parents can relax, seek information or advice, meet other professionals, update skills or even have access visits with their children.

CS3.8 Support

Staff feel speaking to their Senior is helpful. Being part of a team is also a big support.

CS3 - Summary

This centre works with vulnerable children and their families. It provides a high quality environment which brings a particular focus to interaction and relationships with children and families. There was evidence of good leadership, and staff recognise the complexity of their work and the importance of working collaboratively across disciplines. The greatest challenge for staff is involving parents who are hard to engage.

Case Study 4 - Private Partner Provider

This nursery was inspected by HMIE and the Care Commission in August 2005. Key strengths were judged to be the committed and dedicated staff team; very positive relationships amongst staff, children and parents; very good support for children and their families; and, very good use of the local environment to support children's learning. The report also commented positively on staff interactions with children and their use of praise and encouragement in developing children's self-esteem and confidence.

CS4.1 - ECERS

Observation in this setting showed excellent interaction in terms of supervision of children, approaches to behaviour, staff-child interactions and interactions among children. The environment, room arrangement and display were at a very high level, with a good focus also being given to provision for listening and talking.

Table 8.18 - Case Study 4- ECERS

Space & Furnishings

Personal Care Routines

Listening and Talking

Activities

Interaction

Program Structure

Parents & Staff

Average Score per setting

6.75

4.60

6.00

5.00

7.00

5.00

5.12

5.64

CS4.2 POMS

Only two children were included in the POMS - both showed high scores on all aspects of relating explored by the scale. Given the high overall levels of well-being and involvement evidenced in this setting, to have included any other child who met the selection criteria of low levels of low levels of well-being and involvement would have been inappropriate.

Table 8.19 - Case Study 4- POMS

Case Study 1

Overall WB

Rel/teacher

Other chdn

In play/sch

Family

Child 1

F

5

5

4

5

4

Child 2

F

5

5

4

5

5

CS4.3 Well-being and Involvement

Of 55 well-being and 54 involvement nursery observation returns in the first round, there were only 2 children who were scored less than 3 in well-being and 3 who scored low on involvement. Otherwise all other scores (35) in the first round of well-being are at 3 or 4. For involvement first round scores include 41 returns at levels 4 and 5.

In the second round of well-being observations 53 returns were received, with 37 of these being at levels 4 or 5. The child previously rated at '1' was considered to now be a '2'. The scores for the three year olds have fluctuated more than those of the four and five year olds. For involvement 54 returns were undertaken, 35 of which were at levels 4 and 5, and only one child remains with a low score of '2'.

CS4.4 Hutchison and Smith Schedule

Data drawn from the Hutchison and Smith schedules in this setting showed, amongst 7 children, only one aspect of behaviour in one child that was causing concern. This is consistent with the overall high quality of environment shown in the centre's ECERS scores, and the good levels of well-being and involvement of the majority of children.

Table 8.20 All dimensions of emerging sense of self on Teacher H&S Case Study 4 (n=6)

Dimension

Level

0-2

2-3

3-4 years

4-5

5/P.1 years

Total

Shows care and concern for self

No concern

1

1

some concern

1

1

concerned

1

1

totals

1

2

3

Vitality and energy

no concern

1

1

2

concerned

1

1

totals

1

2

3

Is able to be calm and relaxed at times

no concern

1

1

2

concerned

1

1

totals

1

2

3

Displays enjoyment and sense of fun

no concern

1

1

2

4

some concern

1

1

2

totals

2

1

3

6

Shows care and concern for self

no concern

1

1

2

concerned

1

1

totals

1

2

3

Can express likes and dislikes

no concern

1

1

2

very concerned

1

1

totals

1

2

3

Demonstrates a sense of pride in own achievement

no concern

1

1

2

concerned

1

1

totals

1

2

3

CS4.5 Parental Focus Group

3 parents were available. All were mothers with the 3 children ranging from 4 months to 9 years.

CS4.6 Extent and Nature of Behaviour Difficulties

The mothers indicated that they felt tantrums and children's behaviour in public can be hard to cope with, however generally their children behave as they expect them to and they just deal with it.

CS4.7 Strategies

Main strategies used are explaining, talking to children (a lot!!) and explaining how their behaviour makes other people feel. All mums talked about the importance of involving their children in activities ( e.g. food) and giving them responsibility in certain aspects of decision making.

CS4.8 Children's behaviour in different situations

They thought their children behaved better at nursery than with them or grandparents due to them trying to push boundaries at home.

CS4.9 Support

The mothers indicated that they look for support from friends with older children, family and people from the church they attended. They mentioned talking through worries with other parents is most helpful.

The nursery staff were seen as most supportive and genuinely caring about the children. It was said that staff help to promote positive behaviour in children by role-modelling and praising, however the mothers stressed it was their responsibility as a parent to promote positive behaviour and staff are there to support rather than solve issues.

Although nursery staff are easily approachable, the mothers felt that they would like more opportunities to speak to Primary school staff as they felt approaching them is not easily possible. They expressed their wish for Primary teachers to have more time for speaking to parents and to focus on 'average' children rather than the challenging/gifted ones.

CS4.10 Staff Focus Group - Extent and Nature of Behaviour Difficulties

4 staff members were present including the Head of Centre. Generally staff have no concerns about children's behaviour. Most children have high to very high levels of well-being and involvement and two particular children do show worrying behaviour however- one being aggressive and the other being withdrawn and non-communicative. In general children have high levels of well-being and involvement. Support for staff is available from the committee/chair of the committee but all staff feel confident in dealing with children's behaviour. Staff have not had specific training on positive behaviour or dealing with challenging behaviour; all felt confident anyway due to qualifications and experience.

CS4.11 Strategies

Meeting with parents and communicating worries they have is seen as useful in dealing with concerning behaviour. Other strategies include positive reinforcement and speaking to children in a soft voice. Parent liaison includes 2 parent evenings, informal contact and newsletters.

CS4.12 Transition

When starting nursery, strategies include visits, open days and staggered starts. Staff reported that transition into nursery for most children is a smooth process. Strategies used at P1 transition phase are visits and a buddy system where P6 pupils visit nursery children. Recently Primary staff had started providing feedback on children's progress throughout the year and had begun a new initiative of P1 teacher visits to the nursery. Children, in particular boys that are due to move to P1 can be boisterous- staff hope the P6 buddy system will help in this respect.

CS4.13 Multi-Agency Work

The nursery has contact with an assigned Educational Psychologist, but there were no links with Social Work or Speech and Language Therapy. It was hoped to establish links with the health visitor in the near future, this was not happening yet. Staff mentioned one boy with Down's Syndrome who needed help from different agencies for whom support was arranged outwith the nursery setting.

CS4 - Summary

This partner provider works positively with children and families and is attentive to all children. Levels of well-being and involvement were generally high and staff skills in interaction seem to support those whose behaviour needed some support. Staff confidence was good, however access to other services was more limited than they would have liked. The developing contacts with primary school were welcomed.

Case Study 5 - Primary School and Nursery Class

An Integrated Inspection by the Care Commission and HM Inspectorate of Education was carried out on 12 May 2004. The key strengths were seen a bright, welcoming and attractive playrooms with a good range and quality of resources to support children's learning and development and very good programmes in knowledge and understanding of the world and expressive and aesthetic development. The programme for emotional, personal and social development was good. Staff needed to review the implementation of the positive behaviour policy

CS5.1 - Case Study 5 - ECERS

The average ECERS scores for both nursery and Primary 1 in this setting were very close, suggesting that on most dimensions there is a good connection for children between their pre-school experience and their experience in Primary 1. The nursery was more focused on personal care routines in keeping with the age of the children, had slightly higher scores on listening and talking, activities and interaction, whereas the Primary 1 had a more structured programme and the primary teachers felt well supported by other teachers working at the same stage as well as the head teacher.

Table 8.21 - Case Study 5 - ECERS

Setting

Space & Furnishings

Personal Care Routines

Listening and Talking

Activities

Interaction

Program Structure

Parents & Staff

Average Score Per setting

5 (3-5)

6.23

6.10

6.38

5.57

6.20

4.84

5.75

5.87

5 (P1)

5.54

4.84

6.26

4.78

5.85

6.00

7.00

5.75

CS5.2 - Case Study 5 - POMS

Eight parents joined the parent focus group and a further parent came to a second session. Five boys and three girls were represented. Overall well-being was average or above. Nearly all parents felt their children related well to staff, but views on relating to other children were more mixed in several cases. Completion of the questionnaire raised an interesting group discussion.

Table 8.22 - Case Study 5 - POMS- completed by parents

Case Study 5

Overall WB

Rel/teacher

Other chdn

In play/sch

family

Child 1

M

5

5

4

4

4

Child 2

M

4

5

3

3

5

Child 3

M

3

2

1

1

2.5

Child 4

M

3

3

3

3

3

Child 5

F

3

4

2

3

5

Child 6

F

5

5

5

5

5

Child 7

F

4

4

3

4

5

Child 8

M

4.5

4

5

4

5

8

CS5.3- Well-being and Involvement

Of 80 well-being and involvement nursery and primary observation returns there 13 children who were scored less than 3 in well-being, and 24 who scored less then 3 on involvement. Of these 4 were in Primary 1 and 3 were 4 year olds the rest (17) were 3 year old children.

Overall there were 79 well-being returns in Round 1 and 76 in Round 2. 16 children were at levels 2.5 and lower whilst 36 children were at levels 4 and 5. In the second round of 76 returns only 3 children were rated as being below 2.5, with 73 being at levels 3 or higher, and 48 scored at levels 4 and 5. (36 x P.1, 10 x 4years old, 41 x 3 year olds). By the time of the second round, 16 of this group had improved scores and one remained the same.

Taking a closer look at well-being returns, in round 1, 13 three year olds scored 2.5 or lower, 11 three year olds scored 4 or above, by the time of the second round only 2 three year olds remained with scores under 2.5, 3 three year olds were causing a developmental concern and of these one was recorded with a level 2, one a level 3 and the third a level 4 in well-being, and 26 three year olds scored 4 and 5. With the 10 four year olds, in the first round 3 had low scores, but by the second round all were level 3 or above. The Primary 1 pupils all achieved scores of 3 or above, none dropped under three in the second round, and 3 children who were causing developmental concern in round 1 achieved affirmative remarks on progress in round 2

In the involvement observations, in round 1, 80 returns were made. Of these 24 children were scoring 2.5 or less, with 56 scoring 3 and above, and 35 at levels 4 and 5. In round 2 only 8 children remained with low scores, 42 were at level 4 to 5 and a group of 30 were scoring 3 to 3.5. This upward shift in scores suggests that younger children once settled in nursery begin to both feel better about themselves, and become more engaged in their learning, and that this pattern continues on into primary school.

CS5.4 - Hutchison and Smith Schedule

Staff completed the Hutchison and Smith schedule in respect of 6 children (3 x nursery, 3 x primary). There were children causing concern in each category. Staff were aware of the individuality of children and the importance of working proactively with those children about whom they had some concerns. What is clear from the different settings is that children who do cause concern are spread across both age groups and dimensions of enquiry. In terms of positive behaviour an individualised approach is needed to match whole school policy.

Table 8.23 All dimensions of emerging sense of self on Teacher H&S Case Study 5 (n=6)

Dimension

Level

0-2

2-3

3-4 years

4-5

5/P.1 years

Total

Shows care and concern for self

no concern

1

1

some concern

1

2

3

concerned

1

1

very concerned

1

1

totals

2

1

3

6

Vitality and energy

no concern

1

1

2

some concern

2

1

3

concerned

1

1

totals

2

1

3

6

Is able to be calm and relaxed at times

no concern

1

1

2

some concern

1

1

2

concerned

1

1

extreme concern

1

1

totals

2

1

3

6

Displays enjoyment and sense of fun

no concern

1

1

2

4

some concern

1

1

2

totals

2

1

3

6

Shows care and concern for self

no concern

1

2

3

some concern

1

1

2

very concerned

1

1

totals

2

1

3

6

Can express likes and dislikes

no concern

1

1

2

some concern

1

2

3

very concerned

1

1

totals

2

1

3

6

Demonstrates a sense of pride in own achievement

no concern

1

2

3

some concern

1

1

2

very concerned

1

1

totals

2

1

3

6

CS5.4 Transitions (n=26) (Nursery Class) (20% = 5)

Children's transition records in this setting were considered in further detail in order to draw out the kind of information available to parents and receiving Primary 1 staff at transition.

Table 8.24 Overview of transition records data - Case Study Setting 5

5 children were perceived to be skilled in all categories of Emotional, Personal and Social development

19 children were perceived to have a mix of developing and skilled categories

1 child was perceived to have some skills in the emerging category

1 child was perceived not to have attained emerging skills in the majority of categories

More than 80% of children were likely to be viewed as 'skilled' in the following 6 categories:

  • Separates readily (80%)
  • Plays independently (80%)
  • Plays cooperatively ( 96%)
  • Recognises others' feelings (73%)
  • Observes rules (84%)
  • Takes turns and shares resources (80%)

More than 50% of children were perceived to be in the developing category in

  • Confident in relationships (57%)

More than 20% of children were perceived to be in the developing category in these aspects

  • Expresses own feelings (26%)
  • Shows interest (42%)
  • Seeks help (30%)
  • Concentrates (42%)
  • Commits to task (34%)
  • Exercises self-control (30%)
  • Responds to instructions (46%)

One child was perceived to have emerging skills in Confidence in Relationships and Seeking Help.

One child had obviously experienced difficulties as s/he was perceived not to have attained the emerging category in a large number of categories:

  • Plays independently
  • Expresses own feelings
  • Recognises others feelings
  • Confident in relationships
  • Seeks help
  • Observes rules
  • Concentrates
  • Commits to task
  • Exercises self-control
  • Responds to instructions
  • Takes turns and share

and was perceived as having emerging skills in Playing Cooperatively and Showing Interest.

Staff Commentary was generally positive and focussed largely on similar categories to other case study settings, eg positive relationships and confidence. Staff also commented on aspects like 'well-behaved' and 'follows/remembers rules'. This was modified for a few children to 'usually responds to instructions' and 'beginning to understand the need for rules'. The child who was noted as not having attained emerging skills was perceived 'to have improved but can still find it difficult to move from activity to activity on instruction, following rules can be difficult and s/he can become very upset'.

There were no comments from 9 of the 26 parents with it being recorded as 'parent did not attend' (One assumes that reports were distributed at a parents meeting). Of those who commented, parents again focussed on progress, confidence and being 'ready to start school'. One parent commented that s/he would have liked their child's social skills to have developed a little better. This was not a child that staff perceived to have only emerging skills.

CS5.5 Parent Focus Group

Extent and Nature of Behaviour Difficulties

This was a wide ranging discussion. All were keen to talk - the young mother with only one child took time to be drawn in, but then contributed fully. Sometimes young children's behaviour can be extreme. They are often testing out how far they can go. When young they can't always tell you what the problem is- for example one wee boy was mentioned who had reflux problems because of poor muscle control but couldn't tell his mum, later she reflected that some of his behaviour must have been to do with this problem. Bringing up children is a 24 hour job (nursery parent). It can be exhausting - it is hard work. It is particularly demanding if you are a sole parent, or at the times of day you are on your own.

Parenting Hassles

As a group the participants discussed the way children see adults as being different in this generation. Different lifestyles, what they are eating, knowing the limits, were all topics during the first part of the discussion.

  • The children in a family can all be different - "sometimes behaviour is down to personality". One child was reported as taking her mother to the limit every time - not to punish you, not nasty, but for some reason always testing. This child was reported to argue about everything, it is the child's nature to make trouble.
  • Parents reported children not being prepared to help at all at home, but being interested to do so when visiting, or at nursery.
  • Children are more likely to take out their frustrations at home.

Strategies

Parents were resourceful in the range of strategies they talked about. They talked about loving their children, finding themselves exhausted, enjoying their partner's support

  • Parents agreed when one said "It's all about understanding that you have to expect the unexpected".
  • One parent said that as a parent your love is unconditional- at all stages children need to know that there have to be boundaries, but they are still loved. The grandmother agreed here.
  • Stepping back from children's behaviour is important- knowing when you've had enough- several agreed they reach this point in the evening and then its great to be able to hand over to your partner.
  • Lie with children till they get to sleep in their own bed.
  • Important to remember that they get their sense of self-worth from how their parents react.
  • Making things a game works- "race you".
  • Important to be consistent.
  • Agreement that women mother their boys differently than their girls. However they felt they nagged the boys a lot- it was seen to be a "boy thing" to not be organised.
  • Several reported "mothering your first for longer".
  • Used a "naughty step".
  • Grounding.
  • Staying calm on the outside at all times - often children are testing you.
  • A girl thing not to respect your stuff - putting things away together helps.
  • Reading to them is good- trying this as a new phase.
  • Sanctions aren't always enough- they're not text book babies.
  • Having a quiet room at home- without television- going to your room isn't a punishment if you have your own TV and DVD player.
  • Not letting wee ones play beyond the gate.

Support

Two mothers had teenage daughters who they found to be a great help. They thought it was good for teenagers to help in this way and to be realistic about what it's like to have small children - "hopefully it will put her off for a good while".

The neighbouring primary school's Primary Parents' Support Group was open to parents from this case study setting- several had gone (nursery and primary) and had found this helpful. They reported being able to bounce off ideas. The group promoted positive behaviour and well-being in children.

Transition

  • Transition to school can be quite a struggle - the P1 parent felt the school had been very supportive.
  • The nursery was seen to be all fun - this is a big contrast with the school environment.
  • Some parents were expecting tears at the gate.
  • Some parents expressed being unready themselves for their child's school start.
  • Parents talked about transitions as parents- those with older children reported that they felt they were totally different as parents with their younger children- more assertive, more confident

Multi-Agency Work

"The local culture has changed. Society has changed." This was a strong theme in the discussion.

  • Parents reported being worried about the knife culture, about the volume of traffic (one mother was campaigning for "Twenty's Plenty" in her street).
  • Educational psychologist was reported to be helpful and supportive.
  • Local college provides classes for parents.
  • The school is very approachable- and none of the parents would have any qualms in approaching the school for help (Nursery and Primary). Bullying, children being unhappy, a teacher who's not good with the children - parents cited these examples as things they had brought up with the school.

CS5.6 Staff Focus Group

Participants

The Head Teacher, Nursery Teacher, P1 Teacher & 2 Nursery Staff took part in this discussion, which lasted 45 minutes over lunch time.

Extent and Nature of Behaviour Difficulties

The nursery staff reported a particularly difficult time with children's behaviour - "their behaviour is outrageous at the moment". Whilst there are more girls than boys, the boys' behaviour is the worst. The afternoon children's behaviour was also reported to be worse then the morning children's. The reasons given for this included that perhaps anyway the morning children's families had more "get up and go". Parents may make specific requests for afternoon attendance - can be because there is a new baby and the mother would rather have an afternoon place, but staff perception was that more often afternoon registration is indicative of families who don't get organised to enrol for morning and wouldn't make it for a morning place anyway. Staff felt you could lose sight of the personality of the child because of the behaviour.

A recent nursery outing to a city museum and art gallery had proved very successful with the morning children who were absorbed and involved and found the leaving time too soon. The afternoon children on the other hand were finished with everything in 5 minutes flat.

Views about Parents & Families

Staff felt they were up against behaviour that parents find acceptable that they do not, that parents show little consistency in managing their children's behaviour, often talk about the child and tell staff about poor behaviour with the child listening. Some children attend another group in the morning - most afternoon children come in tired.

The head teacher talked about the overall picture of the area and about behaviour at whole school level- she said the children can be marvellous, but there are serious social deprivation issues in their area, including substance abuse. Many parents were not able to take responsibility for their children's behaviour and some parents sought explanations in terms of deficits in the child, rather than necessarily making a link to action they might be able to undertake themselves. This linked strongly to the views about the local area changing that were expressed by the parents attending the parental focus group. The school promotes a certain kind of behaviour which allows children and adults to control behaviour in context, but that outside school the same children may be out of control. Staff observed visiting parents ignoring their children's inappropriate behaviour in school, and attribute this to parents having low self-esteem. In school this staff group felt they have gone as far as they can go with children's behaviour, but recognised that whilst there are mothers that try their best, parents need considerable support to develop a more appropriate set of strategies to manage their children's behaviour.

Strategies

Staff aim to establish boundaries, order and consistency. They constantly reward good behaviour. They would like to instil pride and shame in behaviour. In primary 1 the class teacher (who was in her probationary year) felt that their approach is "to move the boundaries" - to create different and higher expectations than children have experienced to date. Nursery staff reported using distraction techniques, and to be still doing so even as school approaches - a stage beyond what they would normally expect. Staff would always approach parents about their children's behaviour, and provide children with distractions, with a quiet time, and work together to support them. Story times are helpful - calm times - during the week of the focus group staff had also used video. Overall they feel children do make progress.

A common approach taken by staff is to speak with the child, to try to find out what is causing the behaviour, and to explain what is unacceptable and why. They are trying to develop an understanding of cause and effect - children need help and experiences which allow them to appreciate the benefits of good behaviour and have something to aspire to. This would support children to value and work towards achieving that opportunity.

Support

An educational psychologist had done excellent work running a parenting programme - this worked well and the staff view was that it was more effective than the work that could be done through 'home-link'. Nursery staff felt they really had to come up with solutions themselves.

Transition

It was the perception of staff that many children were not ready for school. Pre-school staff collaborated with primary at transition time. Parents' meetings were held before transition.

Multi-Agency Work

A home-link worker and an educational psychologist were the two main sources of support. It was generally felt that this side of the work was out of reach of nursery classes - the family centres were more able to take this forward. The co-operation between pre-school and school was good.

Staff training

Training opportunities are 'a wee boost' - often supporting the practice staff had already been following - but "it's a wee boost".

CS5 - Summary

As a team, all staff participating felt they would like to see a re-think about nursery classes. There are numbers of children who attend that they really can't accommodate. These children should be in nursery centres where there is more differentiated family support. The view was expressed that full time nursery would be favourable for 4 year olds. For their particular school population more time to work with children before they embark on the formalised curriculum would be helpful: a pre-school class with children coming on their 4th birthday and not entering school until 6 years old would create more opportunity to work over time with children.

Case Study 6 -Nursery Centre

An Integrated Inspection by the Care Commission and HM Inspectorate of Education was carried out in this setting in October 2005. The key strengths were the daily outdoor play, a rich, well-resourced programme in each of the five aspects of the curriculum, an attractive, stimulating learning environment with a hard working committed staff. The senior management team were seen to provide very effective leadership. In the under-three provision staff were warm, enthusiastic and had high expectations of children's behaviour and achievement. The observers recorded a very positive feeling from this nursery, the centre manager and staff, which is true in particular for the 0-2 and 2-3 rooms. On the observation visit it should be noted that there were not many children in 2-3 room as many children had just moved up and there were only 2 children in the baby room. The area in which the nursery centre is located has a Social Deprivation Index of 41.88 and falls in Social Deprivation decile 2 which means it has a relatively high level of deprivation.

CS6.1 - Case Study 6 - ITERS - ECERS

This nursery centre caters for children aged 0-5 years old. The learning environments created for all children were of a high quality which matched with the Integrated Inspection report. Staff - child interaction with the youngest children was a particular strength. Both settings worked positively with parents and staff felt there were good levels of personal and professional support as shown in the returns under the heading 'Parents and Staff'.

Table 8.25 - ITERS - ECERS

Setting

Space & Furnishings

Personal Care Routines

Listening And Talking

Activities

Interaction

Program Structure

Parents & Staff

Average Score per setting

(0-2 + 2-3)

7.00

7.00

6.00

5.56

6.75

6.67

6.00

6.43

(3-5)

5.88

5.80

5.25

3.80

5.20

5.67

6.17

5.40

CS6.2 - Well-being and Involvement

This centre did not undertake the well-being and involvement observations.

CS6.3 - Hutchison and Smith

Although there are only two profiles from Case Study 6 these are included as they are part of the overview of the 25 children profiled across case study settings.

Table 8.26 All dimensions of emerging sense of self on Teacher H&S Case Study 6

Dimension

Level

0-2

2-3

3-4 years

4-5

5/P.1 years

Total

Shows care and concern for self

no concern

1

1

concerned

1

1

totals

2

2

Vitality and energy

concerned

2

2

totals

2

2

Is able to be calm and relaxed at times

some concern

1

1

concerned

1

1

totals

2

2

Displays enjoyment and sense of fun

no concern

1

1

concerned

1

1

totals

2

2

Shows care and concern for self

no concern

2

2

totals

2

2

Can express likes and dislikes

no concern

2

2

totals

2

2

Demonstrates a sense of pride in own achievement

no concern

1

1

some concern

1

1

totals

2

2

CS6.3 - Parent Focus Group

The extent and nature of behaviour difficulties

When asked about 'normal' behaviour parents identified that young children are active, run about, play, are curious, that they want everything and have to learn to share, and that they test boundaries. A child not sleeping in own room/own bed was an issue for some but others suggested that this was a normal phase - 'they just turn a certain age and then they go'. Toilet training was an issue for some in so far as this required a lot of time and patience and no one strategy seemed to work.

Parenting hassles

Worries about behaviour included

  • temper tantrums among the under threes eg holding breath or throwing things
  • attention seeking among the under threes eg banging the door repeatedly

A strategy for this kind of behaviour was time out in the child's own room.

Parental strategies

The strategies parents reported that they use to encourage children to behave include -

  • Explaining and intervening - eg for sharing : you can have 10 minutes each or in extreme cases removing the toy from both
  • Setting limits : stop or do this by the time I count to three

Support

Parents identified strategies that staff used in general and at transition as related to the climate of the nursery and felt this was helpful to them to know the staff approaches -

  • Very relaxed and friendly (not like x nursery which is more regimented, more like school)
  • Staff listen to children
  • Staff get involved with children, do things with them,

What parents learned from nursery was 'to do things with the child at home' stories and paints were mentioned. Grandparents and their own mothers provided support. The parents (all mothers) said that they spoke to one another at playgroup or at the centre. They didn't think they needed help from anyone else, but if they had a real worry they would ask advice from nursery staff including the head of centre if it was serious (eg hearing). The head of centre could advise who else to get advice or support from - eg doctor.

Transitions

Most thought that children take a little while to settle but then settle reasonably easily. Parents were aware that the child got attached to the keyworker but knew that staff helped to prepare for transitions between rooms or to school by getting them used to being in activities with other adults. Strategies parents used included:

  • Praise - 'you were a good girl to stay at the nursery today'
  • Asking about the nursery and what child had been doing, playing with and so on.

Multi-agency

The parents agreed that the health visitor was an important source - 'they are good, give you practical advice'.

CS6.4 - General

Heuristic play materials

The provision was warm and the room was clean, light and safe. In addition to a range of toys and materials available in a storage cupboard, the team noted a choice of materials in wicker baskets which reflect the approach of 'heuristic play' in the toddler room. Explained in Elinor Goldschmied and Sonia Jackson's book 'Children under three' (1994), the concept of 'heuristic play' involves activities with a wide range of non-commercial objects chose for their texture, shape, weight, scent, taste, sound, colour, form, length and shininess (examples are various buttons ranging in shape, size and colour, feathers, curtain rings, ribbons and pebbles).

Goldschmied and Jackson's approach suggests clearing and freeing up floor space for a specific amount of time to allow heuristic play activities to take place. Adults need to remain uninvolved with children's heuristic play activities which allows children to naturally discover and explore; the research team did not see any explicit evidence of this occurring on the day of the visit. Staff appeared warm and involved. However, it is important to note that 'heuristic play is an approach and not a prescription. There is no right way to do it and people in different settings will have their own ideas and collect their own materials' (Goldschmied & Jackson 2004, page 130).

Sensory Room

A sensory room was available to the children- various lights ( e.g. soft lighting), sounds ( e.g. relaxing music), soft furnishing and textures are used to support children's holistic and social-emotional development.

CS6.5 - Transitions Case Study (n = 39 ) (Nursery Centre) (20% = 8)

8.27 - Summary of Transitions Case Study Participants

24 children were perceived to be skilled in all aspects of emotional, personal and social development

13 children were perceived to have a mix of developing and skilled categories

2 children were perceived to have some skills in the emerging category

80% of children were likely to be viewed as 'skilled' in all categories of emotional, personal and social development.

There was no category where 20% of children were perceived as having' developing' skills.

The aspects where more than 5 children (10%) were perceived to be in the developing skills category were:

  • Confident in relationships (5)
  • Concentration (7)
  • Take turns and share (5)

Two children were perceived to have skills in the emerging category.

Child one was perceived to have emerging skills in:

  • Playing cooperatively
  • Concentration
  • Commitment to task

Child 2 was perceived to have emerging skills in:

  • Playing cooperatively
  • Recognising others feelings
  • Exercising control

Staff comments focused on confidence, relationships, and behaviour with the majority of children being perceived to be 'having positive relationships', large numbers perceived to be 'confident', or 'growing in confidence'. In relation to behaviour large numbers were noted as being 'independent and co-operative'; and 'following rules and routines'; a number of children were perceived to be 'caring to others'. One child was noted as 'being quiet'; another was perceived to 'need support and encouragement to separate from parent' and another was perceived to 'need support and encouragement to share and play co-operatively'.

There were no parental comments from 29 of the sample (74%). Of those who commented confidence, relationships, improved behaviour and social skills, and readiness for school were mentioned.

CS6 - Summary

In this setting staff were pursuing a range of approaches, and measures showed a focus on the child as an individual. It would therefore have been interesting to have staff well-being and involvement observations for this setting, as other measures indicate pro-active approaches.

Case Study 7 - Nursery School

An Integrated Inspection by the Care Commission and HM Inspectorate of Education was carried out in May 2004. The key strengths were attractive, bright, welcoming playrooms and very good outdoor areas, very good programmes in all aspects of children's development and learning and very effective links between home and nursery and the very good support provided for children and their families. The very effective leadership of the headteacher and the commitment and hard work of the staff team were commended.

CS7. 1 - ECERS

A high overall score was recorded on the basis of observations undertaken using ECERS. Results accord broadly with the Integrated Inspection. The highest possible scores were recorded for interaction, which indicates that in terms of supervision, promoting positive behaviours, staff-child interactions and interactions among children all criteria were being met. This provides an excellent background in which to embed other data from this setting.

Table 8.28 - ECERS

Setting

Space & Furnishings

Personal Care Routines

Listening And Talking

Activities

Interaction

Program Structure

Parents & Staff

Average Score per setting

(3-5)

6.38

6.50

5.50

5.80

7.00

7.00

6.00

6.31

CS7.2 Well-being and Involvement

Of 28 well-being nursery observation returns there 4 children who were scored 2.5 and below in well-being in the first round of observations, by the second round just one 3 year old was still at a level 2, all others were scored at level 3 or above in second round, with 17 of 27 returns in round 2 being at levels 4 and 5.

Of the 24 involvement observation returns, there were 5 who scored low on involvement, 10 who scored 3 and 9 at a level 4. In the second round (n=34) no child scored under 3 on involvement, and 26 were at 4 or 5. As with other case study settings this seems to suggest positive change as children become more established in nursery, and younger ones adjust to their new environment.

Table 8.29 All dimensions of emerging sense of self on Teacher H&S Case Study 7

Dimension

Level

0-2

2-3

3-4 years

4-5

5/P.1 years

Total

Shows care and concern for self

no concern

1

1

extreme concern

1

1

totals

2

2

Vitality and energy

no concern

1

1

extreme concern

1

1

totals

2

2

Is able to be calm and relaxed at times

no concern

1

1

some concern

1

1

totals

2

2

Displays enjoyment and sense of fun

no concern

1

1

extreme concern

1

1

totals

2

2

Shows care and concern for self

no concern

1

1

concerned

1

1

totals

2

2

Can express likes and dislikes

no concern

1

1

concerned

1

1

totals

2

2

Demonstrates a sense of pride in own achievement

no concern

1

1

concerned

1

1

totals

2

2

CS7.3 - Staff Focus Group

Participants - 4 staff including Head

Length of focus group: 65 minutes (two staff left early one at 40 minutes one at 45 minutes)

Extent and Nature of Behaviour Difficulties

Staff felt that physical hurting was the worst behaviour and was hardest to control. Children need to learn that hurting other children was not a good thing to do: not listening to staff, not understanding what they were being asked to do, some are quick tempered blaming them.

Two children in particular were identified as being a constant problem and are included here as staff felt particularly challenged. Child A had been in the school for 18 months and every day there were major difficulties with physical and moody behaviours. The Family Support Worker had helped with techniques (see below) but the other children were relieved when Child A was not there, saying 'Oh good we are going to have a good day.' Child B also displayed violent behaviour, hit other children, lashed out, threw toys etc, over a long period of time and needed constant attention. He had been doing this since he was three. Neither child was deemed by the staff to be in need of extra help and they had considered and rejected that either had 'autism' or ' ADHD.'

The Family Support Worker works with the children in the school and has begun to develop work with parents and grandparents, use the 'Laevers feelings/ emotional barometer' to gauge children's changes. She reported that Child A changed it all the time and ' is obsessed with it.' She was beginning to see some changes after a lot of input but still found major problems. When she visited the home it was obvious to her that Child B runs the house: 'runs riot; rules the house; dictates bed times, what when to watch TV, no notion of what is appropriate and what is not appropriate, even has toy knives and Power Ranger outfits'.

Staff discussed other children's behaviour too, saying that a range of behavioural problems are presented. Staff watch for children who are always quiet, for example 'there is one girl ( 3 years old) who hardly speaks and shows no emotions at all, no facial expressions and is very cold, to other children and to staff, prefers to play on her own.'

Support and strategies

The training on emotional well-being was seen as brilliant and the staff use techniques from the Laevers' 'Box of feelings' which had been purchased by the council. The 'feelings/emotional barometer' is used by all children and the Family Support Worker uses 'smileys' to bring out feelings. This was seen as a new and positive change.

' We are asking the children about their feelings, how they feel about things, we never used to concentrate on their feelings, just how they behaved.'

Staff also used photographs to explore feelings and 'persona dolls' were beginning to be used, for example Harry and Sammy especially with Child B. They were exploring actions causing reactions. The key for changes in behaviour was seen as links with the parents and good communication. Staff have a very good relationship with most parents but there are 'hard-to-reach' parents with children who are perceived as most vulnerable.

Transitions

The group discussed transitions between home and school and nursery and school. Staff knew that parents felt that their children changed from setting to setting. In the home, the parents had to set the boundaries and the children were constantly seen to be challenging those boundaries, stretching them to the limit and pushing against them. Only a few children did this in the Nursery School. Staff felt that they could control it better than parents.

All children behave differently with different adults, mothers, grandparents and professional staff 'Some parents cannot believe it when I say that their child is really quiet because they say that they are really badly behaved at home.' Most parents were increasingly worried about bullying: staff felt that some children had learned to be 'nasty' as bullies and displayed at an early age 'mind and power' games which are usually associated with older children.

Staff discussed having reasonable relationships with the local school but they experience some difficulties in sharing information, and question whether their views are always valued. There were major behavioural problems with a group of nursery children the previous year, and these continued into the primary school. A more coordinated approach would have been helpful for these children.

Staff held regular meetings every week to ensure that they had a consistent approach to children and identified consistent techniques to interact with children who were not behaving: whether the really quiet ones or those like Child A and Child B.

Multi-agency Work

Other agencies had been periodically involved but not with any regularity. There was some contact with a local educational psychologist who was known to staff. Health visitors were seen as very helpful. Sure Start offers parents groups when the parents have young children. The nursery school lacks the space for a crèche and this creates a barrier to sustaining parent groupings. Parents were perceived as being under pressure and that influences the way they interact with their children, the centre has been vandalised recently and the community have been very supportive. It was recognised that some of the mothers have particularly difficult lives. Staff felt that the major push on nutrition and healthy eating has had a positive impact on the behaviour of children, fewer sugary foodstuffs and artificial sweeteners can only be positive.

Summary from Focus Groups

There is a wide range of behaviours which is seen as bad as well as good: physical hurting of another child or adult was seen as the worst form of behaviour and made parents most concerned. Television was seen by both staff and parents as a major transmitter of values and patterns of violent behaviour: a corollary is that parents did not regulate their children's TV as much as they would like and isolation in bedroom with TVs was a regular form of punishment. There are a wide range of techniques used to control behaviour by parents and included physical restraint, smacking, grounding in the bedroom, and shouting. Parents who had attended 'parenting' courses were more aware of non-violent techniques and the need for positive reinforcement. Parents were generally aware that their own behaviour impacted on their children.

Although many parents had familial support systems in place, others were isolated and under severe personal pressure which often dictated the relationship they had with their child. All parents and staff felt that the children behaved differently in the home, in the school and with other children and adults. This adaptive behaviour was perceived at a very young age. Identifiable bad behaviour e.g. physical attacks on other children has continued throughout a child's life in the nursery school from age 3-5 years and staff feel that it is continued into primary school and beyond. When identified, it is a continuous drain of staff's energy, resources, time and patience. New techniques including emotional barometers were seen as helpful. Parenting courses were seen by both staff and parents as beneficial but there was a group of 'heard-to-reach' parents who could not be contacted.

CS7.4 - Transitions Case Study (n =32) ( 20%= 6)

Table 8.30 - Summary of Transitions Case Study 7 Participants

15 children were perceived to be skilled in all categories of Emotional, Personal and Social development

16 children were perceived to have a mix of developing and skilled categories

1 child was perceived to have some skills in the emerging category

The majority of children ( 80%) were perceived to be skilled in 8 categories of Emotional, Personal and Social development :

  • Separates readily from parent/carer
  • Plays independently
  • Expresses appropriately own feelings, needs and preferences
  • Shows interest and curiosity
  • Knows when to seek help
  • Remembers and observes rules
  • Responds appropriately to instructions
  • Is independent in personal hygiene, cloakroom and other routines

The aspects were more than 5 children (20% of sample) were perceived to be in the developing skills category were:

  • Play cooperatively (6)
  • Recognises others' feelings (8)
  • Confident in relationships (10)
  • Concentration (7)
  • Committed to task (6)
  • Exercise Self-control (5)
  • Take turns and share (5)

Only 1 child was perceived to be in the emerging skills category . The aspects perceived to be emerging were:

  • Play cooperatively
  • Recognise others feelings
  • Confident in relationships
  • Observe rules
  • Exercise self control
  • Respond to instructions
  • Take turns and share

Staff commentary presented positive perceptions of children with the vast majority of comments relating to individual children being 'confident'; 'having positive relationships'; for only six children were these comments modified to, for example 'has become more confident' or 'feels secure with a special friend'; one child was perceived as 'needing lots of encouragement and reassurance', one child was perceived as 'making positive attempts to control his emotions when involved in sharing and taking turns … has made tremendous progress since Christmas'. This child was the same child perceived to be in the emerging category for a number of skills.

Parental commentary was also generally positive. The majority of parents perceived their child as having made progress e.g. 'has come on leaps and bounds' 'grown up so fast', a number commented that the child was 'ready for school' and a number recorded happiness and pride in their child's achievements. Four parents while recognising progress modified this in terms of progress made e.g. 'brought out of shell, helped to mix with other children and sit and join in'; extra year at nursery has given a lot more confidence'; learned to play with others, built confidence and looking forward to school; 'progressed quite well, likes to take part and tries very hard to persevere'. Two parents expressed early concerns but that these had been overtaken 'bit of a rollercoaster at first, unsettled but the difference in x is fantastic'; 'very shy and nervous at start but happy and confident and waiting eagerly to go to school'. Only one parent had remaining concerns ' s/he finds it difficult to bond, s/he will find in hard going to school without Ms X ( nursery staff)'.

CS7 - Summary

This nursery school was well placed, given the skills of its staff, and the positive leadership that was in place, to work proactively to intervene in children's behaviour. They recognised the challenge children's behaviours posed for some families, and were ready to offer support. They were realistic about the extent of difficulty in a number of cases cited. Some positive changes in well-being and involvement occurred between the two sets of measures undertaken, and staff were open to new approaches whilst understanding the importance of consistency of a shared approach. They were working to engage parents whenever possible.

Case Study 8 -Private Partnership Provider (0-2), (2-3), (3-5)

There is no current Integrated Inspection report available for this partnership provider.

CS8.1 - ITERS - ECERS

As is the case with many partner providers the full age range of children from 0-5 is catered for. The provision for 0-3 year olds in this partnership nursery was marked by high quality interaction. The 2-3 year olds additionally benefited from high quality personal care routines, and programme structure.

Table 8.31 - ITERS - ECERS

Setting

Space & Furnishings

Personal Care Routines

Listening and Talking

Activities

Interaction

Program Structure

Parents & Staff

Average Score per setting

8 (0-2)

5.56

5.67

5.30

3.86

6.00

3.00

2.00

4.48

8 (2-3)

5.40

6.17

5.00

4.89

6.25

7.00

4.00

5.53

8 (3-5)

4.63

5.00

3.50

3.22

4.00

3.67

4.50

4.07

CS8.2 - Well-being and involvement

Of 41 returns for both well-being and involvement observations in round 1, only 1 child was scored at less than 3 on well-being, whereas 7 scored less than 3 on involvement. None of the low scores fell into the 0-3 age group, where the ITERS has shown interactions to be at a high level. In the second round of involvement (n= 30) all but 3 scores had improved, with 3 under threes having a slight drop in score to below a score of 3. Half of the children were at levels 4 and 5 in this second round of observations.

Well-being observations included 14 children in the 0-3 age group, 15 three year olds and 11 four year olds. All were 3 or above in round 1, this remained the case in round 2 (n=33), but 4 scores had dropped, three had improved and the remainder were steady. In the case of the 15 three year olds, all had scored 3 or 4 in round 1, in round 2 this remained the case, but two had slightly lower scores than before, and the rest had all been rated at higher than before. The four year old group included one child being supported by outside agencies, and one child with a level 2 in well-being in the first round. By round 2 this child showed a score of 3.5, with most now showing well-being at levels 4.5 and 5, including the child with external support. Overall levels of well-being and involvement had improved.

CS8.3 - Hutchison and Smith Schedule

Staff completed returns in respect of 6 children. Only one of the six, in the 0-2 range, caused any major concerns, and this on 3 of the dimensions only. As with other cases the Hutchison and Smith appears to be a useful screening in order to establish young children's sense of self. Such awareness may be helpful for staff as they are able to identify children, monitor how they are progressing, and intervene in positive ways should this be appropriate.

Table 8.32 -All dimensions of emerging sense of self on Teacher H&S Case Study 8 (n=6)

Dimension

Level

0-2

2-3

3-4 years

4-5

5/P.1 years

Total

Shows care and concern for self

no concern

1

1

1

3

some concern

1

1

2

concerned

1

1

totals

2

1

2

1

6

Vitality and energy

no concern

1

2

1

4

some concern

1

1

2

totals

2

1

2

1

6

Is able to be calm and relaxed at times

no concern

1

1

1

3

some concern

1

1

concerned

1

1

very concerned

1

1

totals

2

1

2

1

6

Displays enjoyment and sense of fun

no concern

1

1

2

1

5

some concern

1

1

totals

2

1

2

1

6

Shows care and concern for self

no concern

1

2

1

4

some concern

1

1

very concerned

1

1

totals

2

1

2

1

6

Can express likes and dislikes

no concern

1

2

1

4

some concern

1

1

very concerned

1

1

totals

2

1

2

1

6

Demonstrates a sense of pride in own achievement

no concern

1

2

1

4

some concern

1

1

concerned

1

1

totals

2

1

2

1

6

Staff focus group

A focus group was not possible as staff were part of the ratio in the playrooms. Only 3 staff members had been involved - 1 from each room - so individual discussions were held.

Individual discussions with staff

Extent and nature of behaviour and staff strategies

All members of staff used discussion, distraction and re-direction as behaviour strategies. All members of staff talked about the individual needs of children and patterns of behaviour as being related to age/stage of development rather than any difficulty with the child. This was particularly true when discussing children from birth to three years.

Staff members in the 0 - 2 and the 2 - 3 rooms considered that the overall well-being and involvement of children was high. The baby room staff member stated that she would talk to children and explain why behaviour was unacceptable. She would hold the child's hand and gently stroke their face saying "gentle, gentle". She was aware that, at times, children threw things or hit out at other children but felt that these outbursts were rare and mainly related to their stage of development. She illustrated this with the case of one child whose behaviour changed when he became mobile. Staff used their strategies outlined above and the child soon became more pro-social in his behaviour. No child in the baby room was identified as having challenging or difficult behaviour.

The 2 - 3 room staff used similar strategies to those in the baby room. The staff member again attributed unacceptable behaviour to children's stage of development. As children were just beginning to develop spoken language and their sense of self and others, there were many tantrums. Staff tried to be consistent in their approach and in setting boundaries. They also used the discussion, distraction, re-direction and re-inforcement through repeated 'mantra-like' techniques. The nursery had introduced the local authority's 'birth to three curriculum guidelines' and had found these extremely helpful in improving behaviour/lessening tantrums in the 2 - 3 room. The 2 - 3 room had no children at the lower end of the well-being scale. One child did wander but he was only 20 months old.

The staff member in the 3 - 5 room, although stating that the well-being and involvement was high, qualified this by saying that during free-flow play, the children could be quite destructive but involved in what they were doing. She said that the children showed classic gender differences in their play with girls being more interested in pretend, home-based play and boys more interested in fighting. She attributed the boys' interest in combative games to their enjoyment of Power Rangers and Star Wars videos. She believed that boys needed energetic play but was concerned when they hurt one another and felt that some of the quieter children were alienated and isolated during this type of play.

Transitions

Transitions within the nursery were handled according to the needs of individual children. Key workers visited the next room with children regularly and supported the child within the room until the child was ready to move. One child had attended 2 nurseries for a time until a full time place became available. This child had displayed considerable anxiety and had refused to eat but this had been resolved when the child came into the nursery full-time. There had been no contact between the 2 nurseries. There were no links with primary schools as the nursery covers a large geographical area.

Support

All staff felt that they were skilled in dealing with children's challenging behaviour. Two attributed this to their experience as mothers rather than training. One member of staff (supervisor) was currently doing a BA degree. She felt that the knowledge gained on the course, particularly on a positive behaviour module, had changed and improved the behaviour strategies she used. A good ethos had allowed these strategies to be adopted by the whole staff group and she felt that children exhibited more pro-social behaviour as a result.

CS8. 3 - Transitions (n =20) (20% =4)

Table 8.33 - Summary of Transitions Case study 8 participants

1 child was perceived to be skilled in all categories of Emotional, Personal and Social development

19 children were perceived to have a mix of developing and skilled categories

No children were perceived to have some skills in the emerging category

More than 80% of children were likely to be viewed as 'skilled' in the following categories:

  • Expressing own feelings
  • Seeks help
  • Independent in personal hygiene, cloakroom and other routines
  • Takes turns and shares resources

The aspects were more than 4 children (20%) were perceived to be in the developing skills: category were

  • Play cooperatively (10)
  • Recognise others feelings (9)
  • Confident in relationships (9
  • Show Interest(6)
  • Concentration (6)
  • Committed to task (7)
  • Exercise Self-control (9)

No child was identified as being in the emerging category for any skill.

Staff comments focussed on confidence, relationships, happiness and behaviour with the majority of children being perceived to be 'confident', 'growing in confidence', 'having positive relationships' or being 'happy'. In relation to behaviour one child was noted as 'being quiet and preferring to observe rather than participate'; four children noted as 'needing encouragement to complete activities'; two children noted as being 'aware of rules'. In relation to relationships two children were perceived to be 'leaders in activities and caring to younger /less confident children'.

Parental comments focussed on confidence, positive relationships with children and staff, readiness for school and development of maturity. The majority of comments were positive. One parent commented that the nursery had supported her child in coping with the death of her father. Another family noted that their child had been premature and they had been warned of the possibility of developmental delays but that they were 'pleased with her development in the nursery'. However, one parent noted that the child 'needs encouragement in social events outside the nursery'.

CS8 - Summary

As with other partnership nurseries children often attended for extended hours, and therefore the nature of the programme and the activities presented warranted differentiated approaches. Staff felt equipped to work positively with children's behaviour, and were positive about development opportunities. A positive ethos was helpful, and measures of well-being and involvement rose between the first and second rounds of screening.

8.4 Themed Case Studies

8.4.1 Background to Themed Case Studies

Themed case studies were chosen to reflect a cross-section of the full sample across each local authority, on basis of good practice in the four case-study dimensions of practice in 0-3, Interaction, Multi-Professional Approach & Inter-Agency Working and Transition, or on basis of low (parental) return rate. At planning stage it was hoped that further contacts could be made with parents through the case-studying approach. The intention was that by case studying settings rather than children data could be gathered from settings, and could subsequently reveal a range of children whose stories could be told. The two aspects of case study worked in tandem.

8.4.2 Case Study 1 - Under threes

In this section we take a particular focus on the children aged 0-3 in the Positive Behaviour Study. 61 children under three were identified through the teacher data set, whereas 60 were identified through the Parent SDQ. In this data set the children's ages ranged from 6 months through to two 3 year olds who had not yet moved to the 3- 5 room in their setting. There were 8 under-1, 11 one year olds, and 40 two year olds, indicating merged data across domains.

Figure 8.3 - Average ECERS sub scale score in 0-3 settings

Figure 8.3 - Average ECERS sub scale score in 0-3 settings

Very young children in the study were benefiting from good standards across six of the seven subscale dimensions of the ITERS scale. Activities scored above average at just below a 'good' - in some settings very young children could benefit from a wider range of activities and more outdoor time. The quality of interaction overall in provision for the youngest children is very good.

Nevertheless, the 0-3 age range stood out in the study as being an age range at which some of the highest perceptions of concern or of 'at risk' behaviours were expressed by both parents and staff in a number of areas. For example, figure 8.4 shows the percentages of parent and staff perceptions of children's behaviour in the 'abnormal' category on the SDQ, and not only can it be seen that these percentages are highest for both parents and staff in the 0-3 age range, but also for both parents and staff there is a steady decrease as the age range becomes older. Additionally, staff perceive double the percentage of 0-3 children to show behaviours in the 'serious difficulties' category compared to parents.

However these very high 'abnormal' figures for the 0-3s should be interpreted with caution given that an adapted non- standardized version of Goodman's Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire was used with this age group. The 0-3 figures might be somewhat raised in some domains because they reflect some developmental behaviours which are fairly appropriate to the age range but which score as 'non-normal' in relation to the older age ranges.

Figure 8.4 Parent and staff perceptions of children in 'serious difficulties' category on SDQ

Figure 8.4 Parent and staff perceptions of children in 'serious difficulties' category on SDQ

Looking at the staff percentages in more detail in relation to particular domains of behaviour, it can be seen in figure 8.5 that staff perceive the greatest percentages of 'abnormal' levels of behaviour for the 0-3 range of children in the areas of pro-social behaviours, peer relations and conduct. Further, case study information from the Hutcheson and Smith screening schedule indicated 'feelings' and 'relationships with children' to be areas where staff expressed more concern in relation to a small proportion of the children in the 0-3 age range.

Figure 8.5 Staff perceptions of percentage of children's behaviours in 'serious difficulties' category on SDQ domains

Figure 8.5 Staff perceptions of percentage of children's behaviours in 'serious difficulties' category on SDQ domains

Similarly, staff ratings of well-being and involvement on the Leuven scales (figure 8.6) show that the highest percentages of children for whom low scores of 2.5 and under on well-being and on involvement have been given are in the 0-3 age range (19% for well-being and 27% for involvement), and also the 3-4 age range. It is recommended that children who are given a low score on well-being or involvement should be supported to develop good relationships as a context for intervention.

Figure 8.6 Staff ratings of well-being and involvement at 2.5 and below

Figure 8.6 Staff ratings of well-being and involvement at 2.5 and below

These results on parent and staff perceptions of difficulties in behaviour and well-being and involvement indicate both the extent to which the behaviour of the youngest group of children may be concerning, and also the changes in these behaviours which are perceived to take place by both parents and staff. It may be that these changes are happening through the intervention of an effective setting. The EPPE study found that

'one in three children were 'at risk' of developing learning difficulties at the start of pre-school, however, this fell to one in five by the time they started school. This suggests that attending pre-school can be an effective intervention for the reduction of special educational needs ( SEN) especially for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children' ( EPPE Executive Summary, page iii)

Additionally, it may be the case that well-being and involvement percentages for this age group reflect the need for a greater range of activities and more outdoor time, as indicated above. New guidance from Learning and Teaching Scotland 'Birth to Three, Supporting our Youngest Children'(2005), and the research evidence on meeting the needs of children from Birth to Three in Out-of-Home Provision (Stephen, Dunlop et al, 2003) each provide useful guidance for practitioners working with the youngest children. 'Birth to Three' support materials are now available, and are based on three key areas- relationships, responsive care and respect.

Some very young children are placed in local authority under-three provision on referral: it is likely that for this group staff will express higher levels of concern, since placement may be on a basis of such professional concerns, rather than the larger group of under-threes whose parents seek support for their children whilst they are working. Under three staff returns from partnership providers were overall very low in number, despite this being the most frequent form of under-three services at present.

Staff and parents in this project expressed a clear recognition of the importance and benefits of communication with each other, and the results for the 0-3 age group underline the need to take a holistic approach to sharing information from the earliest stages (Dalli, 2002).

8.4.3 Case Study 2 - Multi-professional Inter-agency working

Head of Settings Interviews

Heads of all settings were approached to take part in a semi-structured interview on the day of the research team visit to their setting. The items included on the interview schedule were the staffing profile, opening hours, attendance pattern, approaches to planning, observation and assessment, staff training or continuing professional development in the area of positive behaviour, links with parents, links with associated care and education settings, links with other agencies- both general and specific. Additionally heads of settings were asked to provide a set of documentation about their provision.

Response

Across the two local authorities, 35 Head of Centre/Service Provider interviews were achieved. Of these 15 interviews from a possible total of 19 took place in Edinburgh (1 Primary, 3 Primary/Nursery, 11 Pre-School), and 21 from a possible 23 in North Lanarkshire. A small number of Heads of Centre asked to return the interview schedule as a completed questionnaire as soon as they had had time to complete it, as they were unable to fit in the interview on the day of the research visit arranged for this purpose - these returns were not forthcoming.

Inter-Agency

Almost all respondents noted that they had contact with the agencies identified on the schedule: social work, health visitors, educational psychologist and speech and language therapists, however, only 5/6 had provided some contact details on the form. In these cases there was a strong focus on inter-agency working with heads of settings providing strong leadership in this area of practice. For example -

"We have regular contact with the Ed Psych. We agree a contract at the start of the year, some sessions are on a consultative basis. The psychologist can help with training. Some families come in and the need is mainly for the parent - the key worker has to be more task oriented as far as behaviour is concerned and child element is mainly development. Across the city we are moving towards a Care Coordination Model in planning of supporting parents in planning for their child from birth onwards. Edinburgh wide there is a multi-professional approach of giving ownership back to parents - the parent is part of the multi-professional approach and can nominate a representative. This Care Coordination Model can be applied whatever the child's setting/provision."

This setting also had high numbers (n=10) of identified children with ASN. We noted that two of the pre-schools had no children with additional needs and no contacts with other agencies or professionals. Of these one setting said any liaison would be managed by the headteacher of the primary school rather than by nursery staff.

The most common contacts were with educational psychologists, learning support, health professionals and speech and language therapists. Contact with Social Workers seemed to be only in relation to specific children although a third of settings knew how to contact the Social Work Office. Where children had multiple needs in relation to health a number of specialist health professionals were mentioned as well as health visitors.

Table 8.34 - frequency of inter-agency links

Ed Pysc

Parent Support

Speech Therapist

Dental

Health Visitor

Learning Support

Social Work

Specific Contact details

19

1

13

1

12

12

6

Known but No Specific Contact

7

No Contact

2

20

8

20

9

9

8

Additional Support /Behaviour Needs

Widening concepts of additional support needs and the inclusion agenda raise expectations of incidence of children with additional support needs in all settings. Figures reported by staff in this study suggest that participating settings are recognising 3% of children as falling within an identifiable category of identified educational support needs. Wider levels of concern identifying much higher figures across a range of measures and resonates with the notion of this wider concept of additional support needs.

Primary - Local Authority 1

Two Primary School Heads noted children with Additional Needs ( ASN, n=7) including some with social - emotional needs and challenging behaviour.

Primary - Local Authority 2

Three Primary Schools noted children with Additional needs ( n = 8, 6 in one school) including some with social/emotional needs and challenging behaviour.

Pre-school - Local Authority 1

One Primary Nursery class noted 6 children with ASN of whom one had challenging behaviour. This primary /nursery noted lots of challenging behaviour among its nursery population and a number of children who had been excluded from the nursery ( mostly boys) but no numbers were recorded for the purpose of the interview. Three pre-schools noted more than five children with additional needs but of these only two noted two children with behaviour needs. A further pre-school noted 2 children with needs but did not specify whether these were behaviour needs. Of these 1 pre-school noted no specific individual cases but commented that there were a number of children with social - emotional needs and that all children had involvement with other agencies as this was an admission criterion. In one further setting ten children with ASN were noted - each of these children carried a diagnosis - the behaviour of those on the autism spectrum was found to be particularly challenging for staff.

Pre-school - Local Authority 2

Thirteen pre-school settings noted children with additional support needs (range 1-7). Two 0-3 settings identified 3 and 2 children respectively with additional needs. Eleven 3-5 year old settings identified children with additional needs. Three had 1 child, two had 2 children, two had 3 children; three had 4 children, one had 5 children.

Does identification lead to intervention?

A question raised by identification of children with additional support needs is whether there is any intervention taking place for the 15% of children perceived to have difficulties across the various measures relating to behavioural concerns? This specific question was not asked. Where children have been identified as having some specific form of additional needs, it is clear that staff in all settings visited would take action, and the child will receive some sort of intervention.

Link with data from the SDQ

The strengths and difficulties questionnaires highlight that 34 parents perceive their children to have definite and severe behavioural difficulties (n = 34/ 567 = 6%). Staff perceive 179 children to have definite and severe difficulties (n = 179/1173 = 15%). Taking these subgroups of 'difficult' children and looked for information on the ASN 'child's needs' variable in the Background Information Form, this shows that 11% of the children perceived to have definite and severe difficulties by teachers have sensory and physical problems (according to parents). Similarly, 4% of this 'difficult' subgroup has been diagnosed with ASN (according to parents). The difference in view between parents and professionals on numbers of children presenting with definite and severe difficulties merits further investigation.

Summary - Multi-Professional and Inter-Agency Working

Overall across settings it was very difficult to access useful information about the range and number of contacts with other professionals, and the nature and frequency of contacts. Often there as no indication of whether this was on a regular or intermittent basis. The national policy emphasis on inter-agency working whilst clear in local authority policy, is not yet always evident on the ground.

8.4.4 Case Study 3 - Learning environments

All human behaviour occurs in context: the contexts of early childhood settings provide formative learning experiences and have the potential to lay the foundations for positive attitudes to people and to learning. Classroom climate is known to affect young children's well-being. The nature and structure of the day will influence the extent of choice, decision making, understanding of cause and effect, capacity to relate to others, to understand expectations and to gain from the opportunities offered. Malaguzzi claimed environment as the first teacher, his influential work in Reggio Emilia had a profound influence on the development of the 'Reggio model'. Here in Scotland the early child garden movement established nursery schools which placed an emphasis on working with the local community and on children's health and well-being. Early years pre-school practice has promoted a developmentally appropriate approach for many years. Within this approach in Scotland we have seen the value of a curriculum framework that provides guidelines on the processes of learning, and promotes principles of practice that recognise the competence of even very young children.

In this study of young children's behaviour it has been essential to consider the contexts or environments in which that behaviour occurs. To do so use was made of the Infant/Toddler Environment Rating Scale ( ITERS-r), (Harms, Cryer and Clifford,2003) and the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale ( ECERS-r), (Harms, Clifford and Cryer, 1998). These quality assessment instruments have established reliability and validity which means they are widely used in research studies. The ITERS is designed for use in centre-based child care settings for infants and toddlers up to the age of 30 months, while the ECERS is designed for use in pre-school, kindergarten and child care classrooms catering for children of 2.5 through to 5 years of age. Sylva et al (2004) made use of ECERS-r in the EPPE study which is the first UK large-scale prospective study on the effects of pre-school provision. A major aim of the EPPE research was to investigate the contribution of centre quality to children's developmental progress. EPPE found that the quality of early education is a significant factor in enhancing children's development, their results indicated that the ECERS-r is a more sensitive measure of quality related to children's social-behavioural development than the ECERS-e (the English extension of ECERS-r) which picks up more effectively on cognitive development. On this basis the present study used ECERS-r rather than the more recent ECERS-e since the prime focus was on children's positive behaviour and therefore their social development rather than the cognitive outcomes predicted by ECERS-e. Whilst ECERS-r is more sensitive to aspects of quality related to children's social development, Sylva et al also found it was highly correlated with ECERS-e: in other words certain process characteristics of quality are seen and understood in similar ways on the two rating scales (Sylva et al., 2006).

The decision to use the ECERS-r in both pre-school and primary came from the focus on the transition time specified in the project brief. As a result of a single annual entry to primary school, children in Scotland may start school between the ages of 4 years 5 months and 5 years 5 months. Given the current increasing emphasis on play in early primary education, a positive choice was made to rate pre-school and early primary classrooms on the same instrument. There are seven sub scales - they address space and furnishings, personal care routines, listening and talking ( ITERS)/language and reasoning ( ECERS), activities, interaction, programme structure and parent and staff dimensions. The full list of items forming the subscales are included in Annex 3. ITERS has 39 items while ECERS has 43. Here we have used average scores calculated from each of the sub scales. Scoring ranges from 1 = inadequate through to 3 = minimal, 5 = good with a score of 7 = excellent.

Overall settings scored most highly on provision for parents and staff, which includes respectful relations between parents and staff, sharing of child-related information, and a variety of alternatives used to encourage family involvement, provision for the personal and professional needs of staff, good staff interactions, shared responsibilities, good supervision and evaluation of staff and good opportunities for professional growth. High scores were achieved overall on interaction. This sub section in ECERS includes supervision of gross motor activities, general supervision of children, discipline, staff-child interactions and interactions amongst children. The research team found it was possible to achieve a good score overall in this sub scale even when the specific staff-child interaction item was of a lower quality. In ITERS the section includes supervision of play and learning, peer interaction, staff-child interaction and discipline.

Overall ratings on the ITERS and ECERS subscales

Most sub scale average scores were between a 5 and a 6 (Table 8.35), with only 'activities' scoring consistently below 5. The range of activities included in ITERS are fine motor, active physical play, art, music and movement, blocks, dramatic play, sand and water play, nature and science, use of TV, video or computer, and promoting acceptance of diversity; in ECERS maths/number is also included. (Sylva, at al, 1998)

Table 8.35 Average Scores on ECERS - ITERS (Highest possible average score = 7)

Subscale

Average
Score
Overall

Average
Score
Nursery
0-3

Average
Score
Nursery
3-5

Average
Score
Nursery
(0-5)

Average
Score
Primary
1

Average
Score
Edinburgh

Average
Score North
Lanarkshire

Average
Score
Case
Study
Settings

Space & Furnishings

5.37

5.86

5.65

5.78

4.56

5.92

5.06

5.59

Personal Care Routines

5.24

5.24

5.38

5.31

5.05

5.36

5.29

5.02

Language- Reasoning
(Listening & Talking)

5.36

5.51

5.45

5.48

5.04

5.51

5.31

5.34

Activities

4.36

4.46

4.9

4.68

3.5

4.64

4.24

4.51

Interaction

5.84

6.15

5.99

6.07

5.28

5.76

5.91

5.95

Program Structure

5.17

5.19

5.93

5.56

4.07

5.79

4.91

5.55

Parents & Staff

5.9

5.35

6.1

5.73

6.2

6.76

5.58

5.49

Figure 8.7 Overall average scores ECERS - ITERS

Figure 8.7 Overall average scores ECERS - ITERS

A comparison of 0-3 settings and 3-5 nursery settings shows higher scores on space and furnishings, listening and talking and interaction in the 0-3 settings, with pastoral care, activities, programme structure and parent and staff dimensions higher in the 3-5 settings (Figure 8.8).

Figure 8.8 - Comparison 0-3 and 3-5 environments

Figure 8.8 - Comparison 0-3 and 3-5 environments

A comparison of nursery (3-5) and primary 1 (Figure 8.9) shows higher ECERS scores on all subscales except the parents and staff subscale where primary is marginally higher.

Figure 8.9 - Comparison of 3-5 and P1 environments

Figure 8.9 - Comparison of 3-5 and P1 environments

In their early years children may start in group settings in babyhood. All children have the opportunity for two years of pre-school education, and whilst take-up varies across the country nearly all children in their pre-school year attend some out-of-home provision. Dunlop (2004b) suggests that one of the characteristics of a smooth transition to a new setting is that children should find themselves in a recognisable environment. This is not an argument for 'sameness' but rather the case is being made that young children's learning, as their behaviour, develops in context, and if the context is very different the young child may not be able to exercise competence from the start of their time in the new setting. Feeling like a 'fish out of water' may result in uncharacteristic behaviours. For example a child might become less responsive, more anxious or more fidgety. It is therefore important in terms of children's behaviour that the settings either side of a transition, whether home to nursery or nursery to school, share not only child-related information, but also share information about the curriculum, the nature of relationships and the type of environment in which children have been at their most successful.

8.4.5 Case Study 4 - Parental participation - Particularly vulnerable groups of parents

To give a flavour of responses from our qualitative data, two matched discussions undertaken in an area of high social deprivation follow:

Parents' focus group

A focus group held with 9 mothers and 1 grandmother. The children of these respondents are aged between 10 months and 6 years

a) Extent and Nature of Behaviour Difficulties

Parents said their child's behaviour can be difficult to cope with at times although they mentioned they expect their children's behaviour to be difficult at times as this is 'normal' behaviour.

Temper tantrums and problems with potty training and sleeping were mentioned; sleeping was perceived as difficult to cope with due to the problem coming up at night time when nobody can be contacted for advice/help.

b) Parenting Hassles

Many mums said it to be exhausting to deal with the children all day and that it can be hard to be consistent. Mums mentioned that experience with a first child made them more relaxed when having a second; although some mums mentioned to feel guilty as it was not possible to give the second baby as much attention as the first-born.

Strategies

The mums mentioned using the following strategies to promote positive behaviour and deal with negative behaviour:

  • naughty step
  • time-out
  • restricting treats
  • explaining and setting rules
  • praise

Most mums reported using distraction rather than punishment when trying to promote positive behaviour.

c) Children's behaviour in different situations

Most mums felt their children behaved better with other people and at nursery; they felt this is because at nursery the children are the focus of attention and there are a lot of distractions and opportunities for the child to play and socialise.

d) Transition

One mum spoke of how her son blossomed when starting nursery; it gave him confidence and independence.

Matched example from the staff group at the same centre

Staff mentioned the main reason for parents visiting the centre to be contact with other adults/parents, which ties in with what parents told us about need for adult contact. The Principal Teacher felt that at times the centre gets misused as the main aim of the centre should be for parents to learn about their child's development rather than using the centre as a childminding service whilst interacting with other parents.

a) Extent and Nature of Behaviour Difficulties

All 3 staff members did not find children's behaviour in their setting to be concerning. Most negative behaviours were typified as normal for the children's age and stage ( e.g. not sharing).

b) Strategies

Strategies used by staff for promoting positive behaviour were said to include:

  • modelling (for both children and parents)- e.g. sharing, taking turns
  • distraction
  • time-out
  • getting down to child's eye level and making eye contact

c) Transition

Strategies used by staff at times of transition:

  • talking to children about the move in a positive way
  • visits
  • talking to parents

The Principal Teacher advised that they are hoping to undertake home visits for vulnerable parents in the future.

d) Training

Staff have not had in-house training specifically on dealing with behaviour but most have had modules on behaviour whilst at college/studying; a member of staff informed us more training on this would be useful. Two staff members mentioned they would like more training in counselling due to the type of problems their parents are dealing with, whilst one staff member expressed the wish to have more training on dealing with EAL children (English as an Additional Language).

e) Multi-Agency Working

The Principal Teacher reported making links with other agencies, e.g. health visitors, library, Stepping Stones, Art centre. Links with social work are only made on an individual basis if a child needs support.

f) Support & Other Agencies

Mums mentioned the nursery staff were supportive and a number of mums said the staff were important role-models, however most mums would first talk to their own mum or friends when looking for advice or support. A number of mums said their health visitor was helpful.

It was remarkable how all mums mentioned support from their family, particularly that of their mum, to be of paramount importance; because of her knowledge, expertise and advice but also for baby-sitting and child-minding issues.

All mums spoke of the need to have contact with other adults/mums and of the desire to occasionally have a break from the kids and to have some time alone.