How Thrive has changed our approach – and improved academic attainment

Written by: Thrive | Published:
Craig Prichard, Headteacher, Penywuan Primary School

Headteacher Craig Prichard of Penywuan Primary School in Wales introduced Thrive to embed a whole-school approach to ensure each child has their social and emotional needs met...

Why did Thrive appeal to you?

In our school, 50 to 70% of children have free school meals. In common with many other schools we have looked-after children, as well as children who may have experienced abuse or neglect. When I joined the school, it was immediately apparent that we needed to put something in place to address this.

We started running nurture and emotional literacy groups. These groups did impact positively on the children who took part, but I can’t honestly say they had a massive impact on the school as a whole. I went to a Thrive event held by the local authority, and I immediately thought, "This is it! This is what I’ve been looking for!"

How did you introduce Thrive to the school?

For me, if Thrive is going to work then it has to be led from the top. So, I did the 10-day Licensed Practioner training myself. I wanted to get a better understanding of the approach and I felt that if I was asking staff to do it then I needed to be able to "walk the talk".

The course completely changed the way I think about child development, the way I talk to children, the way I approach confrontation. I've been teaching for more than 20 years and I hadn’t had training like this before. It totally changed me. My staff see how passionate I am about it. I roll up my sleeves and get stuck in. I’m now thinking of doing the "Train the Trainer" course as well so we can train our own staff.

What was it about Thrive that particularly appealed to you as a head?

As well as benefiting the children themselves, being able to assess and monitor the progress of individuals and whole classes through Thrive-Online (TOL) has been invaluable. I’m challenged constantly to show the impact of my spending, and now I can easily collate and share the hard data with the local authority and other bodies. I’m currently tracking our children who have had individual Thrive support and comparing their attainment to the rest of the class. So far, we’re seeing that the children who have had Thrive are actually overtaking their peers. When I get data like that, it excites me! This is the proof that Thrive is working.

How has Thrive affected your pupils?

There are so many success stories. One of our boys from a troubled background was self-harming in school, head-butting and punching walls, hurting others, and running off. His self-esteem seemed to be at rock-bottom so I did a Thrive assessment to help us identify and prioritise his needs.

I then worked with him once or twice a week on the activities suggested on Thrive-Online. Our first activity was a trust-building exercise that involved eating doughnuts! This was something that appealed to him and I was able to use the activity to help him start to feel better about himself. Gradually, after a few months on the Thrive programme, the level of disruptive incidents dropped. If he felt he was going to go crazy, he would come to me first.

By the end of the year, he had started feeling special. He was smiling – and had stopped running off. But he also exceeded his end-of-year target, reaching Level 4 instead of Level 3. Now, don’t tell me that Thrive doesn’t impact on learning. The work we did put him into a position where he was ready to learn.

Thrive has changed the way we respond to behaviour as a school too. Whereas before we might have excluded a child, now we might give them time with a Thrive Practitioner. A child needs to see a consequence, but what's the point of sending them away from school? At least if they're working with a Thrive Practitioner, they can develop the skills to regulate themselves better next time.

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