Evaluation of the Welsh Government's Counselling in Schools Primary Pilot in Wrexham, Wales

From March 2009 to February 2011
Project Leader(s): Kathryn Hunt ( Glyndwr University)
Staff: Sue Pattison, Maggie Robson (Keele University)
Sponsors: Welsh Government/ Wrexham Local Authority

Presenter(s): Maggie Robson
Other Author(s): Sue Pattison & Kathryn Hunt

Keywords: evaluation, semi structured interviews, thematic analysis, therapeutic interventions, foundation phase

Title: Evaluation of therapeutic interventions to support well-being in the foundation phase in schools

Aim/Purpose: 4 pilot studies were commissioned by WAG in 4 regions of Wales to evaluate the provision of counselling in primary schools. In Wrexham, 4 schools were identified and therapeutic interventions were developed for use with Foundation Phase (3-7 years) staff and pupils.The purpose of this paper is to describe the method and results of the evaluation of therapeutic interventions in Foundation Phase Schools in Wrexham.

Design/Methodology: Heads of each setting, staff involved in implementing the project in each school and the therapists involved in delivery of the project were interviewed at the start of the project, after the first year and after the end of the project. The data collection methods were: Focus group- key setting staff. Interviews (semi-structured). Interviews at the beginning and end of the project were carried out with a LA representative and an early years coordinator. Data set:3 point interviews (beginning, middle, end) - Beginning n=10, Middle n=10, End n=10. 2 point interviews (beginning, end). Beginning n=2 .End n=2. A thematic approach was taken to data analysis and this was based around a series of issues.     

Results/Findings: The following issues were identified and analysed in relation to the Wrexham primary pilots: i) the implementation of the strategy ii) good practice iii) Information on service delivery iv) Benefits/effectiveness v) Expectations vi) What could be changed? vii) What should be left the same? Full results will be displayed in the presentation

Research Limitations: Small data set; Evaluation did not set out to generalise the results but to gather the perceptions of those involved in implimenting the therapeutic interventions of the success of the project

Conclusions/Implications: The overwhelming evidence gathered suggests that this project has been very successful. Its success seems to be because:1. The therapist implementing the interventions is highly regarded by professionals working in education and has managed to change practice from within the schools. 2. The interventions can be implemented virtually immediately. A child can be identified as having a difficulty in the morning and can be accessing one to one play in the afternoon.3. Staff have been trained, become more confident and empowered to recognise the different meanings of play and to intervene appropriately. 4. Because staff have been trained and empowered, the project is sustainable and can be extended throughout the schools in the project and to other schools who have not been involved in the project. 5. The interventions have been tailored to the individual needs of the school.


Dr Sue Pattison
Lecturer in Education and Communication and Director of Integrated Phd in Education and Communication