Story writing project helps pupil deal with emotions

Students get creative in storytelling therapy

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A project at Worle Community School in Weston-super-Mare is helping students explore their emotions through stories - while writing about subjects such as lonely dragons.

It is one of only four schools in the country to be awarded funding to take part in the Young Minds project, a programme of therapeutic teaching which uses story writing to explore feelings.

Research has shown that it can increase the motivation of the pupils while giving students the chance to explore their emotions through writing stories, reading them to others and drawing pictures.

It also allows students take control of their situation and change how they approach things in the future.

A typical session starts with a 'mindfulness' activity to help the students relax, followed by a feelings 'check-in' where pupils place themselves on a 'ladder' to show their current emotional state.

The School Report team The team hard at work

There follows a suggestion for a story, such as, 'There was once a very angry dragon…' and the students then write their pieces.

At the end, they share their stories and, while listening, illustrate their own.

Often there is a review of emotions at the end.

The facilitator then types up the stories and provides feedback to the student on their work.

This is very important as it validates their writing and gives pupils something to be proud of.

'New vocabulary'

Students involved said that, on the whole, the exercise was a good thing which helped them "get out" their emotions.

Start Quote

Kirsty with Ms Barnes

I want to be a reporter now, this has given me the techniques that I would need”

End Quote Kirsty

If they go in and they feel angry, it gets expressed in the story and they come out feeling happier.

Students' personal lives were always secure. They only had to say why they were feeling the way they were if they wanted to, and the story progresses in any way they want.

If the pupils did not feel the emotion the story starter suggested, they would change it to match their feelings, and sometimes at home, students would decide to draw their emotion, using the strategies from the sessions.

The BBC team asked Worle Community School if they could use Young Minds as one of their School Report Day features for 2013, and the school was glad to help.

Accordingly, on Thursday 14 March, four BBC personnel descended on Worle Community School to help our students film a piece about Young Minds for television and record a piece for the radio.

They helped show students how to interview, record and film professionally, how to structure and edit links between interviews, and how - in short - the worlds of television and radio work.

The finished piece will appear on BBC television and radio, and on the website and the Red Button, on School Report Day on 21 March. It entirely features Worle students, with the BBC professionals only appearing behind the scenes.

Students said they got a lot out of the experience.

"It was really great fun and we all had a great day," said Joe.

Sam added: "I learned a lot of new vocabulary, like 'top-line', which means what your story is about in a nutshell."

And Kirsty continued: "I want to be a reporter now, because this has given me the techniques that I would need.

"I really enjoyed learning how to talk properly into the camera and the radio microphones."

The other Sam in the group said: 'It was great fun and it boosted my confidence.

"The day gave me useful information about the problems people face in and out of school.

"And I couldn't believe how much work goes in to making a short report."

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