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Our School Story:
Southwood Primary School

Before the implementation of relational practice at Southwood Primary School, the management and approach to behaviour were punitive. Wave 3 Nurture provision was required for up to 30 children a term and there were over 30 exclusions each year and multiple referrals to alternative provision.


“Staff were stressed, helpless and constantly felt inadequate with their management of behaviour” and “had fractured relationships with the children who needed the strong connections the most”.


But Southwood’s vision was to have a school filled with “joy, happiness, buzz and purpose for the community”, with engaged parents, empowered staff, relational interventions and no need for exclusions.


The SLT and inclusion team spearheaded a mission to develop a deeper understanding of trauma and therapeutic provisions. The school came to the realisation that punitive measures were neither safe, helpful, nor successful. This began their whole school approach to relational practice. Book study of ‘When The Adults Change…’ was key, with working groups focusing on particular chapters. Initially, there was some resistance, but as staff began to visibly see and feel the changes it was easier to get them on board.


They introduced respect agreements in classrooms to foster a shared vision of values within the class and the school. 


All staff now understand the importance of strong, healthy, and stable relationships with parents and students. They have a trauma-informed and relational framework to rely on when difficulties arise. A dedicated inclusion team supports the school’s values and connections, acknowledging that some students require additional relational support. Expectations for adult behaviour in developing, building, and maintaining relationships within the school community are clear, simple, and consistent. Recognition is used as a strategy to uphold expectations, fostering a culture of recognition for staff, parents, and children.


A significant achievement for the school that reflects the work and effort they have put into relational practice is that Southwood Primary has been able to eliminate exclusions. 


Southwood Primary’s journey demonstrates that embedding relational practice can bring about profound positive changes. It showcases the importance of investing in staff development, embracing evidence-based approaches, and nurturing strong connections within the school community.

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