It is through the child’s ability to play and their development of trusting relationships that each child dares to make forays into the wider world, beginning with taking up their role as a participant in the school community. This is the move towards interdependency where children grow via a take up in responsibilities rather than a demand for rights.
The creation of a therapeutic community calls for learning of a peculiarly immediate and personal kind on the part of all involved……….everyone is subject to scrutiny and while the process may be painful it cannot fail to increase individual awareness, provided of course that the group has the skill, motivation and shared ego strength to work through the problem rather than resort to escape devices or over hasty and false solutions.
Maxwell, Jones, 1968, Social Psychiatry in Practice
Opportunities grow from the new found confidence children find in dependable relationships and clear rules and boundaries. In groups in the households and classes, children begin to see that they can have a positive influence on the social and physical environment in which they live. They notice that their voice is being heard and their communications understood. Their increasing ability to consciously recognise these facts help them to make deliberate use of the developing skills they have.
Children are supported in this journey using the Social / Emotional APP (Assessing Pupils Progress) tool. This is a visual aid which through answering questions, helps children to recognise and see plotted on a diagram their social and emotional progress. They take pride in this progress and it is reflected in changes to the rights and responsibilities they experience in their groups and groupings in the houses and classes.
Much of the day to day living alongside activity between adults and children is the work of developing participation and citizenship.
The children see the pinnacle of this progress as election to the school council. This follows a hustings type event in which children canvas opinion, advertise what they feel they have to contribute and speak in front of the community, looking to ‘convince wavering voters’. They are voted for by their peers. The council takes an active role in the running of the organisation.