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Children learn professor's Super Skills to build their self-esteem

A ground-breaking programme to help primary school children improve their self-esteem and better understand their feelings is to be launched across the Diocese of Salford, after senior staff there saw the benefits in a London-based trial.

Posted: 9 October 2015

image for news story Children learn professor's Super Skills to build their self-esteem
Professor Cecilia Essau has developed the Super Skills for Life Programme
Caritas Schools Service Cathedral Centre is working with 27 schools in 13 local authority areas within the diocese. It will bring in the Super Skills for Life programme developed by Professor Cecilia Essau from the University of Roehampton.

The eight week course will help pupils who teachers believe need extra help to boost self-esteem or deal with behaviour management issues. With guidance from staff they will learn practical skills to develop their confidence and build social skills and to deal with problems. They will be encouraged to understand how their thinking can influence behaviour and how helpful thoughts can lead to positive actions benefitting them and their classmates.

Professor Essau’s Super Skills for Life programme was first used at 12 schools in North and South-West London and children who took part increased in self-confidence and improved performance in school. Their social and communications skills improved and so did involvement in social activities; at the same time, anxiety levels and behavioural problems also dropped.

Similar courses using cognitive behaviour therapy have existed before, but the course developed by Professor Essau at Roehampton which Salford pupils will use also includes video sessions and cognitive preparation, where children whose parents consent are filmed so they can watch how they behave to learn from seeing their actions and the impact they have. This approach is unique as it targets the children on an individualised basis to help them further develop their confidence levels at their own pace.

Georgina Jones, Service Manager for Caritas’ School’s Service said: “Children have so much to learn in primary school and we’ve brought in University’s Super Skills for Life programme to help pupils early on in life. I was so excited when I first saw Super Skills because it is such an accessible programme and it’s reassuring for us and the children’s parents that there is evidence behind its success. Super Skills offers a targeted approach and is so accessible making it simple for us to implement across the diocese. Our ultimate goal is to help children and their parents. I hope it will also help children to enjoy their school days more as well.”

The children will use a work book full of step by step examples on how to practice reading out loud to their class, polite ways to join a conversation and taking part properly in group activities likes sports. They will be encouraged to talk about what they are good at and what makes them happy, to recognise positive emotions.

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