Soothe & Grove
13 students from Port Glasgow High School formed a large team called ‘Soothe & Groove,’; they chose this name as they planned to incorporate music into their tool. Prior to COVID lockdown, the team had designed their tool in the format of a colouring book; due to the disruption caused by the pandemic however, the team did not have a chance to pilot and evaluate their tool. We have talked to Mrs Fraser, their teacher and Champion of the teams, to learn more about the teachers’ and pupils’ experience of taking part in this Project Soothe Young Citizen Scientists Project.
A Teacher’s Perspective – Catching up with Mrs Fraser
What about Project Soothe interested you and your school in partaking in the Young Citizen Scientist project?
Our school appointed a new Head Teacher in 2017, who embarked on a new health and wellbeing strategy, as there was a need in our school for further support of students’ emotional needs. This included two wellbeing bases for supporting our young people, as well as new partnerships, and the development of my role, as I am specially trained in health and wellbeing, with a focus on mental, social, and emotional wellbeing. Port Glasgow also has a high percentage of children from impoverished backgrounds, as our school is in a highly socially deprived area. Furthermore, there is a significant level of substance use in the area, and unfortunately, the death rate during the pandemic was high. This ultimately impacted the mental health of our students, and so we recognised that there was gap for emotional support. We introduced a skills-based programme with a focus on resiliency and group-work, to support students before they could reach CAMHS services, as the waiting lists are long. Our English teacher knew the Project Soothe team and thought this would be a good opportunity that aligned with the school’s increased focus on wellbeing.
Could you tell us what the teams planned to do?
Certainly! After students attended the workshops, there were two groups that formed. One group was made up of thirteen students, who planned to create a colouring book using soothing images and music to listen to whilst colouring. By the time the project was disrupted by the lockdown, the team had agreed on a bespoke colouring book, made up of their own soothing photographs. The other group was formed of one student, who was very driven on this project. He created a ‘Soothe Vision Soothe Box,’ which featured the images on a video, as well as inspirational quotes from Harry Potter books chosen by the student, with specially created music that was inspired by The Hobbit.
What have the students gained from participating in this research?
The students enjoyed the professionalism of the workshops, which were well-organised and thoughtful. Also, being part of a university project was attractive to them, and the ability to think so creatively and be able to produce something tangible was exciting. The flexible budget provided by Project Soothe meant that the students were not restricted, and the funding allowed them to be creative to produce a tangible tool that they could be proud of. Furthermore, the team has been given the opportunity to work on an academic paper with Masters students, which is a fantastic achievement for a student of their age.
What do you think the staff have gained from this experience?
Working in partnership with Project Soothe has been a fantastic experience, as it has opened opportunities with the students. As a school, we believe this project has helped us look outwards, and that is significant for our students. For staff, it’s also encouraging that the project allowed them to build their confidence, and helped students think about their futures and their careers, especially with a project that engages them with mental health.
Were there obstacles in the groups completing the projects?
Unfortunately, with the lockdown, the larger group were no longer able to meet up to continue with the project. Students were already overwhelmed with the shift to online learning, and all students have different home circumstances, so virtual meetings were not possible. The lockdown halted the momentum of the larger group. This also sadly meant the showcase had to be cancelled, which was disappointing. Additionally, once students had returned to classes in school, there was a recovery period for integrating students back into school life, and sadly the project was not continued. By contrast, the other team was able to continue with the project mostly due to the young person being very driven and motivated and also because smaller teams were less affected by lockdown. The support from the Project Soothe team was excellent and I don’t think there was anything more the Project Soothe team could have done during the lockdown.
What were the successes of this project, and what should be kept or added if this project was extended to other schools?
I think the professionalism of the workshops was effective at drawing students in and engaging them initially with the project, as the presentations were colourful and well-organised. Additionally, the opportunities that Project Soothe created for our students were great, as working with professionals on composing music is a unique experience that they would not have had otherwise. The flexible budget that Project Soothe gave the teams was also beneficial, as it allowed students to be as creative as possible. The students also appreciated the certificates they gained after completing the project, and perhaps additional qualifications or accreditations would have encouraged even more students to take part. Badges are always popular among young people too!