Lever Park Study into pupil behaviour and academic performance
Lever Park School is a day special school established for 42 boys and girls aged between 11 and 16 years of age who have a statement of special educational needs relating to their Social, Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties. The pupils display very challenging behaviour and have many complex needs relating to their difficulties. The school delivers a full and varied curriculum in line with national requirements and the pupils are subject to national testing and examinations in SATs and GCSEs.
The interest in trialling Omega 3 at Lever Park came after research by the school counsellor, who was seeking to provide a therapeutic and sustainable impact on behaviour and learning in a whole school context. We had heard about the affects of Omega 3 on the concentration span and behaviour of children through various reports and articles in the media. Our Pupil’s success in education depends on how receptive they are in lessons to teaching and learning as their difficulties have been a major contributing factor to under achievement through out their time in education. With little or no form of added assistance for their difficulties, other than staff skills, Omega 3 seemed an alternative which could not be over looked.
Ensuring compliance from the pupils was a major concern given their unpredictability and often defiant stance against anything they are unsure of. Finding an appropriate and attractive way of administering the oils was needed. At the same time as the trials were being considered the school was raising the profile of healthy eating. The menus had been changed at lunch time after consultation with the school meals service and the pupils through the school council. The pupils themselves had asked if fruit smoothies could be part of their diet, so it was decided we would administer the oils through smoothies, which would be made every morning at registration period.
The Sustainability of the trial was another major issue to consider. One of the schools who had previously trialled Omega 3 had experienced a deterioration in behaviour after funding for the oils ran out. It became imperative to sustain the trial, if proved successful, given the effort and resources dedicated to the project and more importantly the pupils well being and education.
All the pupils at the school were offered the oils and monitored daily for compliance over a period of 7 months. Most pupils took the oil at some stage of the trial but we found that 21 of the pupils could be considered to have been regular users. Others were too erratic in the take up of the oils, while others refused.
As a school predominantly preoccupied by the behaviour of its pupils the best indicators of success inevitably surrounded weather the staff felt that there had been a significant improvement in the school ethos and behaviour; if pupils themselves felt more receptive to school and if any parent saw significant change in the character of their children. We were also interested in any indication that showed academic progress once the children became more receptive to teaching and learning as the oils took effect. Unfortunately the timescale of the trial did not coincide with SATs or GCSE examinations which would give an indication of the success academically but this will be part of the sustainability exercise in the future. The basic skills of the pupils in Literacy were monitored and are part of the key indicators.
The specific indicators used where:
- Boxall Profile
- Incident sheets - marking any incidents occuring during the trial period
- Exclusions - if any pupils are excluded after a serious incident
- Academic progress - marking changes in basic literacy skills
- Pupil Survery - feedback from themselves on how they feel re their behaviour and mood
- Parental Survey - feedback from their parents on their observations of any behavioural changes
- 86% of literacy scores improved
- 76% of pupils felt happier about their academic performance
- 79% of parents noticed positive changes in their children
- 75% reduction in boisterous behaviour