Lucas, Zaya, Armani, Devlin and Emily from Muirkirk Primary with Cllrs Cowan, Simmons and Lennox, Linda McAulayGriffiths, Head Teacher Mrs McLean and Alice from Barnardos

Barnardo's proud to support schools recognised for their dedication to emotional wellbeing of children and young people

A school in East Ayrshire has been awarded ‘SEL Worldwide Model School’ status, which has come about after they successfully integrated the ‘PATHS® Programme for Schools (UK Version)’ within everyday life.

This social and emotional learning (SEL) programme supports children from a young age to raise awareness of their feelings and helps them to develop self-regulation skills, and, earlier this month, Muirkirk Primary School was the latest recipient of the award.

This prestigious SEL Award is awarded by leading children’s charity Barnardo’s in recognition of the outstanding commitment to fostering emotional intelligence, interpersonal skills, and overall wellbeing amongst school children.

Delivery of the programme is supported by specialist coaches from Barnardo’s. Activities are designed to help children’s development in learning to regulate their emotions, boost self-esteem, increase their emotional awareness and teach them problem-solving skills. This includes within relationships and friendships, with the aim of improving the mental health of nursery and primary school pupils.

Barnardo’s has supported 11 schools in East Ayrshire. Staff and pupils from Muirkirk were presented with their awards by a Programme Co-ordinator from Barnardo’s, who has been working closely with schools to support staff to embed the programme into everyday learning.

Councillor Elaine Cowan, the Council’s Spokesperson for Education, Children and Young People was joined at the special celebration event by local elected members, Councillor Alyson Simmons and Councillor William Lennox, and Linda McAulay-Griffiths, Chief Education Officer and Head of Education.

Councillor Cowan said: “It was fantastic to join Head Teacher Anne McLean and team Muirkirk Primary for their award celebrations. The children and young people explained how the PATHS Programme worked through song and a play, clearly demonstrating how they use control signals to manage their emotions and how they give compliments to their peers. It was a lot of fun but the message was clear that PATHS has been a very positive experience.

“The event was a real celebration of three years of hard work by the whole school community and I was delighted to be there to offer my congratulations on being the first school in East Ayrshire to receive their SEL Award.”

Anne McLean, Head Teacher at Muirkirk Primary School and ECC, said: “We are delighted to be the first school in East Ayrshire to achieve Model School status! We love the PATHS® Programme; it has had a really positive impact across our school community. The PATHS® Programme is now fully embedded, and I cannot imagine not using it now. It is part of who we are!”

Hazel Russell, Children Services Manager at Barnardo’s, said: “To be an SEL Worldwide Model School using the PATHS® Programme requires more than to have teachers doing a high-quality job of teaching the lessons in their classrooms.

“This school has worked to create deeper transformation nurturing whole-school systems change that has included embodying SEL skills in the school’s leadership, using SEL practices throughout the school, creating a school culture in which staff and pupils feel valued and nurtured, creating positive expectations that pupils and staff will utilise SEL skills throughout the school, with peers and adults, and communicating with parents and supporting the ability to use SEL skills at home.

“We are extremely proud of the way this setting has taken the PATHS® Programme and made it part of the fabric of their school. We’re delighted to work with SEL Worldwide to recognise this achievement.”

Jenna Richmond, Senior Lead Early Years Practitioner, said: “The PATHS® Programme has made a huge difference in the Early Childhood Centre. Our children can label their feelings more accurately, recognising that sometimes we have different feelings to other people and that is OK. Importantly, the PATHS® Programme has helped the children regulate their feelings more effectively. The children love the PATHS® Programme, and we can really see the benefits.”

In the past year, Barnardo’s in Scotland provided essential support to more than 11,500 children, young people, parents and carers through more than 150 specialised community-based services and partnerships across the country. The charity works to ensure that every child has the best possible start in life. To donate, volunteer or fundraise, please visit Barnardo's website 

Notes to editors

Issued on behalf of Barnardo's