11. Creative Approaches to Support Poor Body Image of S1/S2 Girls

Background 6 female pupils (S1 /S2) were identified through the extended Pupil Support team (Community Link, Guidance, Behaviour Support, Learning Support and Outdoor Education), as presenting with poor body image, resulting in truancy and refusal to undertake Physical Education . Key Support staff withdrew the pupils from mainstream classes for two periods (approx 2 hours) per week. The group met for 8 weeks (originally timetabled for 6 weeks, but extended to support topics raised by the girls themselves).Solution Focused Approach It was agreed prior to the commencement of the course that it was important the group represented a broad range of body types and personalities in order to minimise any pre­ conceived body ideals and ovoid fuelling participants’ own body image neurosis or low self­ esteem. Consideration was given to pupils’ backgrounds and life experience and reflected through the materials used. Strategies Key success factors were agreed as: • a positive ethos in which pupils were supported to make good choices and actively take responsibility for changing their mindset; • opportunity of ‘living with’ a disability, which promoted a re-evaluation of their hang­ ups about their own body image; • discussion and agreement about a group activity which would involve a significant personal challenge; • gradual re-integration into Physical Education with continuing support from the Support department; • introduction to and links fostered with a range of additional local specialist support services in order that the pupils could access support for issues such as self harm and alcohol abuse; • introduction of Self-Esteem Cards which allowed pupils to quickly focus on positive support strategies in times of crisis; • co-delivery by staff from diverse professional backgrounds and similar professional values and shared aims for the young girls. Range of Strategies to Promote Positive Behaviour and Improve Learning All work promoted positive behaviour with the aim of improved self image and confidence. This in turn led to better attendance and improved learning. Individualised Planning Flexibility was built into the course to ensure individual topics raised within the group could be explored both within group session time and individually. Key workers/lead person/s adopted an open door policy to accommodate additional support needs and linked with School Support staff as appropriate. This was a highly personalised approach to address similar but unique needs. A Flexible Curriculum in Line with Curriculum for Excellence Flexibility within the school timetable, external support links, a mix of topic based and spontaneous learning opportunities, co-delivery by the Community Link worker and Outdoor Education Instructor helped target a range of topics and increase informal and spontaneous learning opportunities. The school also fulfilled its statutory requirement of ensuring the girls had 2 hours of Physical Education and were ultimately re-integrated into mainstream physical education classes. Partnership Working Close links were formed with the School Nurses and several external support agencies. Local information portals, eg websites such as Cool to Talk and Young Scot were promoted. Successful Outcomes included:
  • increased attendance at Physical Education;
  • pupils’ self awareness and self esteem improved;
  • successful personal challenge completed through aerial assault course;
  • pupils introduced to a wide range of additional (specialist) support agencies both in school and within their community.