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St Matthew's Primary School

Laughology pioneered the UK’s first Happy-centred school in association with St Matthew’s Primary School, Luton, and helped turn an underachieving school in an underprivileged area into a success story.

The challenge:

The forward-thinking Headteacher and motivated staff at St Matthew’s were faced with a challenging task. The school was an in economically underprivileged, ethnically diverse catchment area.

Many pupils came from disadvantaged backgrounds and had a range of social issues. Previous Ofsted inspections had classified the school as in need of improvement. The staff needed support and resilience, the pupils needed self-belief and the school needed to increase data as well as learning plans to improve its Ofsted rating.

The solution:

In 2012 Laughology began working with the head teacher, staff and pupils to implement a ground-breaking initiative with the aim of embedding happiness at the heart of school life.

The on-going, bespoke scheme had several goals; to help pupils improve their SATs and be happier, confident and more-focused, to improve Ofsted criteria and to create a supportive environment for staff. We worked in partnership with the school throughout.

Initially, we engaged teachers by delivering an inset day during which we used research and analysis to show how happiness levels impact positively on learning, resilience and confidence.

Over the following weeks we worked in consultation with teachers and school leaders to determine the vision and values for the school by interviewing staff and surveying pupils. Taking this approach we identified a number of areas where key happiness skills and factors could be reinforced, such as confidence, positive relationships and support structures. We also formed a steering group of enthusiastic teachers and support staff to be happy-centred school champions and trained and supported them to drive the project forward.

We identified five themes for happiness and created lesson plans around these themes. The Laughology team worked with the children using our Flip technique to help them feel more in control before and during SATS.

We created visuals which were used around the school to reinforce the happy themes which were embedded in lessons and into the culture of the school. The initiative complemented more traditional academic learning as a booster to the education process and not as a separate topic area.

The results:

All of the Year 6 children, 88 in total, participated in the programme and by the end of their time at primary school, in both English and Maths, SAT results were up by 20% on the previous year, by far the best results the school had achieved in recent years and reaching the national average of 60% for level 4 for the first time since 2006. 

The school’s Head teacher and her colleagues were in no doubt that a major factor in this result was down to the children developing more positive attitudes, having greater self-belief and a desire to do better. In 2013 Ofsted re-inspected the school and announced it as good with the outstanding excellent qualities in leadership.  The social and emotional as well as the behavioural aspects of learning were mentioned and credited in the report along with the leadership skills.  Laughology is delighted to have an on-going partnership with the school.

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