Gemstones was founded by Eithne Leming in 2012.
Having seen how the economic climate was beginning to change the education system, Eithne foresaw the need for an independent dedicated education services company that offered a unique blend of behaviour support and therapeutic interventions with a learning focus for vulnerable and troublesome children and hence Gemstones Education was formed.
Joining Eithne in her role as Strategic Director are two other ex Headteachers: David Fox – Operations Director who handles all client liaison and oversees day to day running of the company and Sue Chesworth – Director.
Now with a staff of eight Teaching and Therapeutic Learning Consultants working across the whole Eastern region, Gemstones continues to grow and increase its work scope to support schools.
We provide a range of therapeutic outreach services to schools (EYs settings, primary and high), pupils and their families.
Services for Schools & Teachers
We provide a wide range of bespoke Short and Long Term services designed with schools that recognise their existing strengths and the needs of their particular context. The following are some examples for commissioning our behaviour support services.
Short-term, emergency support:
- We provide support to schools, individual teachers and support staff through our work on individual cases providing, coaching or modelling of solutions and strategies for the pupil or pupils involved.
Longer Term for those looking of an on-going partnership and more strategic support:
- We provide bespoke training for groups of staff through our staff support and development sessions for teachers and support staff tailored to the school context and existing staff capabilities.
- Lesson study support for teachers and support staff to meet the needs of a group of pupils within a whole class setting
- Design of programmes such as transition or cross age tutoring to meet the needs of the context of an individual school, partnership or group of schools.
- Helpline service which can be commissioned by groups of schools to provide early intervention support to teachers and support staff based around specific cases. This can also include a follow up observation or working lunch.
- Guidance and support for establishing specialist provision such as a Nurture Group including design of a curriculum to suit the context and needs of the children.
Services for Families and Carers
Our family support programme enables us to work with the child and their issues within the family group.
- Case work based individual parent and child sessions in school to address a range of learning and behaviour issues and improve parental involvement and engagement with the school.
- Bespoke courses for groups of parents to develop parenting skills such as behaviour management, promoting learning, providing ideas for creative low cost activities for holiday periods, child and infant massage courses.
An example of a family support package is shown here:
Parent Support Group
A total of 12 hours of group work consisting of one two hour session per week over a six week period. The sessions are provided by 2 trained and experienced parent group facilitators for up to 10 parents or carers.
This Parenting Support Group focuses on:
- Emotional well being for child and parents.
- Child development.
- Effective communication within the family.
- Setting limits and boundaries.
- Roles and responsibilities within the home and children’s services.
- Communication skills for working with staff from schools and social care.
Example of a session – Communication Skills
- Welcome and Introductions.
- Domestics and Group boundaries.
- Communication – how do children/adults communicate?
- Input communication pie chart.
- Is what we see/hear of our children the reality or our perception of the situation – use optical illusion slides to illustrate the point.
- VAK exercise – do you and your child match ~ if not strategies to help you enhance your communication with your child.
- Aggressive/passive/assertive communication styles – what might be your child’s past experience of communication – how might they feel living with a parent who communicates in a different style?
- I and you communication exercise.
- Do and don’t communication exercise.
- Additional communication tools.
- Metaphor stories.
- Broken record technique.
- Visual communication techniques.
- Allowing ‘take up time’.
- Improved communication between parent and child, or parent and school.
- Improved strategies and skills for managing behaviour.
- Bespoke resources for home to support positive management of behaviour and development of skills.
Services for Children and Young People
We address a range of issues either on an individual or whole group or class basis, longer or short term such as: overcoming school phobia and a range of other anxiety related issues including attachment disorders, low mood, poor self belief & self efficacy, low self esteem and confidence as a learner, managing negative feelings & aggression.
Our case-work based services provide bespoke or tailored programmes customised to suit the individual needs of the child or young person and the capabilities of the staff. These often run for 6 weeks at a time. We provide:
- Individual or small group therapeutic sessions such as play or drama, with target children or young people to develop self help skills and tailored behaviour management solutions.
- Bridging activities into the classroom so they can be coached in applying what has been learned in individual therapy sessions to avoid dependency being created in the young person or child.
- Parent and child sessions to tackle issues that have an impact on learning
- Feedback to school staff including observations of problem behaviour and strategies that work and ideas for pupil targets, resources and practical solutions.
- Cross age tutor or volunteer training for young people,
- Transition or nurture group projects,
- Tailored therapeutic LAC provision often using pupil premium funding, which has a different termly or half termly focus including some family work.
Case Study Example – School Refusal and Anxiety
Background to Referral
Katherine is in year 9 and when she started High School was a high achiever having gained level 5 in Maths English and Science in KS2 SATs. Reports from her teachers at Primary and High schools indicate her potential, but also that she is quiet, reserved and some note a lack of confidence despite her abilities. Katherine forms friendships, but these tend to be within a small select group.
Towards the end of year 8 there were some family problems, which included relationship breakdown, a house move and a new partner for her mother moving into the family house.
At the beginning of Yr.9 attendance started to become sporadic and some teachers began reporting that Katherine was becoming increasingly withdrawn, unhappy, socially isolated and nervous or anxious. Katherine’s school work also began to show a significant decline in standards of work and lack of progress in all subjects.
The head of year contacted Katherine’s mother and after a number of meetings identified that Katherine was unhappy at home, was missing her father and relationships with her mother and her mother’s partner were becoming increasingly strained. Katherine was experiencing panic attacks at school and the fear was that she was becoming school phobic.
Education Welfare Service was contacted and provided advice to the school about attendance monitoring. The school put in place a number of support strategies, as part of School Action Plus plan, which was agreed with the parents and with Katherine. Although attendance improved the panic attacks and deep anxiety about the deterioration in her school work were significantly impairing her progress at school. Katherine felt a failure and started to become a failing student.
A CAF form was completed and at the meeting, counselling sessions were to be provided and the school nurse was consulted which lead to a referral to the school medical officer. A local voluntary service was contracted to provide family support services for the mother, which included an introductory home visit and a course for parents of teenagers.
Problems continued and so six months later a referral was made to GEMSTONES using the standard CAF form. Katherine’s mother wanted help for her daughter at school and whilst the support she had received had given her some useful tips there was nothing suggested that had made a difference with managing Katherine’s anxieties, reluctance to attend school and her confidence levels about her ability as a learner.
The school medical officer had not identified any medical issues relating to physical health but felt that depression was a factor. She thought that treatment for depression in the form of anti-depressants would be an option, however Katherine’s mother and Katherine herself rejected this suggestion at this stage.
Following referral to GEMSTONES and the consultation meeting with the school as the referring agency, the following was identified and formed the framework for the contract.
- Anxiety, including panic attacks and developing risk of developing severe school phobia.
- Lack of progress and falling levels of attainment in learning.
- Risk of becoming NEET (Not in education, training or employment).
- Increasing social isolation due to sporadic attendance and falling levels of confidence.
- Regular attendance.
- Reduction/elimination of panic attacks.
- Improved progress and levels of attainment.
- Improved levels of self confidence and stronger/regained relationships with friends.
- Three one to one sessions for developing self managed control strategies for phobias and anxiety.
- Training for learning mentor – e.g. therapeutic stories and use of language to support positive thinking and calm states for pupils.
- Family session – to provide input about communication techniques for encouraging calm states and positive thinking in young people.
- Staff Support and Professional Development session based around the case for all members of staff with responsibility for Katherine.
- Special registration arrangements including a one to one session with the learning mentor.
- A system of communication with home via text messaging regarding pupil absence.
- Opportunities for Katherine to talk during the school day to a learning mentor and the head of year.
- Opportunity for Katherine to receive training in peer mentoring or mediation scheme with a view to becoming part of the school’s student support services.
After meetings with both Katherine and her parents the following were added to the plan:
- Study support twice a week at lunchtime for mathematics to help her regain confidence in this area of her studies.
- An identified friend to be invited to attend the training in peer mentoring or mediation to support Katherine.
- Clarification of arrangements for Katherine to have regular communication and contact with her father.
- Clarification of arrangements for home-school communication to include both parents in review of progress with the proposed intervention plan.
- Katherine reported increased levels of confidence. (Increase from ratingof 3 to 8 on a 10 point scale).
- She reports more confidence with peers and is using some of the skills learnt with a younger pupil in the peer mentoring scheme who has low self-esteem.
- Control of anxiety and panic attacks – Katherine reported that the strategies she has been taught have helped reduce these. She reports increased levels of calm and control in difficult situations.
- Attendance has improved and is now no longer a cause for concern.
- Katherine is much more positive about her abilities as a learner. (Increase from rating of 4 to 8 on a 10 point scale).
- As a result staff are pleased with her progress and levels of attainment, whilst still showing underachievement are much improved.
- Mother and daughter report improvement in the relationship.
- Staff training and support (ie Staff Support and Development Session and training for Learning Mentor) rated as either very effective or effective by all participants.
- Staff also report that Katherine is less socially isolated and has successfully completed training for peer mentoring scheme.