Clackmannanshire is celebrating its success in raising awareness of the importance of children and young people's mental and emotional wellbeing.
Last week (Thursday 31st August) children, parents and staff from Abercromby Primary School, Tullibody, shared their positive partnership working with The Spark with the Deputy First Minister.
John Swinney was given gold star treatment, meeting the whole school community and observing first hand, the impact of a focus on early and effective interventions for children.
For The Spark, who provide relationship and counselling support for children in some of our schools in Clackmannanshire, this was a great opportunity to highlight our child-centred wellbeing programmes and demonstrate our commitment to the social and emotional wellbeing of young people.
Deputy First Minister, John Swinney said: "Our children's health and emotional wellbeing is one of the most important considerations that we must take as parents, carers and teachers. Counselling can play a key role in improving pupil health and wellbeing and can have a direct positive impact on attainment. We know that if a child's emotional and mental wellbeing are negatively impacted by difficult experiences, then learning is fundamentally and significantly impaired.
"I was delighted to visit Abercromby Primary School in Clackmannanshire and see first-hand the positive impact and effect that the Spark counselling service is having on young people at the school. This service is providing a safe space to identified children, giving them an opportunity to explore their feelings and emotions.
"With the financial support of the Scottish Government's Pupil Equity Funding - spent at the discretion of Headteachers - this service is carried out effectively through collaborative working between the school and the local authority. It is done with the firm understanding that a child's ability to learn in the classroom does not exist in isolation of the wider circumstances that they may be coping with at home and in their community. It is essential that all children are given appropriate support to achieve their potential."
Education Spokesperson Cllr Graham Lindsay said: "Social and emotional wellbeing creates the foundations for healthy behaviours and educational attainment. The targeted and universal activities showcased here at Abercromby and provided within the Clackmannanshire Attainment Challenge, highlight the importance we place on child-centred, multi-agency approaches to improve wellbeing and close the poverty related attainment gap."
Stella Gibson, Chief Executive of The Spark, said: "Our partnership with Clackmannanshire Council has enabled us to evaluate our school counselling service, demonstrating the hugely positive impact it is having on pupils' emotional health and well-being.
"Teachers have said the counselling The Spark delivers in schools improves the children's concentration, behaviour, coping skills and motivation. Parents echo these sentiments and find their children more settled, both at school and at home.
"We are delighted the Scottish Government's Pupil Equity Funding is supporting children's emotional health and well-being. We are thrilled to meet with Mr Swinney to show him the benefits of The Spark's services first hand."
The Spark Counselling Service is part of a suite of child-centred health and wellbeing interventions in Clackmannanshire's Scottish Attainment Challenge programme.
The aim of The Spark approach is to provide a non-stigmatising counselling service for identified young people in primary schools using independent, supportive professionals to meet more effectively their health and wellbeing needs.
Research shows that some children and young people across experience periods in their development when they need support with mental and emotional wellbeing. By identifying issues early, determining potential risks and providing early intervention to prevent issues escalating, the chances of children and young people reaching their potential and leading happy, healthy lives as adults increases.
Focussing on emotional, mental and social wellbeing through engagement with organisations such as The Spark has been shown to positively impact on the outcomes for our most vulnerable and at risk children and young people.