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Safe and Sensitive Schools: 2 ½ years later

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The Safe and Sensitive Schools (SASS) project was designed to make selected schools safe and sensitive through embedding policies, spaces and interactions that are positive, constructive, nurturing and collaborative for all – students and staff alike.

Maya Menon, Akhila Doraswamy, Misbah Shahid and Shipra Suneja, members of the TTF team overseeing, coordinating and implementing the intervention, presented the findings of the project at the Excellence in School Education Conclave on 13 November 2011. Following Jenny Mosley's demonstration of how Quality Circle Time works, the TTF team elaborated on the entire project, its different components and the impact in schools.

The 2 ½ year long project, with eleven schools, focused on training the school and the teachers to promote positive relationships among all the stakeholders in the school: heads of school, teachers and students, making schools more safe and sensitive. The project came out of an identified need based on the too common trend of negative language in schools marked by harshness of tone. In these situations, children have difficulty  expressing and sharing their feelings as well as developing empathy and a sense of self-confidence.

PB220032A video documentary which captured the essence of the positive interactions during the SASS Project, directed and edited by Gautam Sonti, was screened. A central component, QCT, is being conducted in schools which has helped the students build positive interactions and relation among the class. Teachers discussed how they improved their interactions with students, using rewards and sanctions as opposed to sticks and criticism. They also explained how their overall way of relating to students has changed, being much more friendly and sensitive.
PB220037The focus was to build self esteem which translated in other areas as well. The whole school behaviour policy helps the systems and processes in schools that helps foster positive interactions and build trust.

The heads who have undergone the programme expressed that they strongly believe that QCT has helped students use their listening skills and the schools have become gentler spaces. The bubble time, in which students and teachers talk one on one, has helped the teachers and students deal with children's individual needs and concerns.

During the presentation, Sujatha Mohandas, Principal, Sishu Griha and Rema Nandakumar, Principal, Chinmaya Vidyalaya spoke about the experience of hosting the SASS Project. Both the heads of schools mentioned that change in the school environment is clearly evident. It is visible in the way students and teachers talk to each other and how the school itself functions.

PB220041One can see changes at the schools that have been a part of the project, changes that are subtle but definite - teachers innovatively using the QCT sessions to discuss common classroom concerns and help students think of creative ways to solve them; children delighted to participate and share their thoughts, the teachers in many cases also mentioned that the unity in the class has also strengthened; teachers using positive behaviour management techniques rather than punishments; regular QCT sessions has helped children, especially the quieter ones, to express themselves confidently; and most of the listening and appreciation systems in place.
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