Park School

Rewarding independence

At Park School, we want students to reach their full potential but often tread a fine line between providing the support and scaffolding necessary for them to develop independence, and over-supporting – creating dependence and a culture of learned helplessness, particularly with SEND students.

Some students are overly dependent on the teacher and others; have problems with trust, low self-esteem and are reluctant to think for themselves or make decisions. The goal is to work with students to help them become more self-reliant and develop more trust in their own judgements. This requires communicating high expectations and setting firm limits on interactions; providing assistance in ways that foster independence rather than dependence.

A reward system was implemented based upon independence. Students receive a mark out of 3 for each lesson based on their level of independence. Teachers, support staff and students use a range of strategies before support is given rather than defaulting to support. Progress is monitored and improved independence rewarded.

What was the impact?

Some students have immediately showed improvements simply because they knew independence was being monitored and rewarded. Others were able to show independence when supported with strategies.