A News story by Radhika Sharma 17 December 2020

Based at Hareclive E-ACT Academy in Bristol but open to all E-ACT pupils at our Bristol academies, the Launchpad is an early intervention provision for pupils with social, emotional and mental health needs. Offering 16-week specialist programmes for up to 12 pupils at a time, the Launchpad helps children find their way back towards successfully engaging with their education in mainstream classroom and fulfilling their potential.

From sensory learning activities to sessions that allow pupils to explore how what they do impacts on others and problem solving, the Launchpad curriculum offers a wide range of experiences to meet pupils’ emotional and social needs. Having been set up over a year ago in 2019, the Launchpad in Bristol has gone from strength to strength and helped a number of E-ACT pupils with their mental health.

At E-ACT, we are particularly proud that the Launchpad is able to support pupils that may otherwise have not been able to access support, due to being in disadvantaged circumstances, not meeting the threshold or part of an educational organisation that does not offer this kind of help. By identifying those that are struggling with their mental health early on, the Launchpad prevents them becoming disengaged. Launchpad pupils are supported by a specialist team including E-ACT’s own educational psychologist, speech & language therapist and other SEMH specialists.

Since the Launchpad began operating in the autumn of 2019, some of the key successes include:

• Supporting 14 pupils through early intervention

• Supporting 42 pupils throughout lockdown, both within their academies and virtually

• At the end of their time at the Launchpad, 75% showed a significant reduction in their scores having dropped to ‘Slightly Above Average’ or ‘Average’ in their emotional needs. This is compared to arriving at the Launchpad with ‘Very High’ emotional health needs.

• On returning to their academies in September, 92% pupils showed that they were engaged with mainstream learning every day

• The Launchpad team managed to raise £1,400 to take pupils who attended the Launchpad on a week long residential at Jamie’s Farm, along with some other vulnerable children. At Jamie’s Farm, pupils assisted with the daily tasks on a farm including feeding and cleaning animals, cooking meals and planting crops.

An E-ACT academy teacher reported that as a result of attending Launchpad sessions, a Year 3 pupil had “shown improvement in his socialising at the academy and had been much less anxious.”

A parent of another pupil also commented that her child “is doing better at home, listening more and is able to apologise. She has also started to open up more and say if she is feeling upset.”

As the Launchpad has seen huge successes just one year on, plans for the future include being able to develop in other regions and set up more mental health hubs across the country. The Launchpad has plans to continue to provide early intervention to as many pupils as possible and to be a hub for all E-ACT academies in Bristol.