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Sprowston Community Academy Case Study - Transforming Outcomes Through Wellbeing and Relationships

This week’s case study focuses on our long standing partners Sprowston Community Academy and how they have utilised the RISE Up programme and Trauma Informed PE programmes to transform outcomes for some of their most vulnerable young people.  

PE team photo

We previously featured the Academy in a case study June 2022, about how they implemented the programme around developing healthy habits and we revisited the school in March for an inspirational update.

Sprowston Community Academy is a large coeducational secondary school located in Norwich, Norfolk and is part of the Broad Horizons Education Trust. 

Their inspirational 2nd in PE, Jonathan Richards (Jon) and brilliant RISE Up lead teacher Lauren Fowler (Lauren), talk us through how they have implemented the programmes and what the impact has been.


Lauren - One of our Year 8 PE groups were particularly struggling post lockdown with their confidence and this was affecting their behaviour and engagement, so I wanted to support my class with their wellbeing, motivation and to help them create meaningful PE.

I noticed that many in the class were lacking motivation post lockdown, and discovered that many in the class used to attend cheerleading clubs pre lockdown when they were aged 8-9 but stopped at the start of lockdown and never returned. 

I wanted to give them the skills to boost their wellbeing and self-confidence so we could get them enjoying movement and they felt able to attend clubs to boost their sense of belonging in our community.


Lauren - We spent a block before Christmas focusing on students' holistic health & wellbeing through fitness.  I wanted to use the RISE Up resources to help my young people see why PE can be so good for their wellbeing and to boost their social interactions. 

We focused on building our students' self-confidence, their self-kindness, and using worries as a positive. We covered some sessions on healthy habits focusing on attending clubs and how exercise can help our students access the four happiness chemicals.


They particularly enjoyed the stress busters (circuit) and inclusive team aspects in fitness in our gym space. 


Lauren - The RISE Up programme has helped us improve Attendance, Behaviour, Engagement, Mental Health, Personal development for our Year 8 group.

It has helped our young people see why PE is meaningful to them and helped with their engagement and interactions with each other. This has continued as we have moved through other units in PE. 

They have responded particularly well when we have provided our young people with choice such as in a circuit training lesson when we co-designed the circuit and then completed it.  This has served as a blue print to how we can get the best out of our young people.

I used an adapted version of the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale Survey to measure my perceptions of my Year 8 classes' wellbeing and these were the results:

As you can see, the results are really positive for the cohort with each aspect improving.

We completed this table for 2 of our most challenging students pre and post intervention. One is Pupil Premium and one isn’t.  Both have very similar profiles.

School Data

Pre Intervention commenced

Intervention Concluded

Virtue Points

3 times each pre RISE Up unit

Neither have been sent out since

Predicted PE grades (Head - Heart - Hands)

All 2s before

Mainly 3s and a 4

(Scale is 1-5, 5 is the best)

Attendance in PE





We have replicated a similar programme with some of our year 9 PE classes and seen similar results for our young people.

Scratching the surface

The Year 8 RISE Up programme is just one way the brilliant team at Sprowston have incorporated a range of ideas from the RISE Up and Trauma Informed PE programmes to support a wider range of students across their school.  Jon Richards, 2nd in PE, explains more:

Prioritising Relationships

Jon -  The Trauma Informed PE course has given us a foundation of knowledge around Adverse Childhood Experiences and helped us have more empathy during our interactions with our most vulnerable students.

A new student started Sprowston during this academic year. He had previously had lots of trauma and had the support of a social worker on a regular basis alongside his family. He had not been in a mainstream school for over 5 years.

On his first day he had PE and he told me he didn't do PE and would not be getting changed. The old version of myself would have been sympathetic but ultimately to maintain the rules of the school he would have been given a choice of getting changed and joining in PE with the rest of his class or go the R3. Clearly he would have chosen R3 and I would put lots of money that we would have never seen him in PE again.

The new version of myself that is much more aware of trauma and how it affects students so I did not hand out any ultimatums and force the student down a cul de sac that he would have never recovered from.

I remember inviting the student into my office for a chat which actually lasted 5 minutes. In this time the rest of the class were sitting in the changing room talking. The new version of myself was very aware that this was actually a massively brilliant use of everyone’s 5 minutes and the class would be far better off with a settled and happier new student than having lots of disruption and anger within their environment.

I was shocked with how successful a very calm and understanding and sympathetic teacher was at unpicking the student's issues with PE. We discussed that he did not want to change in front of others and that he had not got a PE kit. I was so pleased to see the student smile back at me when I was talking to him when only a few minutes earlier he had such negative body language.

In the 5 minute chat we established a positive relationship that is still going strong now despite him struggling in many areas of the school to integrate back into lessons on a permanent basis and seeing how poor his interactions are with other members of staff.

In the chat we outlined a timetable for how much he would be getting involved in PE and when he would start to get changed. He kept his part of the agreement up and within a few weeks he was changing and a happy and active member of his PE class alongside his peers as he feels psychologically safe.

In fact in his very first lesson, after our chat, we agreed he could sit and watch the lesson but within 5-10 minutes he was asking if he could do any jobs to help me and started to hand out bibs and by the end of the lesson he had borrowed a whistle and was refereeing and scoring the handball game. His social worker and mum, who I rang at the end of the day, could not believe what had happened.

Using Inclusive Teams to develop a sense of belonging at Sprowston

Jon - At Sprowston we have tried to focus on participation within our extra curricular programme and the need to make our offer as accessible to all as possible to develop a sense of belonging in our young people.

We have created a wide range of Inclusive team festivals and clubs to develop a sense of belonging in our young people.  – An example of this is caged cricket – where the emphasis is on fun, quick games with everyone welcome and involved. It is a very quick and simplified version of the game that enables real beginners to get moving for their wellbeing whilst working as part of a team.   

In the summer we try to target performers from all backgrounds to engage in our cage cricket programme and have invited many schools to play mini festivals. These have included many students with less parental and family support and those who are EAL who previously would not have been able to access cricket due to limitations with equipment, time and understanding of the game. 

We give out a cuddly toy called ‘badger of the week’ for the child who tries their best and we have non pe teachers acting as role models, such as local cricket legend Mr Handley. This helped us develop enhanced relationships with our young people.

Inclusive Team Festivals

Jon - We have set up and run many Inclusive Teams festivals in a range of sports such as football, netball, rugby and cricket for what would traditionally be your B and C teams. These are designed to engage those students who do not get access to these sports elsewhere in order to enhance their mental and physical well being. 

These have ended up being our favourite fixtures and it has been amazing to take a team from a wide range of backgrounds and witness their fun and enjoyment as they work together with their peers and form new memories and friendships. These students are forever asking when the next competition is.

Along with the smash ups in football we run 3 other teams per year group so in total we get approximately 85 boys per year group playing football at various points in the year and Lauren has 3 netball teams in Year 7 doing the same.

Psychological Safe Sport

Jon - Lauren and Miss Norton run a Girls Active club. This is for any girls on a Wednesday after school to exercise in a psychologically safe environment. They have access to all facilities led by Year 10 Sports Leaders with 3 teachers supporting. We usually have 40+ students across Y7-10.  We recently had a rewards trip to our local bowling alley for those who come more frequently to reward them for their efforts.

In addition, the sports hall is always open before school, breaktime and lunchtime for children to come in and self-regulate through Basketball. 

Wider School Impact

Jon -  The Trauma Informed PE course has helped us to have a greater focus on prioritising relationships to create the protective factors from Adverse Childhood Experiences particularly with our more challenging classes.

I have really appreciated since starting the programme just how important it is to focus on building and maintaining positive relationships with young people.

This is evident within my tough form group who struggle to avoid getting into trouble around school and have more behaviour points than any other form in school. I strive to keep my relationship positive with each and every one of the form and every day ensure that I am a smiling and happy adult.

I know that there are many students in my form who need plenty of TLC on a regular basis and I know that if at any point I cannot retain a positive persona with some of the harder to reach students our relationship will deteriorate and I will end up either sending them out of form or very quickly they will opt out of form time altogether. 

Wellbeing check ins in form times

Jon: I have built in wellbeing check ins into form time on a regular basis and found some really surprising examples of those students who are currently finding life difficult for various reasons.

Without these check ins I would have been none the wiser about some of the struggles and trauma that my form group had experienced. After a check in, I would say that I have perceived an instant visible improvement in body language in those students who have rated themselves as struggling as they have been able to take a massive step towards talking about their issues with a trusted adult. This is after simply raising their hand anonymously during form time.

Once I have caught up with the student I have been able to be more understanding and accommodating of their needs moving forward and have been able to share with wider staff members where appropriate. This has really helped to strengthen relationships within my form group.

Measuring Impact

Lauren - We have used the School Wellbeing Scorecard to track how our wellbeing provision has improved over the years since partnering with Future Action.

These are our results from June 2022

Compared to now:

As you can see we have improved our provision considerably to support and inspire our brilliant young people.

Next Steps

Lauren - We aim to develop our programme further by running a Sprowston RISE Up mental wellbeing day as part of our activities week for 100 Year 9&10 children in partnership wih Future Action. 

We are collaborating with one of our feeder primaries, Woodland View Junior School, to enhance our young people’s transition experience as part of the Norfolk CC RISE Up Transition pilot. 

Finally, we are going to train more of our staff in Trauma Informed PE principles as we move forward.

Proud Leaders

James Panayi, Sprowston's inspirational Head of PE said:

‘I am immensely proud of the work we as a PE team do for all our students. I am fortunate to have a PE team that is always looking for ways they can engage students and make them feel more included in PE and school sport. 

The exciting thing is that we are only just scratching the surface of what is possible in PE in terms of helping students’ feeling of belonging and psychological wellbeing.  The RISE up initiative is supporting schools and young people to move forward and make a difference in their school experience.  We look forward to what the future holds partnering with Future Action.’

Jenny Kitson-Cook, Sprowston's brilliant Deputy Headteacher added:

'Relationships at Sprowston Community Academy are at the core of every teacher's daily practice. The programme delivery being embedded into the PE curriculum allows an enhanced reinforcement of our whole school priorities linked around restorative practice, the STEPS approach and emotion coaching.

Sprowston Community Academy has an extremely varied demographic so the RISE Up programme complements our students significantly in being inclusive for all, particularly taking into account adverse childhood experiences.

Our PE staff at Sprowston go above and beyond to provide pupils the opportunity to flourish regardless of their PE ability and for that we are very proud. The team combined with the RISE UP programme have enhanced wellbeing for both staff and pupils.'

Thank You Inspirational Teachers

At Future Action, we want to thank the brilliant PE team at Sprowston who go above and beyond for their young people every single day.  They are fantastic role models and we love partnering with them and many similar teachers across the country who show what can be possible in a post-lockdown education world. 

We would also like to thank Norfolk County Council for funding our programmes for all secondary and special schools in Norfolk to protect vital school budgets.  

If you are a teacher in a Norfolk Secondary and Special School and would like to access our RISE Up Wellbeing or Trauma Informed PE courses then please get in touch here.

Do you want to improve your students' wellbeing?

Take the first steps here by completing our 'School Wellbeing Scorecard here.

This action will help you map your school's wellbeing provision in 3 minutes and identify the key areas to focus on for your setting.

You will receive a personalised report and a complimentary login to our taster ‘RISE Up’ course.  Here you will be able to experience Step 1 and 2 of our 9 Step RISE Up teacher training course. 

Join our waiting list

We offer a range of services from courses, consultancy, keynote speaking and our upcoming book 'Time to RISE Up'.

To express an interest in exploring building a partnership with us, join our waiting list here:

Have a brilliant week and enjoy your well deserved half term break.

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