Christchurch Infant School

Thrive and Theraplay

We use an attachment centred approach at school, recognising the affect of significant relational traumas and losses in the children’s lives and the importance for all children to feel safe, secure and special, in order to become the best versions of themselves.

As an Attachment Lead in the South West, our Deputy Headteacher, Mrs Simpson advocates and works alongside children who have experienced significant relational traumas and losses in their lives to promote positivity, self-confidence and resilience, enabling them to make the most of their time in school. Mrs Simpson has recently completed a five-day Theraplay Level 1 and Group Therapy course, which, alongside Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy Level 1, combines the approaches to develop attachment aware practice within the school community and classes her as a Gold Trauma Informed Practitioner.

As Pastoral Lead, Thrive practitioner and Senior Mental health lead Mrs Goldsack works alongside staff to support the children’s emotional, social and mental wellbeing both in a whole class setting, small groups or individually based on the children’s needs.


The Thrive Approach has been developed over many years, helping children to flourish. It supports children's emotional and social development and helps them to feel happy and secure, be able to enjoy friendships, relate well to others and be ready and able to learn.

Thrive is a special way of working with all children, that helps to develop their social and emotional wellbeing, enabling them to engage with life and learning. It supports them in becoming more self-assured, capable and adaptable. It can also address any troubling behaviours, providing a firm foundation for academic attainment.


A Theraplay Group is structured for children and directed by adult leaders. During the group, all the participants, adults included, are actively involved together in pleasant, enjoyable activities. Through the use of cooperative and often nurturing games, a Theraplay Group enhances a child’s self-esteem, the sense of belonging, the ability to trust and to care for self and others. Leaders create an atmosphere of fun, caring, acceptance, and encouragement which allows children to grow socially, emotionally, and often intellectually as well.

Playful and responsive care are the essential ingredients for a secure attachment and positive views of ourselves and others.

Theraplay has four key areas:

Structure: An adult takes charge and the child accepts this.

Engagement: The child is focused upon intensely and learns to manage this without withdrawing.

Nurture: Soothing, calming activities help the child to feel loved.

Challenge: Fun, partnership activities that include mild, appropriate risk.

Key Events

Attachment Network

Takes place on the 2nd Monday of each half term


Our ‘Attachment Focused Group’, is specifically aimed at supporting Adopted Parents, Foster Carers and Special Guardians. 

The aim is ultimately for you to get to know each other and share strategies that have worked and support that you have accessed and utilised. Alongside this, we will share some Theraplay games and ideas to support your children. During this time, we will discuss any areas you would like to cover, or have information on, in forthcoming meetings.

All Feelings Great and Small

Takes place on the 2nd Tuesday of each half term


The aim of this group is to support parents/carers of children who are finding it difficult to navigate their own feelings and emotions, which, through our work in school, we understand that can be for so many reasons.    

Some of the quotes from our work include the following:

"I attended the session with an open mind, as I was not sure what to expect and whether it would be relevant to me and my little one. However, I was wrong. The session was very informative and insightful for children’s mental wellbeing and both Mrs Simpson and Mrs Goldsack gave us ideas for Theraplay games and ways in which we can help our little ones when they have their meltdowns. 

I will be attending the next session and will be putting what I learnt and the knowledge and understanding I have gained from it into practice, both personally and professionally".  

"Firstly, thank you for the chance to come in this morning and spend time with you both. I know how precious your time is, it is much appreciated that you take the time to spend with parents" . 

A name that I thought of is “All feelings, great and small” – child mindfulness workshop

"I really found the session, not only helpful and a safe place to speak, but eye opening too. All children, grown ups and families are different and the meeting was helpful to show ways that techniques and approaches can help children of any age and family set up".

"I will 100% be taking on board what was shared and implementing it at home. I feel that Christchurch Infant School is very lucky to have such a wonderful team of staff and teachers. Not only for the educational aspects of my child’s needs but their emotional and mental needs too. In a world where so many things are uncertain, and at times unsafe and scary, I have peace of mind that my child is being taken care of and feels as safe as possible while at the school setting."  

"The meeting was relaxed, welcoming and reassuring. Ideas were shared amongst the parents and teachers, and it made me feel understood and supported. I look forward to attending again, to meet more parents and share more concerns, techniques, and experiences".

 "I feel so comfortable here. Everything is how it should be, like a warm sunny day" (pupil comment)