Equine Therapy - Case Study
Whitefield School is situated in the London Borough of Barnet and has a very diverse intake. Whitefield, a ‘good school’
with ‘outstanding leadership and management’, has a strong reputation for embracing innovative teaching approaches in order to engage students and enrich their learning experiences. The school was allocated a sum of money from the Barnet Virtual School which aimed to make Barnet schools more ‘attachment friendly.’
The challenge for the school was to support targeted young people who presented with a range of complex needs, which were having a negative impact on attainment, wellbeing and school attendance.
The school decided to focus on Year 8 students to take part in the equine therapy. Although discussions took place about having students from other year groups, it was felt that additional group dynamics would add an unnecessary variable. Eight students took part, selected by the inclusion team based on individual student needs. The focus was on those students who had found it more difficult to settle into secondary school, whose emotional wellbeing had been raised as a concern by staff and parents, who did not have any previous experience of therapeutic intervention and who were willing to take part in the intervention. An initial baseline self-assessment to measure confidence, wellbeing and self-esteem was carried out. The school also had entry data for attainment and attendance. The eight students attended an 8 week programme (3 hours for one day each week) supported by 2 members of staff at ‘Strength in Horses’ in Edgware. The equine therapy was facilitated by a clinical psychologist and horse professionals, who completed goals based outcome measure with each student.
Feedback from students, teachers and parents of all those involved clearly indicated that all the students had embraced the therapy and that it had a positive impact on their attitude to school and to themselves. All of the students showed at least a 4 point increase in the outcome measures which were scored on a 0-10 scale (on areas such as communication with others, confidence, taking the lead, being more confident, able to express thoughts and feelings). The attendance for the sessions were excellent, and the success of the project has meant that it continued into 2016/17.