Observation and reflective workshop model

The Mulberry Bush model is designed for schools and other settings who are struggling to find a way forward with individual children.

These children may be displaying very challenging behaviour, finding learning difficult, disrupting learning of others and may perhaps even be at risk of exclusion. This is informed by our experience at The Mulberry Bush School of working with children who have experienced trauma and the emotional impact this can have on staff working alongside them.

What is the observation and workshop model?

The model is rooted in understanding behaviour as communication, reflective practice approaches and developing collaborative working.

We know from research (Earl and Timperley, 20081) that collaborative enquiry (e.g. in a network setting) consistently delivers improvements in learning outcomes for students as well as teachers. Our approach helps staff to understand what children may be communicating about their emotional needs through their behaviour, and how to use that understanding to develop helpful ways to respond to that communication.

  • An initial phone consultation with one of our team to determine if this model is the best fit for the individual child’s and the setting’s needs. This is free of charge.
  • One of our team will run a training session with a member/s of the SLT/management on reflective observation skills and how these may differ from a typical observation. This will focus on how the child relates to staff, peers, the task, and the environment with specific focus being given to the behavioural communication. This will take around one hour.
  • The member/s of SLT/management will carry out the observation/s on the child. This should be around two hours in duration.
  • The observation will then be written up by the member/s of SLT/management. This will highlight key points, and raise questions for team discussion, whilst supporting possible next steps and opportunities for development. At this stage the member of staff can meet with a member from our team for support and to review the observation write up. This session can be up to an hour long, our team members are also available via email contact should there be any further questions.
    The observation when finalised should be shared with the team working directly alongside the child. At no stage should staff feel this is an observation judging their ability, this is a supportive structure to develop the schools ability to work alongside behaviours which challenge them.
  • Following this there will be two online reflective workshop sessions led by a member of our team, these will take place on a three weekly basis. This creates a safe space enabling each participant to have a voice, and to speak openly and honestly about their experience of working with the child. Everyone is encouraged to contribute something of the challenges they have faced, and be encouraged to consider associated feelings. The six stages of a crisis structure will be used to aid the discussion and record responses and ideas. This process develops a shared understanding of the child’s needs.
  • Should staff groups require/request further reflective workshops these can be added onto the process at a later stage (at an additional cost)

This model can in run in person or virtually


1 Earl et al., 2008. Professional Learning Conversations: Challenges in Using Evidence for Improvement edited by Lorna M. Earl, Helen Timperley., Dordrecht: Springer.

How to book

For more details please contact Kathy Smith on 01865 594700 or email [email protected]

‘This was the main turning point in the use of the positive/nurturing approach to supporting social, emotional and mental health now in place.’

Former participant