Festival News: reflections on the session by Jenny Mosley

Published: 10 September 2020
Louise McArdle (Learn Sheffield) and Ian Read (session chair and HT of Watercliffe Meadow Primary School) reflect on Jenny's session: The role of listening and empathy in COVID Recovery.
  • Ian Read (session chair and HT Watercliffe Meadow Primary School)

A unique and energetic session with a bit of mindfulness thrown in. Jenny's session focuses on the importance of whole school listening systems and how you can set them up at an individual, non-verbal and class level.  There are lots of tips for running quality class circle times. The session starts with 'bin it, bag it, bring it', a simple mantra to help children and adults deal with anxieties, worries and life's daily ambushes.


Another key focus of the session is the importance of taking responsibility for your own well-being and practically how you can do that, even in term time.  It is difficult to be an empathetic, listening adult if you are not taking good care of yourself.


  • Louise McArdle (Learn Sheffield Improvement Partner):

Jenny Mosley’s session on the role of listening and empathy was packed with important messages and ideas about how to ensure that schools are focusing on making sure that everyone in the school community feels safe, secure and listened to.

She reminded us, that as leaders and teachers, we need to first and foremost have empathy for ourselves. She emphasised that we can’t really listen to the children if we haven’t been able to clear our mind ourselves first. One way we can do this is through practising mindfulness.


Jenny shared three techniques which we can use as adults and with children to help us to clear our minds and be ready to talk and listen to each other.


These are:

·         Bin It! Think of whatever has upset you and if it can’t be changed then just ‘bin’ that information. With children we can get them to draw this or write it and then physically throw it away.

·         Bag Up! If it is something that can’t be binned but we can’t talk about it right now, then we can bag and zip it up until it is the right time to talk about the problem.

·         Bring it! We are all responsible for our good mood.  The best way to get into a good mood is by doing mindfulness exercises. Both teachers and children need to practise mindfulness as adults.

For children who find it difficult to talk in front of a group, schools could use strategies such as bubble time, golden listening tokens, worry boxes etc to help children to talk about a worry they have, particularly in light of Covid.

Jenny also stressed how important it was to be an authentic listening school and to ensure that we put circle time activities very much as part of our planned PHSE timetable each week and not just use them as ad hoc sessions.

Jenny introduced the idea of ‘5 Wells’. There is an adult and child version. The 5 wells are:

Spiritual well, Physical well, Intellectual Well, Creative Well and Emotional Well. Altogether this spells SPICE, which we all need to live healthy, fulfilled lives. Jenny reminded us all of the importance of incorporating the 5 wells into our everyday lives, not just leaving them to the holiday periods.

Jenny then introduced the child friendly version of the 5 wells which is aimed at a child’s level. She reiterated how important it is to incorporate these into circle time activities.

Ian Reed, Headteacher at Watercliff Primary School, talked about how he has incorporated the idea of the 5 wells into his staff appraisals. Each year, staff create a care plan and have a buddy who will help them to achieve the targets on their care plan. The school then supports them with any aspect of the care plan. Small achievable targets are the best way to ensure we look after our wellbeing.

Jenny shared resources which she has produced during lockdown to help schools with circle time activities.  (See jennym@jennymosley.co.uk and www.circle-time.co.uk

Jenny finished by reminding us all that in these uncertain times, humour and the quality of human relationships are vital. If we keep positive and focus on ensuring that both ourselves and the children are keeping well through the 5 wells approach, we  will be in a far stronger position  and children will be much more motivated to learn and to deal positively with the challenges ahead.

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