Alison Waterhouse an experienced and well-regarded Wellbeing Lead, Headteacher and Educational Psychotherapist has developed the project over the past 8 years.

Alison created the Circles for Learning project in primary schools in East Sussex where she led and developed this innovative way of working. The project was developed as a way of building positive foundations for mental health and wellbeing for CYP and also as a way to extend staff knowledge and understanding in this area.

Alison trains and supports Teachers in how to use parent and young child observation sessions in the classroom, to engage Children and Young People and develop the five key areas that promote positive mental health and wellbeing.

Teachers who choose Circles for Learning are as exciting and unique as the project itself. They are looking for something special that supports the development of positive mental health in a way that is exciting and ignites children’s interest. They are teachers who believe that their classroom is an ideal environment to support the development of social and emotional learning as well as academic learning and that relationships are at the core of everything they do.

Circles for Learning offers schools the opportunity to develop a proactive approach to supporting Children and Young People’s mental health and wellbeing with prevention at the core. It offers interactive online training, coaching for staff developing the project, exciting easy to use resources with evidence based impact.


As colleagues became aware of her work they asked to become involved. This interest led Alison to set up the Primary Research Project for 5 schools in East Sussex. Alison worked closely with each of the class teacher’s enabling them to both design and develop the project to meet the needs of the children within their own school environments. Alison was very clear that the project needed to meet the needs of the children and their teachers and therefore would be slightly different in each school setting. It was not designed as a manualised project but as a flexible way of working that would grow and develop with those who chose to introduce it.

Following on from the Primary Research project Alison worked alongside an Executive Headteacher who wished to introduce the project across her two rural primary schools. She requested that all staff undertook the training which included:

• Attachment neuroscience and learning.
• Emotional literacy and emotional barriers to learning.
• Understanding development of self.
• Skills for learning.

The impact across both schools was considerable for both staff and children. To read more about the impact in both primary and secondary schools: Research Report

Due to the interest of professionals in the Secondary field Alison decided to undertake a MA in Educational Research looking at the impact of Circles for Learning in 5 different secondary school environments.

To read about the research in more detail click the Circles for Learning tab and find the Research section. In here you will find the Research Projects in School Report which details each of the projects and the impact that they had on children, staff and the school as a whole.