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Key overview details
- Conduct Problems
- Prosocial behaviour
- Supporting Behavioural Challenges
- Promoting Emotional Wellbeing
- Anxiety / Worry / Stress
- Emotion Regulation / Emotional literacy
- Self Esteem / Resilience
- Adjustment to life events (including separation or loss)
- Parent-child relationship / Attachment
- Social Skills / Positive Peer Relationship
- Supporting Positive Relationships
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) / Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
- Autism Spectrum
- Learning Disabilities
- Preschool: 3 to 5 years
- Primary school: 6 to 12 years
- Show only programmes known to have been implemented in Scotland
Zippy’s Friends is a universal school based social emotional learning (SEL) programme for 5-7-year-old children across the full range of socio-economic levels including children with additional learning needs in mainstream education. The programme can also be delivered as a targeted intervention for vulnerable children such as Young Carers or Looked after Children and can be delivered on a one to one basis. The programme promotes mental health and emotional well-being, teaching young children how to cope with anxieties and difficulties in order that they can be better able to handle problems and crises in adolescence and later life. The programme is designed to be delivered in the classroom by a trained teacher, is story based with 24 sessions of 45 minutes. The six themes taught include Feelings, Communication, Friendship, Conflict, Change and Loss and, Moving Forward.
Research has demonstrated that Zippy’s Friends has shown improvements in self-management and social skills including children with special educational needs.
The programme, developed by Partnership for Children, originated in the Canada, Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands and has been implemented across 32 countries internationally and piloted across 22 schools in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland.
Service Provider Website: https://www.partnershipforchildren.org.uk/
Zippy’s Friends is a universal school based social emotional learning (SEL) programme for 5-7-year-old children across the full range of socio-economic levels including children with additional learning needs in mainstream education. The programme can also be delivered as a targeted intervention for vulnerable children such as Young Carers or Looked after Children and can be delivered on a one to one basis. The programme aims to improve children’s coping skills, social skills and emotional literacy, improve the class climate and reduce bullying.
The programme promotes mental health and emotional well-being teaching young children skills for life including how to cope with their anxieties and difficulties in order that they can be better able to handle problems and crises in adolescence and later life. Zippy’s Friends is designed to be delivered by a trained teacher supported by a learning support assistant. The programme is story based with 24 sessions of 45 minutes each, which include engaging activities, listening to stories, discussion, games, role-play and drawing.
The six themes taught include (1) Feelings, (2) Communication, (3) Friendship, (4) Conflict, (5) Change and Loss and, (6) Moving Forward which are required to be taught in order as the skills build upon one another. The themes are supported by six modules and a story associated with each. The underpinning stories cover (1) Full of Feelings (2) My Favourite Things (3) Are you my Friend (4) Beating Bullying (5) Saying Goodbye and, (6) We Cope. Each story incorporates four sessions.
Zippy’s Friends is clearly operationalised and includes a well-structured, comprehensive teacher’s folder including teacher guidance, module booklets and full lesson/session plans, posters, pictures to accompany stories, activity sheets, children’s items required to deliver the sessions and homebased activity resources. The resource folder also includes a class certificate and a school certificate for display at the school Reception.
The programme session plans are designed to be delivered as part of primary school education and within Scottish schools the programme has the potential to fit with the Scottish Government’s Health and Well-being curriculum, supporting schools to achieve Health and Well-Being outcomes of the Curriculum for Excellence and the Well-being (SHANNARI) outcomes of Getting it Right for Every Child (GIRFEC).
In order to effectively replicate the programme all elements of the core programme are to be implemented in the order prescribed. This is supported by (1) standardised materials including a teacher’s manual and folder of resources (2) standardised training (3) lesson/session plans and home practice activities and, (4) evaluation using a pre- and post-outcomes questionnaire to measure children’s progress and an observation checklist to measure implementation.
All core elements of the programme are strongly recommended for implementation and programme lessons can be integrated into the school day dependent upon the teacher’s schedule. During training teachers are encouraged to think about adaptation and differentiation for their classes. The lesson plans include teacher prompts to encourage teachers to adapt activities to fit the context, this is dependent on the teaching staff’s awareness of the community’s history and ability to adapt the resources appropriately.
The activities and stories are suitable for children of aged 5 -7 years of all abilities however, teachers can use the inclusion supplement to choose from a variety of activities for children with additional needs. The applicable age group of children 5-7 years is a guide from the developer, the programme can also be used for younger children i.e. those aged 4 in Primary One – an approach that has been adopted in the pilot across Dumfries and Galloway schools.
The programme has been translated into Arabic, Bulgarian, Chinese (traditional and simplified), Czech, Danish, Dutch, French, Icelandic, Konkani, Korean, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (Brazil and Portugal), Russian, Slovak, Spanish.
Zippy’s Friends was developed by Partnership for Children based in England. Support for implementation is provided by Partnership for Children and/or local Licensed Trainers/coordinators.
Support for Organisation / Practice
Partnership for Children and/or local Licensed Trainers/coordinators can provide ongoing support with implementation after initial training in the form of one-to-one phone/email support, sharing of good practice and programme developments through newsletters and social media and remote support meetings. The teacher training and resources also aim to support teachers with engaging parents/carers and other school staff in the programme to support a whole school approach with links to home.
Within the UK a license to deliver Zippy’s Friends is not required however Zippy’s Friends cannot be purchased as an off the shelf programme. To deliver the programme and to use of all Partnership for Children materials is subject to completion of training. For international Non-Profit Agencies (NPA) outside the UK, a license is required prior to being trained as trainers. License fees for NPA agencies are negotiated dependent on the size of the NPA and estimated reach of the country. As part of the license agreement, agencies are responsible for translating and producing the materials for the programme and training teachers in their country.
Start-up costs include teacher training and programme resources. Online training is available at a cost of £40 per participant, in-house training for all staff can also be purchased, the cost of which is variable dependent on the area and type of training required. Online access to programme resources/materials is available at a cost of £160, one whole class set of physical resources for children, including teacher manual, can be purchased at a cost of £325 (physical sets are optional). Purchase of training includes ongoing support.
Ongoing costs include the top up of children’s resources annually (optional) available at a cost of £150 per class.
Building Staff Competency
Partnership for Children recommend that the programme is delivered by qualified teachers who can be supported by learning support assistants. As determined by each school, Learning Support Assistants can, where appropriate, deliver the programme.
Training is available as a 2.5-hour online training session. The training seeks to explore the background and theory behind the programme, children’s wellbeing, the structure and content of the programme and practical activities and group discussions to support effective implementation. A certificate is provided upon completion of the training.
There are no supervision or coaching requirements for this programme. There is no specific training for supervisors.
Theory of Change
Zippy’s Friends is based upon the Theory of Coping – how we respond to difficulties and stress. Partnership for Children believe that by developing coping skills, children are better able to adapt to situations in the future which will improve their wellbeing. Development of coping skills is dependent on children’s ability to identify and communicate their feelings. By developing social relationships, children can draw on their social network to help them cope. The overall outcomes this programme aims to achieve have overlapping relationships for example improved social and emotional skills are in turn expected to improve social behaviour and conduct. Social emotional learning (SEL) skills support effective problem solving which in turn can help with learning behaviours and ultimately academic attainment. Academic attainment is influenced by classroom management and teacher-pupil relationships which are found to improve through SEL practices.
Preschool: 3 to 5 years - Rating: 4+
Research Design & Number of Studies
One randomised control trial (RCT) of Zippy’s Friends, undertaken externally to the programme developer was identified. The study population included children aged 5 to 9 years (n=807 pupils) across 14 schools.
- Significant differences between the experimental group and the control group in self-management and social skills. (Zufnicek, J. et al., 2016).
- For children with special educational needs (SEN), significant progress was made in the monitored areas which approximated to the children without any identified diagnosis compared to the control group in which the children with SEN remained far behind the rest of the class. (Zufnicek, J. et al 2016).
- No parent outcomes were identified.
Zufnicek J., Gricova J., Belacek J., Dosoudil P., Cermakova M., & Papezova H. (2016) Evaluation Report of Zippy’s Friends Program in the Czech Republic. Supported by Norway Grants.
Primary school: 6 to 12 years - Rating: 4+
Research Design & Number of Studies
The best available evidence for children aged 6-12 years comes from three Randomised Controlled Trials (RCT) undertaken externally to the programme developer and one cluster Randomised Control Trial undertaken in collaboration with the programme developer.
The study populations included study 1: children aged 7 to 8 years (n=766 pupils) across 44 schools; study 2: children aged 7 to 8 years (n= 1,483 pupils) across 35 schools; study 3: children aged 5 to 9 years (n=807 pupils) across 14 schools; study 4: children aged 6-7 years (n=1,117 pupils) across 29 schools.
- Significant improvements in self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation and social skills at post-intervention and maintained at 12-months compared with the control group (Clarke, et al., 2014).
- Significant differences between the experimental group and the control group in self-management and social skills. (Zufnicek, et al., 2016).
- For children with special educational needs (SEN), significant progress was made in the monitored areas which approximated to the children without any identified diagnosis compared to the control group in which the children with SEN remained far behind the rest of the class. (Zufnicek, et al., 2016).
- Significant reduction in oppositional coping strategies and significant increase (parent reported) in active coping strategies in the intervention group compared to the control group (Holen, et al., 2012).
- Significant decrease in mental health difficulties (teacher reported) in the intervention group compared to the control group (Holen, et al., 2012).
- Significant positive impact on children’s social, emotional and behavioural outcomes (parent and children reported) which included results from the child-self report measures indicating a significant improvement in children’s emotional recognition skills and adaptive coping skills. (Trimbos Institute, 2016).
- No parent outcomes were identified.
- Clarke, A.M., Buntings, B., & Barry. M.M. (2014) Evaluating the implementation of a school-based emotional well-being programme: a cluster randomized controlled trial of Zippy’s Friends for children in disadvantaged primary schools. Health Education Research. 29 (5). pp.786-798.
- Holen, S., Waaktaar, T., Ola Lervag, A.L., & Ystgaard, M. (2012). The effectiveness of a universal schoolbased programme on coping and mental health: a randomised, controlled study of Zippy’s Friends. Educational Psychology: An International Journal of Experimental Educational Psychology. 1-21.
- Zufnicek J., Gricova J., Belacek J., Dosoudil P., Cermakova M., & Papezova H. (2016). Evaluation Report of Zippy’s Friends Program in the Czech Republic. Supported by Norwary Grants.
- An evaluation of the Zippy’s Friends and Apple’s Friends programmes. (2016). The Trimbos Institute, Netherlands Institute of Mental Health and Addiction.
Zippy’s Friends exemplifies Partnership for Children’s values with a vision of a world in which the development of mental health and emotional resilience is part of life for every child – at home, at school and in the community. Zippy’s Friends focuses on promoting the development of children’s mental health and well-being in the school and home setting with the introduction of social emotional learning (SEL), teaching young children and parents how to cope with anxieties and difficulties in order that they can be better able to handle problems and crises in adolescence and later life.
- Is promoting social emotional learning in the school and home setting and supporting the development of children’s mental health align with the key values of your service/organisation?
Zippy’s Friends fosters improving mental health and well-being in the primary school and home setting underpinned by a culture of coping. The programme prioritises providing children with the skills (social emotional learning) they need to become caring, confident, capable learners and problem-solvers to improve their chances of social and academic success and to be able to deal with problems and challenges later in life.
- Is a prevention approach aimed at helping increase children’s social emotional competence a priority for your service?
- Is providing children with the skills they need to improve their chances of social and academic success a priority for your service?
- Is helping teachers and parents understand children’s behaviour a priority for your organisation?
- Does your service already provide prevention programmes aiming to improve children’s mental health outcomes and coping strategies?
- Does your area have teachers trained in delivering Zippy’s Friends?
- Do you have links with CAMHS, Adult Mental Health Services and Child Protection Services to refer onto if required?
Zippy’s Friends should be delivered by a trained primary school teacher with help from a learning support assistant (not compulsory). As determined by each school, Learning Support Assistants can, where appropriate, deliver the programme.
- Do you have enough qualified teachers and learning support assistants available to commit to undertake training?
- Do you have enough qualified teachers and learning support assistants available to commit to delivering the full extent of this programme?
To implement Zippy’s Friends, from a technology perspective, requires minimal technological resources. However, there are optional PowerPoint or Smartboard activities that are assigned to some of the teaching sessions that will require online access. Online training also requires technology that enables web access to teaching, resources, and streaming.
- Do you have access to adequate technology to support teachers to effectively undertake training online and to access the optional teaching elements of the programme?
Teacher preparation for each session is minimal requiring only printing, photocopying and cutting up of resources in advance of each session and one home activity prepared and sent home per module.
- Do you have enough administrative capacity to meet these needs?
To deliver Zippy’s Friends requires one off training for teachers at a cost of £40 per participant (in-house training for all staff can also be purchased the cost of which is variable dependent on the area and type of training required). Online access to programme resources/materials is available at a cost of £160 and one whole class set of physical resources (optional) for children, including a teacher manual, is available at a cost of £325. In addition, the top up of children’s resources annually, again optional, is available at a cost of £150 per class.
- Do you have the finances to purchase the training, programme resources and annual top up of classroom/children’s resources?
The Zippy’s Friends Programme is designed as a universal programme for all school children aged 5-7 years across the full range of socio-economic levels.
Evidence of its effectiveness includes children aged 5 to 9 years including children with special educational needs in Norway. A three-year evaluation of Zippy’s Friends across 8 schools in the Scottish population has also commenced with an expected completion date of 2023.
- Is this comparable to the population you serve?
- Does your organisation have existing contacts with this population?
- Are you likely to receive enough referrals/demand for eligible schools and children to populate a recurring programme of Zippy’s Friends?
Zippy’s Friends is a classroom based preventative programme designed to promote mental health, emotional well-being and aims to improve children’s coping skills, social skills and emotional literacy, improve the class climate and reduce bullying.
Research has identified that the Zippy’s Friends has shown improvements in self-management and social skills including children with special educational needs.
- Are the outcomes of improving children’s coping skills, social skills and emotional literacy aligned with the service intended outcomes?
- Do you have other existing initiatives that would be supportive of addressing this need and achieving these outcomes?
Partnership for Children
26-27 Market Place
Kingston upon Thames
Tel: +44 (2) 20 8974 6004