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Behaviour Approach - MindUp and Thrive

Gascoigne School is committed to the development of children’s social and emotional well-being. We know that secure social and emotional well-being will allow children to find happiness and develop positive relationships. It will also allow them to have the concentration and focus to learn, and the resilience to overcome problems. Good mental health is crucial to good learning and life outcomes. If we are unhappy or worried we will struggle to build and maintain relationships, learn or cope with problems. If we can’t understand and control our emotions we can’t control our behaviour or access learning.

In order to develop positive emotional and social well-being for all our children the school has introduced the MindUp curriculum.

The MindUp curriculum is based on scientific and educational research and aims to:

  • Teach children the skills and knowledge to regulate their stress and emotions.
  • Help children form positive relationships and act with kindness and compassion.
  • Enhance a child’s ability for success in learning and life.

In order to understand their minds and behaviour the children are taught about the brain, particularly 3 parts of the brain:

The amygdala, seen as the guard dog, is the emotional part of the brain that controls our survival instinct, to fight, flight or freeze when feeling threatened.

The pre-fontal cortex is the wise owl, the thinking part of our brain which controls our problems solving and our morals.

The hippocampus is the elephant, the memory part of our brain.

When someone feels threatened or upset the amygdala floods the brain and stops us from thinking clearly, like the guard dog scaring away the owl and the elephant. It is therefore important that when someone is upset they are given time to calm down before talking through a problem.

In our classrooms we have reflection areas where children can go to calm down. You might want to have a calming area in your home, or a small box of calming activities that your child has chosen.

Strategies for calming the amygdala might be:

  • Deep breathing
  • Going for a walk
  • Focusing on another activity for a while.
  • Watching an amygdala bottle.

The children learn about these strategies and about mindful awareness. Mindulness helps develop concentration and focus, and positive social relationships.

Examples of mindful behaviour:

  • Focusing on what the teacher is saying, even when there is noise outside.
  • Seeing someone is on their own in the playground and going to talk to them.

Examples of unmindful behaviour:

  • Doodling whilst the teacher is talking.
  • Dropping rubbish on the floor.

We hope that you will encourage the children to use their calming strategies and mindful activities at home.

Why not go to the MindUp website for more information and activities you can try at home


In addition to MindUp the school also uses the Thrive approach. This enables us to make early identification of emotional developmental needs in children and put appropriate provision in place. Just as early identification of reading difficulties can enable children to make better progress and engage with learning, so will early identification of emotional needs. Addressing emotional developmental needs through Thrive builds resilience and resourcefulness, decreases the risk of mental illness and helps those children at risk of underachieving to re-engage with learning.

Thrive and MindUp follow the same brain science and the same recognition that positive relationships and connections are crucial to our brain development and well-being.

Get in touch

Gascoigne Primary School Gascoigne Road, Barking, Essex, IG11 7DR

Gascoigne Shaftesburys, Shaftesburys, Barking, Essex, IG11 7JA

020 8270 4291