About Pyramid Clubs
‘Pyramid has had a positive effect on the quiet, withdrawn children in our school. It has made a real difference to their self confidence and the way they interact with other pupils and adults, resulting in noticeably higher standards in their school work.’ Headteacher, Ysgol Y Graig, Anglesey
Developed in the 1970s in the UK, Pyramid clubs for children offer a therapeutic group-work early intervention for children aged 7-14. Normally run as a targeted after-school club in order to minimise stigma and make it accessible to the widest number of children, the clubs run for ten weeks for 1.5 hours a week, offering a developmental journey for those children who internalise their difficulties and are showing early signs of mental health problems such as social withdrawal, somatic disorders, depression and anxiety.
Pyramid clubs have been developed using concepts from two key psychological models: cognitive psychology and positive psychology. The clubs offer children and young people an experiential model of learning about and developing strategies for managing their thoughts and feelings in a supportive environment. Research by Schiffer on the needs of latency-age children and by Kolvin on the value of short-term therapeutic groups for children at risk, both in the 1970s, led to the development of the Pyramid model initially. Pyramid adopts early-intervention principles, working with children at the early signs of problems developing, rather than waiting for full-blown mental health difficulties to develop.
Since 2004, when statistics were more comprehensively collected, over 33,000 have attended Pyramid clubs across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, supported by over 8,000 club leaders. Pyramid was one of the interventions included in the guidance on suitable Children’s Fund projects when that fund was introduced in England in 2000 as a means of targeting vulnerable children, and many areas running the Targeted Mental Health in Schools project (TaMHS) from 2008-11 also introduced or funded local Pyramid projects. Since its introduction, Pyramid has run at some point in 48 local authority areas in England, ten in Wales and across most of Northern Ireland. Pyramid is run on an authority-wide basis in Cardiff, Cornwall, Slough, Bracknell Forest, Rochdale and Lincolnshire among others.
Pyramid clubs are specially designed for children in schools who are quiet, shy, anxious, isolated, withdrawn or finding it difficult to make friends. They operate as a group based early intervention which provides children with a fun, positive experience, in a group, with lots of new experiences and chances to develop friendships. Pyramid clubs:
- involve fun games, cooking, circle time discussion and art and craft activities.
- enable children and young people to deal better with the difficulties they face and avoid developing more serious mental health problems
- reduce disengagement and promote participation in learning, thereby maximising attainment
- are run by fully trained, often volunteer, club leaders.
Pyramid clubs usually run on a school site but can be run within the community. Pyramid clubs:
- run after school for an hour and a half
- take place once a week for ten weeks during the school term.
- run in primary schools, either at the transition to key stage 2 or at the end of primary to prepare children for the move to secondary schools (transition clubs)
- also run in secondary schools.
- operate in over 40 local authority areas across the UK.
Many children and young people who experience social and emotional problems internalise their difficulties and often struggle to build friendships. Pyramid is a well-established, cost-effective and extensively evaluated early intervention model of working with quiet, shy, withdrawn or anxious children.
The outcomes for children and young people attending Pyramid clubs have been identified as:
- improved self-esteem
- improved self-awareness and awareness of impact on others
- improved locus of control (internal rather than external) leading to better self-motivation and participation
- better peer relationships
- improved relationships with adults
- increased resilience through the development of coping skills and problem-solving ability
- development of key skills in emotional regulation and self-soothing
- improved school attainment through reduced anxiety, a more positive attitude towards school, better attendance and more participation in class.
In addition to clubs for children, Pyramid also offers a complementary or standalone model of support for parents/carers through our Pyramid for Parent programme.
For more information visit the Pyramid for Parents section.
Pyramid was initially developed by Kay FitzHerbert, a social worker on an Educational Priority Area project attached to a high school and its feeder primaries in the London borough of Ealing, in the 1970s. Two key elements of the Pyramid model are now in the forefront of national thinking – children’s emotional well-being and multi-agency working – and Pyramid continues to prosper as a result.
In 2007 the Pyramid project became a part of ContinYou.
Take a look at our Pyramid video to find out what parents, children and teachers think about Pyramid.