Information for families
Pyramid clubs are activity clubs that usually run after school for small groups of children. The children are invited to join the club because their teacher (or another worker) believes they would benefit from being involved. At the club, children do lots of fun activities to help them improve their confidence and develop new friendships. In some areas, Pyramid clubs are run by organisations other than schools, but the format is much the same. Clubs usually run once a week for an hour and a half, for ten weeks. Each club follows a similar format (eg in the first week the children choose a name for their club) but will develop differently depending on the wishes of the children, the club leaders, the time of year, the facilities available and so on.
My child has been invited by his/her school to take part in a Pyramid club. Does he/she have to attend?
No – Pyramid clubs are voluntary activities, not part of the statutory curriculum.
No – parents should not be charged for their child to attend a Pyramid club.
Children who go to Pyramid clubs are a very mixed bunch. Some may have special educational needs, but many do not; in fact, some are very high achievers academically. Pyramid children also come from all sorts of ethnic and social backgrounds. The reason they have been offered a place at a club is that their teacher has noticed that they are not always comfortable in a big group – perhaps they get a bit lost in a busy classroom, or they may be new to the school or going through a difficult patch for some reason. As a result, they may not be doing as well in school as they could be, both academically and socially, and they miss out on opportunities as a result. The aim of the club is to give them some breathing space, let them build up their confidence in a smaller group, and then, hopefully, feel better about themselves in the classroom and outside of school.
I like the sound of the club, but I don’t think my child needs additional support. Should I let him/her go to it?
Just like adults, children can be very confident in some situations and not so confident when faced with new situations, a large group of people, or a difficult task. In the comfort of their own home, your child may seem perfectly at ease and confident. However, it might be more difficult for them in school and, unfortunately, they have little choice but to go there! Anything that can be done to make school a happier place for them is probably worth trying. However, you will know your child best and are best placed to decide whether a Pyramid club is going to benefit them. At the very least, Pyramid clubs are fun places to go to, and they will not harm your child in any way.
I’m a bit worried that some of the other children who are going to the Pyramid club have a bit of a reputation, and I don’t think my child has the same sorts of problems as them.
Pyramid clubs are designed for the quieter, less confident child. However, it is not always obvious from behaviour outside of school that a child is quiet in a large group or in a more formal environment. If you have concerns about how the children invited to the club have been chosen, you should speak to your child’s teacher or headteacher in the first instance.
I’d like my child to go to the Pyramid club, as I think he/she would really benefit from it, but he/she seems reluctant. How can I persuade him to try it?
Many children who go to Pyramid clubs are a bit shy and reluctant to push themselves forward. However, the vast majority love the clubs once they do go. Perhaps you could encourage your child to at least give it a go, say for the first two or three weeks, before making a final decision. Once they get involved, it’s likely they’ll want to carry on going. If you speak to the person setting the clubs up, they may be able to speak to your child to encourage them to give it a go, or they may be able to tell you who else will be there that your child might like to be with. It may help if you focus on the positive activities that will be available at the club and stress that the children get to choose a lot of what happens at the club.
In the first week the children get to choose a name for their club and set down some rules for how people will treat each other at the club. The children will be encouraged to suggest ideas for activities to do from week to week. The sorts of things that take place are games (usually team games), preparing and sharing food, arts and crafts, singing, drama, and anything else the children might agree on. One key thing that happens at Pyramid clubs is circle time. Some children will be familiar with circle time from school, but it is both more exciting and less frightening at a Pyramid club. Circle time is used both for games and for exploring issues in a non-threatening way, eg the children may discuss how to tackle bullying, or they may share their worries or concerns with the other children and the leaders. Circle time is also used to share good times (a bit like an older version of show and tell!) and, in the small group, can be a very positive experience for the children.
The club leaders might be school staff, perhaps learning support assistants, family workers or learning mentors. Very occasionally teachers run clubs, or outside organisations’ workers may take part. Many club leaders are volunteers, perhaps students at a local university or college, people who are between jobs or looking to return to work, retired people, or workers from a local business. In some places, older secondary school or 6th form students also get involved in clubs. All volunteer club leaders are vetted on behalf of the school before being allowed to take part in clubs, and they are supervised. The club leaders are there to ensure that the children are safe and have a good time. They receive training to ensure that the children are well-supported at the club. The children will probably call them by their first names.
It is important that, if you have any concerns, you speak to someone sooner rather than later. You could speak to one of the club leaders before the club session or after it, or you could speak to the person who set the clubs up in the school or wherever they are taking place.
There are lots of organisations, websites and books that can help you to support your child. Your child’s school or any other organisation you are involved with may be able to suggest some. Otherwise, your local authority should have a Children’s Information System which you can find out about on their website or at your local library or council offices: this should tell you about activities for your children to take part in locally, or organisations that can offer advice and support. There is a national support organisation for almost every sort of medical condition or behavioural difficulty which your GP practice should be able to help you find if you cannot find it on the internet or through your local library. Pyramid clubs leaders may also be able to give you advice on sources of further support.
Pyramid clubs can often be a stepping stone to other groups for children, but which ones will depend entirely on your child’s interests and what else is available locally. If the club has successfully increased your child’s confidence, he or she may feel up to the challenge of doing something new or with a new group of people. There may be other after-school clubs at your child’s school covering a wide range of activities (sports, languages, homework, gardening, cookery, IT etc); classes or clubs may be advertised at your local library or on local websites; or your child may want to join a more formally organised club like a local sports club, Brownies or Cubs or a children’s group at your place of worship etc.
You can find out more about volunteering in the Volunteer section. Most local Pyramid projects welcome volunteers and the experience you have of your own child will help you to understand and work with other children.
If your school is not already running Pyramid clubs and you think the children would benefit from them, you might like to start by referring someone in the school to this website and especially the section on How Pyramid works. The most appropriate person will probably be the person responsible for co-ordinating the Personal, Social and Health Education within the school, but you can always start with your child’s class teacher or speak directly to the headteacher or a governor.
Pyramid for Parents is a programme that helps adults to support their children. However, it also acts as a sort of Pyramid club for the adults themselves. Some schools that run clubs for children are also able to offer Pyramid for Parents so it’s worth asking at your child’s school. Pyramid for Parents groups are open to parents or carers of children of primary age, whether or not the child goes to a Pyramid club.