Story Links: How working with parents is key to effectiveness

For children who are struggling to make sense of the emotional anxieties they are experiencing, life can be incredibly confusing and bewildering. In order to help, we often need an approach that will support emotional and social wellbeing as well as developing the relationship between home and school, and between child and parent.


Story Links is just such an approach. It is a parent-partnership intervention designed to support pupils with any emotional difficulties that are preventing them from learning. Through helping pupils to clear the learning blocks in their way, genuine progress on their school work can be made.

This gentle path to a more balanced state runs over 10 weeks and targets children aged 6-11. Through joint story writing and the metaphors generated through this process, parents/carers are encouraged to think about their child’s emotional and social wellbeing. Parents are also encouraged to hear their child read their co-created stories at home.

Turnarounds in behaviour and enjoyment at school

Story Links has a proven track record of effectiveness. Teachers and school leaders report turnarounds in behaviour and enjoyment at school while parents speak of improved trust and patience. Children and parents enjoy the sessions. Learning and growing together.

Owen’s story

One of Story Links’ success stories is eight-year-old Owen* and his mother. Although Owen’s writing and reading skills were not as advanced as they might be at his age, he was frequently absent from school due to being excluded. Staff at Owen’s school felt that his home situation could be the source of his problems. Owen’s behaviour seemed consistent with a child with confused attachment. In a Story Links group, Owen was given the opening, “Dino the dragon lay outside his cave. Never before had he felt so lonely…”. Owen wrote, “because he didn’t have anyone who wanted to play with him. So he burnt his Mum’s plants.” Through active listening the Story Links teacher was able to elicit that Dino burnt his Mum’s plants because, “He wanted to tell his Mum how miserable he felt and had called her 17 times but she didn’t come. So Dino just walked off into the dark shadows.” Owen’s story was typed out and stuck in his book. Through careful communication with Owen’s mother, and support from her social worker, she attended 8 out of 10 Story Links sessions with her son.

Fred’s story

Another example is Fred*, aged 7. Fred had a history of self-harming and had even talked of killing himself. Fred’s Story Links story clearly reflects his relationship with father figures and his self-harming and he was able to talk about how he was feeling, and the concern others had for him, through the Story Links process.

Perry’s story

Seven-year-old Perry* and his mum also benefited from Story Links. Despite a rocky start to the process for both of them, Perry became increasingly settled as the weeks went on. He responded well to the predictable structure of the sessions and he progressed from copying examples to being able to describe his feelings and imagine stories. Perry’s behaviour improved significantly and his timetable increased. He described himself as “angry” when the Story Links sessions ended, so was given permission to join a Therapeutic Storywriting group so that he could continue to build his self-esteem and confidence.

Implemented by SEN teachers, educational psychologists, SENCOs and school counsellors, Story Links interventions aim to support the emotional and social well-being of vulnerable pupils, as well as improving reading skills and behaviour, and engaging parents. Given the myriad pressures faced by children and families today this is an evidence-based approach that is proven to get results.

Find out more… Story Links Training

*All names have been changed for confidentiality