BUSS® in Education

We’re keen to work with schools to think about the implications of underdeveloped sensorimotor systems on a child’s journey through education. We’re always happy to run in service training sessions or work with schools in building their expertise in supporting children who have experienced developmental trauma. If you’d interested in talking to us more about this work, please contact us on info@bussmodel.org

There are many things can contribute a child not having the kind of early experiences that facilitate the stepped progression through predictable stages of motor and emotional development that allow children to progress towards emotional regulation and learning. Not progressing through these stages of development at the right time can impact later stages of development.

BUSS® began as a clinical intervention, recognising the importance of addressing gaps in early development before / alongside consideration of relational or psychological therapies. It is increasingly being considered within education settings, where there is growing understanding that, without successfully negotiating early stages of development, it’s much harder for children to engage with and succeed in education.  At the moment, the focus of the BUSS® in Education work is on an early years programme– working with children from nursery through to the end of key stage one / Primary 2. This can be run with children and their parents on a 1:1 basis or as a small group. We are also happy to support schools to work with older children using BUSS® on an individual basis.

Training in BUSS® for schools is designed to build on trauma informed practice. If BUSS® is the starting point for a school, training can be adapted to include an understanding of the impact of trauma on the developing brain and implications for education.

Level 1 Module
Introductory Webinar

In Service Training

It can be helpful, if a school is considering either the BUSS® in Early Years Groupwork Programme or being supported to use BUSS® with an individual child, to have a whole school twilight training. This 1.5-hour session introduces the school team to BUSS®, building understanding of the role of the earliest relationships in a child’s life in establishing a foundation of bodily regulation. Good bodily regulation (a child having enough core stability to be able to sit on a chair or the carpet, feel confident when they’re moving and able to do things like jump with both feet off the ground) and these forms the foundation for the development of more complex motor skills (like being able to write or focus on what is being taught rather than having to concentrate on sitting or not falling over). This platform of good bodily regulation allows children to begin to be able to manage friendships and emotional regulation, both of which are steps towards learning and cognitive tasks.

The training supports staff to consider children in their setting, thinking about their foundation sensorimotor systems and how this impacts their capacity to function in school.  It can be delivered in person for schools local to us, or remotely.


BUSS® In Education Early Years Group Work

This 12-week groupwork programme is for children aged from 3 – 6 years and their parents or carers.  BUSS® is most beneficial in settings where there is already an existing culture of trauma informed training and practice, where experienced educators are working alongside children and their families where there has been some disruption to the earliest development of the child.

Working with parents or carers, the weekly group focuses on building bodily and emotional regulation. Parents and carers are encouraged to do the activities from the group at home, and school staff can supplement the work of the group in sessions within school.

For schools local to us, we can work alongside you to run these groups, building the skills and expertise of your staff through training and supervision as the group progresses. For schools that are further afield, at least one teacher must be BUSS® Level One trained and then have completed a BUSS® in Education Groupwork training.  Most settings choose to have at least 2 members of the team trained at BUSS® level one.

Further, many of the education settings we currently work in have chosen the SENCO and another key member of the pastoral team to become BUSS® Level One trained and to lead the BUSS® groupwork programme. This works well when thinking about BUSS® and its contribution as a focused intervention in raising outcomes for children who have experienced disruption in early childhood development.

Supervision has long been an integral part of clinical practice and its value is increasingly being recognised in education. There are 4 sessions of supervision embedded within the 12-week groupwork programme.  These give the opportunity to discuss the progress of children in the group, build understanding of their developing foundation sensorimotor systems and think about grading and differentiation of activities within the group.


BUSS® In Education Group Work Training

For schools that we’re not running the groups alongside, it’s useful to first identify BUSS® Group Work team, arrange for Level One training and then to identify children and families for the group.

Once enrolled on the BUSS® in Education Groupwork training programme, schools will be sent the BUSS® in Early Years handbook, which is the manual for running the group. It contains detailed plans for each group, a description of resources needed, pre and post group measures, letters for parents and carers and detailed information about grading / differentiating activities according to the needs of individual children.

The groupwork training is a 2-stage process. The first part of the training is embedded in the BUSS® in Early Years handbook and takes 4 -5 hours to complete.  There are recorded sessions for staff supporting the group as well as sessions for group leaders. This part of the training can be done in sections and must be completed before the part two. There is a knowledge check for group leaders between parts one and two.

The second part of the training can be delivered remotely or in person. This is a 3-hour training which builds on the preparatory work completed in part one. It offers the opportunity to think about the individual children and families coming to the group, review screening questionnaires and ‘walk through’ the first sessions of the group.

Level 3 Module

BUSS® in Education Case Studies and Feedback

Grimes Dyke Primary School in Leeds served a disadvantaged part of the city; 51.4% of the pupils were entitled to free school meals, compared to 23% nationally.  While their pupils were not in care, they had often experienced chaotic, disrupted lives that meant that they had missed out on many movement experiences that their bodies needed to be able to meet the demands of school.

After discussions with their head teacher, the BUSS team agreed to focus initially on two year groups: Year One and Year Six. A training day was staged for all of the staff who worked with those year groups, and Sarah Lloyd joined classes on different days in the gym, to look specifically at core strength, stability, upper body strength, bilateral integration and sequencing and the extent to which children’s movements were smooth, well-modulated and well-coordinated. From those sessions it was identified that eleven children in each group could benefit most from a focused intervention.

With the ordering of a small amount of equipment and plans from Sarah for class- and group-based interventions, the school began work training staff in the BUSS model and helping those children most affected acquire therapy.

Sarah’s reflections on this:

“It was fantastic to be able to think with a school like this about how they might integrate ideas to build foundation sensorimotor systems into their school day. From very simple things, like children lying on their tummies to do reading, to work to build specific skills in individual children. I was really impressed by the openness of the staff team to these new ideas and how good they were at integrating them into their work. It was helpful to be able to keep going into school as the team became more confident in the games and activities and see the interest this was sparking in other parts of the school.”

Louise Hill, Headteacher at Grimes Dyke Primary School, reflections on the intervention:

“From speaking to Sarah about her observations of children who have experienced trauma and adverse early childhoods, it was clear that at Grimes Dyke there were many children who fitted this brief. Whilst the majority of the children had not experienced the care system, they had various trauma filled lives which had impacted upon their early development. Just by walking around school with Sarah and looking at the way children sat at tables, moved around school or sat to eat lunch demonstrated how many of our children had undeveloped systems. Once we identified the two key year groups and took part in the training, we were off, the staff through themselves into the programme and truly believed in it’s potential. They were quickly celebrating the impact of children being able to concentrate for longer, write at greater length or use everyday tools such as a knife a fork more comfortably. Word spread around the staffroom and very soon other teachers were trying some of the basic techniques such as regular ‘tummy time’ and allowing children to work on the floor where possible. We’ve seen the impact of Buss at Team GD and will continue to build the principles into everyday learning at Grimes Dyke.”

In Sarah’s NHS work, commissioned by Jane Mischenko, Children’s Commissioner, she has set up a partnership with Leeds Virtual School and Meadowfield Primary School in Leeds to work with children who are looked after before they start school.

The virtual school funded a pilot of early intervention BUSS programme for pre-school children who are looked after, working in partnership with the virtual school and Meadowfield Primary School. We are now a small team including specialists from education and the therapeutic social work team working from Meadowfield.

Piloting this work has provided an opportunity to:

Children were followed up into their host schools and support given to the schools to continue the work on building sensorimotor systems.

We’ve currently run one cohort of this intervention, and evaluation is being conducted by University College London. Initial results look promising, and funding has been agreed for this project to continue, lowering the starting age of the children to two years. It is hoped that this work could be developed in other areas, offering a combination of training and joint work.

Alex Clark’s (Associate Headteacher at Meadowfield School) reflection on the intervention:

“BUSS has had a much wider impact in our school than the school readiness programme. Staff who were involved in LEAPlets began to identify children who were looked after or vulnerable across the school whose foundation sensorimotor systems were underdeveloped and who were really struggling with the demands of the classroom and playground. We’d noticed how much they seemed to struggle in terms of attention and focus but started to look more closely at what their core stability was like – whether part of the problem was that they were having to use a lot of energy just sitting in their chairs or writing. We worked with Sarah to develop a ‘Core Body Builders’ group that took in children across the classes in key stage two and started working in school to fill in the gaps in their foundation sensorimotor systems. We were quite shocked to see how many gaps there were for some children, and really pleased that we’d decided to pay attention to it and are seeing real benefits to this approach. We’re also surprised by how intuitive it now feels and we wonder why we didn’t know this before!

In the early years we trained all staff in BUSS and made a decision to take out all desks and chairs, so that their whole environment involved floor-based play and learning. PE is completely geared around BUSS and helping to build good bodily regulation as a platform for learning, friendships and play.”

Jancis Andrew’s (Head of the Virtual School) reflection on the intervention:

“Investing in this work to realise a positive impact on educational outcomes for children who have experienced care is something I envision becoming an embedded part of the ‘offer’ for looked after children in the early years.”


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