Improving socio-emotional health for pupils in early secondary education with Pyramid: A school-based, early intervention model

Michelle Jayman, Maddie Ohl, Bronach Hughes, Pauline Fox

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Background. Policy makers are focusing increased attention on the role of schools to promote and support children’s mental health, and evidence-based models of good practice are in demand. Pyramid Club is a school-based, socio-emotional intervention, demonstrably effective with primary-aged pupils. Aims. This study extends previous Pyramid Club evaluations by examining effectiveness with pupils in early secondary education; service users’ perceptions and experiences were investigated to increase understanding of Pyramid’s impact, thus supporting enhanced practice. Sample. Participants (n = 126) comprised selected pupils, aged 11-14 (52 males; 74 females), who completed the 10 week programme (Pyramid group) and a non-intervention comparison group. Club leaders (n = 23) were trained, Pyramid volunteers. Methods. A mixed methods design was implemented. The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ), informant-rated version (Goodman, 1997) and self-report version (Goodman, Meltzer, & Bailey, 1998), was used to measure socio-emotional well-being: pre-club (baseline assessment), post-test (within two weeks of programme completion), and at 12-month follow-up (informant-rated version only). Focus groups were conducted separately with Pyramid pupils and Club leaders. Results. Findings from informants and self-reports identified significant improvements for the Pyramid group in total difficulties and on pertinent SDQ subscales (e.g. emotional symptoms and peer relationship problems) at post-test. Improvements were sustained at 12-month follow-up. Comparison pupils demonstrated minimal change over time. Thematic analysis of qualitative data supported the quantitative findings and provided valuable insights into the Pyramid Club experience. Conclusions. Findings contribute to evidence-based, preventative models for the early adolescent population and support the social validity of Pyramid Club.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-130
Number of pages19
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018


  • Pyramid Club
  • Socio-emotional wellbeing
  • Secondary school pupils

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