Bath Spa University granted £50,000 to continue to support emotional health and wellbeing of children in Somerset

An innovative children’s project commissioned by Somerset County Council Public Health, in partnership with Bath Spa University,  has been awarded an additional £50,000 to continue its vital work in the region.

The Emotion Coaching project, also run in partnership with EHCAP a social enterprise offering solutions for improving outcomes for children and young people, launched last year and aims to increase understanding of emotional health and wellbeing of children in Somerset.

The project is part of Somerset County Council’s response to the promotion, protection and improvement of Children and Young People’s mental health and wellbeing.

The project, originally inspired by Professor John Gottman’s research in the USA, teaches the importance of a child’s emotional awareness and ability to handle their feelings to aid their success and happiness in life.

Gottman’s research has shown that emotion coached children achieve more academically in school, are more popular, have fewer behaviour problems, and have fewer infectious illnesses.

Dr Janet Rose, Emotion Coaching Project Leader at Bath Spa University’s Institute for Education, said: “There is a growing body of research that demonstrates the positive impact emotion coaching has on a young person’s social development and progress. Our initiative aims to give a practical strategy to help children and young people to become more aware of their emotions and to manage these feelings more effectively through a network of trained professionals across the region.”

Kate Reynolds, Dean at Bath Spa University’s Institute for Education, said: “It’s imperative to support the ongoing professional development of teachers in the classroom, and this initiative has been doing just that. We are delighted to be awarded these funds to help us continue this important work throughout Somerset.”

Since its launch early last year the initiative has been rolled out across the region including South Somerset, Mendip, Sedgemoor, Taunton Deane and West Somerset district Councils.

The project has facilitated the training of 136 skilled professionals across the education, health and public sectors. This includes teachers, GPs, youth workers and Early Years intervention workers who implemented the emotion coaching guidelines within their own organisations, as well as championing the work of the project to their peers.

Adrian Mitchell, Head teacher at Manor Court Primary School in Chard, and an emotion coaching champion, said: “In 18 years of teaching and goodness knows how many courses, this one makes the most sense and has given me the most useful help, support, ideas to work with in my setting.”

A study by Bath Spa University and EHCAP has shown the project has already had a significant impact within the first year:

• 87% of participants* agreed that the Emotion Coaching training increased awareness of emotional and mental health
• 79% agreed that the training had a direct impact on children’s wellbeing, improving behaviour. Responses indicated that Emotion Coaching facilitated more discussion about emotions in conversations with children and young people
• 64% of respondents stated the training supported a culture of openness by creating acceptance that it is alright to talk about emotional and mental health problems

A conference was held recently in Taunton to celebrate the success of the project so far and certificates were awarded to emotion coaching champions who have helped teach best practice throughout the region.

The continued funding will allow for the training of more professionals in Somerset and further development for those that have completed their initial training last year.

Dr Sarah Temple, EHCAP spokesperson said: “‘We are very grateful to Somerset County Council for the opportunity to roll out this innovative work and to be part of the ongoing cultural transformation in services for children and young people.”

Cllr. Anna Groskop, Cabinet Member with responsibility for health at Somerset County Council, said: “We are pleased to continue this project with Bath Spa University which invests in the health and wellbeing of our children and young people.

“The project has been successful in schools and community settings across the region. Working with youngsters to help them understand their own emotions and behaviour is so important to help build strong foundations for their future here in Somerset.”

To find out more about the Emotion Coaching project visit