Learning without limits: Using SCARF to create a whole-school approach to behaviour, safety and learning at Windhill21

Windhill21 is a primary academy in Hertfordshire that believes in ‘learning without limits’. The school has enthusiastically embraced SCARF. How does SCARF work alongside the other approaches they use, and how has it made a difference to life at school? We spoke to Debra Price, Assistant Headteacher at Windhill21.

Why did Windhill21 decide to adopt a whole-school approach to behaviour, safety and learning?

Having had the Life Bus for a number of years and knowing the positive impact that a one-off visit had made on the children’s personal and social learning, we were very excited to discover that new teaching materials were now available.  Nancy Hughes, our local Coram Life Education Educator, showed me the resources and they looked easy to use, extremely up-to-date and both teacher and child-friendly.

What appealed to you about the SCARF approach?

I'm a very visual learner and having taught early years for the past 23 years I love programmes that have characters! And of course the acronym of SCARF helps us all remember the values and principles it represents. SCARF has definitely saved my teachers a lot of time in planning. Everything was there and the planning tool was easy to use. 

How did you get everyone on board with the SCARF approach?

We held an initial staff meeting. I talked people through the programme and how they could use it.  We then gave them time to plan with their year group partner during the meeting (which I find is very important to do!)   A member of our staff attended the Coram Life Education Relationships and Sex Education course.  She came back from it having learned a lot, and led a staff meeting to review and plan for next year with a focus on the relationships aspect.  The children were introduced to SCARF in a whole-school assembly which I ran myself.

Can you give us some examples of how you use the SCARF values (safety, caring, achievement, resilience, friendship) in day-to-day school activities?

We already have ‘Secret Agents’ who support our learning behaviours throughout the school, such as Agent Caring, Perseverance, Reflector etc. – so the SCARF values intertwine with these beautifully.  When these behaviours are recognised in a child they are moved up the zone board.  Every EYFS and KS1 class has a set of puppets – Harold, Derek and Kiki.  These are used across the curriculum but especially in PSHE and P4C sessions.  In EYFS the children use them in their CIP.  I have a knitted scarf and use this - and the puppets - every week in my KS1 assemblies.


Can you summarise any positive changes in your school that you have seen as a result of using SCARF? Have you noticed any changes in pupils’ attendance, attitudes, behaviour, sense of safety, progress or achievement?

I think it has highlighted the need for children to feel safe. Using ideas from Protective Behaviours and SCARF we've been able to get children to identify safe places and safe people for them.  We have a visual called the ‘learning pit’ in each class and one of the Yr 1 lessons had a similar learning concept when Harold was learning to ride a bike.  We used his 'learning line' to make it more accessible to KS1. SCARF has linked into lots of things we were doing already, such as Thrive and Protective Behaviours. It also weaves in with other subject areas – it’s not all just about Maths and English! We like how lessons for each year group follow similar themes but build on them making them appropriate for every age.

Do you feel that SCARF has helped prepare your school and teachers to meet the new DfE statutory Relationships, Sex and Health Education requirements?

Yes, and our staff member also brought back some exercises from the SCARF Relationships Education Workshop to help us plan for next year.


School display showing the encouragement Year 1 gave to Harold when he learned to ride his bike. (Linking to growth mindset)

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