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Art Therapists help win the 2019 TES Creative School of the Year Award

12 February 2019

Art Therapists, Abigail Thomson and Mandy Neilson tell us about the work they do at Wilds Lodge School and why they won the award...


Wilds Lodge is a unique specialist therapeutic boarding school for pupils with Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMHN) needs. The Creative Therapies Team sits its heart, using psychotherapy focused on art, dance and drama alongside traditional techniques to break down the taboo around mental health and help pupils and staff to think differently.

Among the many forms this commitment takes is through “crisis first aid boxes” filled with tools to help students to express themselves in a more creative manner when they feel overwhelmed with emotion. The clay club helps students coping with exams stress to “make art and explore worries,” while the school’s speech therapist uses drama techniques to improve pupils’ communication and build their self-confidence. This creativity has also spilled over into public events, including an LGBT pride event celebrating diversity and workshops making clay poppies that were displayed in a community exhibition for Armistice Day in Oakham castle.

Creativity is not limited to the students, however, and staff can also take part in the “Circle of Adults,” which uses art as a form of mapping, visualizing and talking to help them find the best ways to help a child progress.

Lead judge Bernard Trafford commented: “This is a most impressive entry from a therapeutic boarding school for pupils with SEMHN, and at its heart is a creative therapies team. It’s clear that creativity permeates the work of the school: a worthy winner.”


"Wilds Lodge are so proud to receive the creativity award. We are delighted that our belief and passion about the creative therapies in education has been shared. We are driven by creativity and the positive impact of the arts on the emotional well being of our pupils. It is exciting to think that winning this award could inspire other educational settings to access the arts therapies and introduce alternative ways of healthy expression and positive mental health." 

Abigail Thomson (below left) and Mandy Neilson (below right)


To see TES press release about our award please click here