Book: Building Belonging by Cathal Lynch via @JohnCattEd

A systematic approach to school improvement and emotional wellbeing

Building Belonging













  • Tells the tale of how a community was built to support the emotional wellbeing of young people.
  • A considered evaluation of how the Building Belonging Approach was developed exploring all elements expected within a supportive school environment.
  • Throughout, and within the appendices, the book offers framework templates and guidance for the development of a BBA.
  • A concentration of leadership style and values that need to be embedded and shared within a BBA school setting.
  • Considerations of emotional and mental health wellbeing are given attention, trying to ensure a positive learning environment can be built for everyone within the community.

Quite often in our schools, individuals can become unengaged, disruptive and show no clear sense of drive in achieving their potential. It is easy to remove such individuals away from the classroom environment so that a calm learning environment can be achieved. But, no matter what the causes behind such challenging behaviours are – and there are often a varied number of complex reasons – most people simply want a sense of belonging. A sense of belonging among their peers, their family, and among the communities which they inhabit.

In his book, Cathal Lynch advocates a systematic whole-school approach to improvement and emotional wellbeing. In a reflective yet substantial first chapter, Lynch sets the scene by describing how he, and his team, evolved the Building Belonging Approach (BBA) through the development of a SEMH primary annexe within a secondary school set within England. Within such a context, the book then builds to describe the considerations needed when supporting SEMH children, that can be translated into everyday school contexts, able to offer the necessary support to all pupils. Building an environment where everyone feels that they belong is always going to be difficult, but when careful thought, planning and implementation is central then the outcomes can prove to be positive for the entire community.

The further chapters showcase to the reader how to adapt whole-school thinking in terms of BBA, along with inspiration to adopt, prioritising CPD, and implementing targeted pathways to ensure positive results for students. Concluding, Cathal offers six tools that every leader needs to be effective – it’s certainly not Rocket Science, but a kindly reminder that reflective practice is relevant for all teachers and school-leaders in considering the actions, ideas and practices within a school community. The Appendices also offer useable resources to gather opinions and feedback from key people within the school population, but also – admirably – a one-page school action plan that could make focusing on important elements more accessible to everyone within the community.

Review and ratings independently compiled by Colin Hill, Supported by John Catt Publishing

*RRP correct at time of review publication.

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About @digicoled 446 Articles
Colin Hill – Founder, researcher and editor of ukedchat. Also a bit of a tech geek! Project management, design thinking, and metacognition.
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