Circles for Learning Logo
Hands Cupping Heart Icon

Creating Positive Relationships

Created byAlison Waterhouse

Enrol Now


Research has demonstrated that relationships play a significant role in learning and mental health and wellbeing.

The Creating Positive Relationships online course looks at how relationships underpin our perception, awareness, and understanding of interactions, and how they can influence teaching, learning, and behaviour.

This course aims to help practitioners develop their knowledge about how to support positive relationship development in the children and young people they teach. It emphasises: that the brain develops in relation to others and thus early relationships influence future ones; the importance of attachment and its implications for teaching and learning; how to use relationships to support transitions; ways to support children and young people in their development of positive social skills; why empathy is important in relationships; and how to manage disputes and arguments effectively.

Practitioners will become empowered to provide children and young people with new relational experiences and to develop a classroom environment that supports the skills needed in building and maintaining positive relationships, and as a result positive mental health and wellbeing.

Who this course is for

  • Teachers
  • Emotional literacy support assistants
  • Teaching assistants
  • Learning mentors
  • Higher level teaching assistants
  • Others working with young people

What you'll learn

  • The concept of relationships and why they are important to our mental health and wellbeing
  • The ability to define and identitify social skills / competencies and how they develop
  • The concept of attachment theory and how important early relationships are to the developing child
  • What role empathy plays in developing strong relationships
  • How early relationships shape the developing brain
  • An understanding of how attachement theory can shape the way we work with schools
  • Introduction to Creating Positive Relationships

  • Attachment

  • Impact on the Brain

  • Implications for School

  • Social Skills

  • Empathy

  • Restorative Justice

  • End of Course Tasks

Positive Relationships in School: Supporting Emotional Health and Wellbeing


One of the five books in the Mental Health and Wellbeing Teacher Toolkit, this practical resource focuses on developing the skills necessary to build and maintain successful relationships. The book offers research-driven, practical strategies, resources and lesson plans to support educators and health professionals. Chapters span key topics including Communication, Respecting Yourself and Others, Resolving Conflict, and Team Building.

Book Icon
View Resource

Your tutor

Avatar of Alison Waterhouse

Alison Waterhouse

Educational Psychotherapist and Founder of the Circles for Learning Project

Alison Waterhouse has worked in mainstream, special education, and the independent sector for the past 30 years, specialising in working with children with Additional Educational Needs (AEN) including Mental Health and Wellbeing.

Alison set up and developed an Independent Therapeutic Special School in Kent. She then moved into mainstream schools where she worked as a Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo) and Inclusion Manager. Alison then went on to develop an innovative role in mainstream schools, titled, 'Teacher in Charge of Social and Emotional Wellbeing of the Whole School Community’.

Alison has worked with the Anna Freud Centre, Young Minds, and Optimus training staff in schools on topics including  attachment, emotional barriers to learning, mental health and wellbeing, and becoming a trauma sensitive school. She now works as an Independent Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and Mental Health and Wellbeing Adviser. Alison is also a qualified Educational Psychotherapist and has her own practice in East Sussex.

Alison has spent the past 8 years developing the ‘Circles for Learning’ project in schools. Circles for Learning trains and then supports teachers to bring a parent and young child into the classroom (at the KS1 - KS3 level) once a month for a year. This amazing experience allows children to observe the development of relationships, watch learning unfold, understand how our sense of self develops, and observe and understand emotions and the ways in which they impact on our behaviour. With the guidance and support of their teacher they explore and think about what they have seen and how this may link to their own development, learning, thinking, behaviour, and ways of interacting with others. These parent young child observation visits are the provocation or stimulus to follow up work led by the teacher exploring each of the five essential elements that form the foundations for positive mental health and wellbeing.

Alison has undertaken primary research project and a Masters looking at the impact of the project on children and young people (CYP) within schools. Whilst developing the project she has assorted the knowledge into five resource books which have been published by Routledge. They make up the Mental Health and Wellbeing Teachers Toolkit.

Learn More
Quote Icon

I’ve really enjoyed Alison's training. It is by far the most interactive and interesting online training I have done. The videos and personal questions scattered throughout the course have been extremely useful in helping me think more deeply about the topics covered. There was also no silly quiz at the end - just practical exercises to get me started implementing what I had learnt.

Quote Icon

Teaching Assistant

Behaviour Support Team