Sgoil an Rubha group benefits from Point and Sandwick Trust donation

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Lego play therapy is increasingly being used in primary schools on the Isle of Lewis — and Point and Sandwick Trust was delighted to donate money to Sgoil an Rubha to boost their stocks.

The Trust gave Sgoil an Rubha £100 to buy Lego sets when they learned about the benefits the children were getting from Lego therapy, a development programme that is proven to boost social skills in primary-age children, particularly those with additional support needs.

It works by using everyday Lego – Sgoil an Rubha have been buying theirs from the Corner Shop – and working together to follow the pictorial instructions to build the model.

There are four children in each group and each one is assigned a role. There is an engineer, a director, supplier and builder, and they all have to communicate and work together to achieve their common goal.

Three groups of pupils, varying in age, from Sgoil an Rubha have been aiming to meet once a week since January, for about 30 minutes, for this play therapy session.

The donation has enabled the building of a bank of Lego sets so the children can enjoy fresh challenges.

Anne Macphail, Learning Support Teacher at Sgoil an Rubha, said: “We’re really delighted with this very generous donation which is allowing us to get a good bank of Lego within the school which we can then use to really tailor the Lego building programme for each group.”

The idea for starting Lego play therapy in Sgoil an Rubha initially came from speech and language therapy and Anne found a wealth of information online. “I was overwhelmed when I started researching Lego therapy,” she said. “It’s big.”

Its benefits are well documented internationally. Work by the Autism Research Centre at the University of Cambridge confirmed that Lego therapy leads to improved social skills. In part, this is thought to be because Lego is so systematic and motivating.

Anne said: “Each child gets something different out of the group - for some, it’s to help with verbal articulation, for others it’s more about self-esteem. Some of the children really struggle to work within defined roles and this helps them to see how different roles work together.

“It’s about trying to build their social communication skills and the small group aspect is huge. When they come out for this time it’s like they’re twice the size. They get the emotional top-up from the time as well as the language and communication benefits.

“This is something that I can definitely see being rolled out more widely in the future as although it works particularly for children with additional support needs, there are positives for a much wider group.”

Angus McCormack, Chairman of Point and Sandwick Trust, is delighted they were able to help the school and was intrigued to hear all about it when he and Donald John MacSween, General Manager of Point and Sandwick Trust, handed over the cheque to the school recently.

Mr McCormack said: “It was a very interesting visit and we were able to speak to one of the children who explained how valuable the Lego is to helping him with his education. He could tell us quite clearly what the benefits were to him and his classmates. He knew what it was they were striving for.

“The Lego Groups are proving to be very successful and what we hope is that this will be just the beginning of a very positive relationship with Sgoil an Rubha for Point and Sandwick Trust.

“I would like to go and visit the school more regularly myself, now that we have made a contact, and find out ways that we can support them in the future.”

Pictured are Anne Macphail, Sgoil an Rubha Principal Teacher, Angus McCormack, Point and Sandwick Trust Chairman, Anne Macphail, Learnng Support Teacher, Isobel Macdonald and Christine Cummings, both Learning Support Auxiliaries, and Donald John MacSween, PST General Manager.