Effective Teaching and Modelling Emotional Resilience

In order to teach the skills of emotional resilience teachers need the right balance of knowledge and experience. To create good quality lessons where students learn effectively and have opportunity to practice the skills teachers require specialised and in-depth understanding.

How to Thrive has extensive experience in providing high quality teaching materials and training teachers and school based staff using evidenced based theories and approaches that are both practical and engaging.

We are particularly proud of our work that has seen schools from across the UK embed the Penn Resilience Programme lessons into the core curriculum. It is not often, for something that started out to answer a research question, to be successfully scaled up. We have trained in excess of 1100 teachers who have gone onto teach the lessons to over 100,000 (and counting) students!

Our Flagship - The Penn Resilience Programme

The Penn Resilience Programme (PRP) is an evidence based set of cognitive and behavioural lessons that were developed at the University of Pennsylvania. The 18 lessons are evidenced both in the USA and UK to reduce and prevent depression and anxiety and allow students to develop essential resilience skills for life.

The PRP is unique because;

  • As the lessons progress students are able to develop a more sophisticated understanding about their thinking and how this impacts on how they feel and behave.
  • Students will develop the skills to think accurately and flexibly and apply these to real life situations to help them solve problems effectively, keep things in perspective, not give up and enhance their optimism and confidence.
  • The lessons feel relevant because they are directed by student input.
  • During the lessons and homework assignments, students practise the skills through case studies, role play, investigation, talking games and worksheets.


Click here about the PRP made by students and teachers at Monk’s Walk School. 

Become a Certified Penn Resilience Programme Teacher

The Penn Resilience Programme Training is 5 day intensive course that equips staff with the skills and specialist knowledge to teach the PRP lessons in schools. The training begins by teaching the adult level skills that allow participants to consider and develop their own personal resilience. The second element of the training provides the insight to teaching the curriculum to young people.

During the training participants receive extensive coaching and feedback from the highly qualified training team to enable a full and deep understanding of the skills and the curriculum.

Research has identified that the quality of the teacher training is paramount for achieving successful outcomes for children and young people. If emotional resilience is to be taught well, and achieve the positive outcomes for children and young people that we know it can, then investing the time to learn how to do this is vital.

How to Thrive is the only european based organisation to facilitate the Penn Resilience Programme.

Emma Judge (Co-founder of How to Thrive) is the only UK based University of Pennslyvania Lead Trainer.

Click here to find the next PRP training dates 

What do the Penn Resilience Programme lessons cover?

The lessons cover the following cognitive components; PRP 1

  • Emotion awareness
  • ABC Skill: the link between thoughts and feelings/actions
  • Identifying thinking styles
  • Examining alternatives to our beliefs and looking for evidence
  • Thinking flexibly and accurately
  • Putting it into perspective (de-catastrophising)
  • Challenging negative beliefs quickly, in the moment (Real Time Resilience).

The 18 lessons develop the following skills and coping strategies;

  • Assertiveness
  • Negotiation
  • Creative problem solving
  • Decision making
  • Overcoming Procrastination
  • Social Skills
  • Emotional regulation and control
  • Relaxation
  • Distraction (Changing the Channel).

Download an outline of the Penn Resilience Programme summary of 18 lessons 

Penn Resilience Programme Impact and Evaluation
Measuring the impact of the PRP been an important element for development and roll out of the PRP in the UK. The PRP has been extensively evaluated in the USA and other places and so refreshingly came to the UK with a strong evidence base.

A three year study began in 2007, led by the London School of Economics and funded originally by the Department for Children Schools and Families (DCSF) and continued by the Department of Education (DfE). At the time the PRP was known as the UKRP. The emphasis for the PRP study was as a preventative intervention, meaning that the PRP was taught universally to all year 7 students. A total of 22 schools from Hertfordshire, Manchester and South Tyneside were part of the 3 year study.  

The findings of the 3 year study report show a positive impact for young people as follows; PRP4

  • The quantitative work found a significant improvement in
    • pupils’ depression symptom scores
    • school attendance rates
    • academic attainment in English
    • anxiety scores
    • maths attainment concentrated in a few groups of pupils
  • The impact varied by pupil characteristics with a larger impact for
    • pupils entitled to free school meals
    • who had not attained the national targets at Key Stage 2
    • who had worse initial symptoms of depression or anxiety
  • Teachers were extremely positive about the ideas underlying the programme and about the training they had received. Most reported that they used the skills themselves.
  • Pupils were positive about the programme. Interviews for the First Interim Report suggested that pupils had applied PRP skills in real life situations, and some interviewees showed a good understanding of elements of the programme.
  • Return visits to nine of the case study schools in autumn 2009 revealed that seven of the nine schools were continuing to deliver the UKRP to all Year 7 pupils.

The full report is online here

Evidence of Impact of Penn Resilience Programme From Anti-bullying Reviews

Independent Secondary School Anti-bullying Reviews in Hertfordshire during 2010 reported the following;

“The Resilience Programme has been delivered in 2 of the 8 schools visited.  The successful impact of the programme was evident in the different and more positive responses of pupils in those year groups that had been involved when compared with their older peers. 

The Penn Resilience Programme Evidence Primary Students

Primary schools have been keen to consider the use and impact of the PRP for their students. A controlled study began in 2010 and in line with other research projects the outcomes were positive. 

The quantitative results of the research show that pupils benefited from the PRP with improvement to their subjective wellbeing and their behaviour. Specifically the results suggest an improvement on 3 of the 4 measures as follows; 

  • Significant improvement in pupils’ depression symptom scores.
  • Significant improvement on the anxiety scores.
  • Suggestion that the depression and anxiety improvements were slighter better for girls than boys.
  • The results did not show an impact on prosocial behaviour.
  • A sizeable positive impact on behaviour scores for both boys and girls

Primary school teachers told us…

“I have by far the most challenging children in my form class of 30, they had prior to PRP already won themselves a considerable reputation for being ‘hard to handle’.”

“Actually they were really good in accelerated reading class today…” 

“I have to say they were really good in my lesson, they can be quite fun to work with…” 

“Teachers are hopelessly overloaded and stressed. New = more work in most people’s minds. PRP however is something that could make teachers as well as students lives more fluent and enjoyable. I’d like to help be part of the ‘get the message out there’ team of the future.”

“Students arrive on time; they are enthusiastic and want to do activities. They are disappointed when they have to miss their PRP lessons.”

To find out more contact us at: or .


Case Study - Using the Penn Resilience ABC Skill During Transition Day

Download the Case study provided by Monk’s Walk, a secondary school in Hertfordshire with creative PRP Teachers. They designed and delievered a successful session as part of their transition day that illustrates the oppotunities for using the skills and knowledge of the PRP beyond the lessons. 

Other Education Based Programmes That We Offer

The underlying theories, concepts and core principles provide the foundations for a number of our other programmes and approaches. In addition to the examples shown here we are able to design bespoke programmes to fit specific needs.

Thriving Leadership for Headteachers

The Thriving Leadership for Head Teachers programme is based on the same underlying principles as the highly regarded Penn Resilience Programme and provides practical, solution focused skills to ensure that leaders learn how to deal more effectively with setbacks and maximise opportunities.

Thriving Leadership for Head Teachers Programme Overview

The emphasis for this programme is on personal resilience, but in the context of leadership. As individuals explore and develop their own resilience they are also developing a deeper understanding of the impact they have on those around them, and in particular the organisation that they lead.

In the first module participants learn how to manage negative or unproductive reactions to setbacks and enhance the effectiveness of their decisions in difficult situations.  Practical skills are applied to real life situations and leaders gain a deeper understanding of the ‘triggers’ that undercut their resilience, with a particular emphasis on leading through change. For example Head Teachers are able to explore the challenges they face working with all the key stakeholders in a school – students, parents, staff, Governors and other services in order to maximise the potential of each of these groups to contribute to the school’s success.

The second module focuses on other aspects of thriving leadership. In particular participants learn how to communicate in ways that will enhance their own ability to thrive and that of their school. Participants are introduced to a framework for communication that enables clear, assertive and objective dialogue and empowers leaders to create more positive and productive relationships in the team. Finally we consider how a leader maintains their resilience over the longer term. Sustainable approaches to the challenges they face are discussed and participants identify strategies that will ensure that they are able to play to their strengths, maintain their energy levels and inspire resilience, hope and confidence in others.

img-40A key aspect of this programme is the opportunity to learn from colleagues in similar leadership positions. Our experience tells us that the opportunity to work through the day to day challenges of the role creates a peer support network, appropriate challenge and a safe environment to explore new ways of thinking. The overall objective of the group is a shared one – to thrive personally in order to better lead the organisation towards improved outcomes.

To find out more contact us at: or

Whole School Resilience

The Leading Whole School Resilience programme has been designed for schools that wish to enhance the emotional resilience of staff and students.

Whole School Resilience Programme Information and Stages

How to Thrive works with a group of the senior leaders in the school to build their resilience, and then supports them as they take this learning to the rest of the staff. The approach for Leading Whole School Resilience is thoughtful about how you bring staff with you, making the best of their strengths, ensuring they recognise their contribution to the organisation as a whole and enabling them to thrive and flourish in their professional roles.

The programme consists of a number of stages, each building on the last, and each essential to the overall outcomes.

  • Stage 1: The leadership team participate in a 2 day programme to develop their resilience skills and learn how to model the skills with their staff.
  • Stage 2: The leadership team work with How to Thrive to take the learning back into school and plan and design an INSET relevant to the individual school.
  • Stage 3: An INSET day, with the How to Thrive team in attendance and involving all members of staff. The content of the day will depend on Stage 2 and will focus on developing resilience and emotional wellbeing. Staff will have an opportunity to discuss specific and relevant challenges and agree solutions that can be taken forward.
  • Stage 4: A 3 hour learning event to deepen the staff’s understanding and to consider how to model resilient approaches to setbacks with students.

Key aspects of school life that are likely to be impacted in a positive way are:

  • The culture of the school
  • Attitudes and skill levels needed to introduce building resilience in students
  • Relationships in the staff room
  • Dealing with old situations in a new way
  • Creating an open and supportive environment for staff and pupils

To find out more contact us at: or .


The INSET programme is an opportunity to work together to consider the elements of a thriving school.

INSET Programme Overview
The day will provide an overview of the core elements of how to build resilience and the benefits of developing skills to solve problems effectively and maintain performance. All the concepts introduced in the program are based on well understood and validated psychological concepts and techniques and will be facilitated by the How to Thrive training team.

This would be an ideal way for a school to gain a better understanding of the field.  It is a valuable intervention on it’s own, as the participants will learn some useful skills, and it also serves as an ideal platform for developing an informed approach to promoting emotional resilience and thriving that is ‘owned’ by those that will be required to deliver it.

To find out more contact us at: or .

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