Solution Focused Practice in Schools: 80 Ideas and Strategies, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Solution Focused Practice in Schools

80 Ideas and Strategies, 1st Edition

By Yasmin Ajmal, Harvey Ratner


160 pages

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Paperback: 9781138640221
pub: 2019-11-12
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Solution Focused practice is a change-focused approach to enabling people of all ages to make progress in their lives by emphasising what is wanted in the future, amplifying successes and highlighting the capacities and skills available to support progress.

Grounded in the reality of the day to day challenges of school life, Solution Focused Practice in Schools: 80 ideas and strategies offers dynamic, practical, down to earth and jargon-free applications of the SF approach that can create energy and movement in even the toughest of situations.

From working with individuals to considering organisational developments, this book explores the SF approach using numerous examples and sample questions that can be adapted for any situation and whether the time available is long or short.

The reader will gain ideas about how to:

  • move beyond ‘don’t know’ responses in individual discussions with students to create dialogues where difference and change can occur
  • invite classes into constructive conversations about building the classroom environment that brings out the best in students, whether there has been a concern or not
  • address key issues such as confidence, motivation, resilience and dealing with setbacks
  • build detail around potential and effective futures in coaching, consultations and meetings
  • support the development of policies and procedures at an organisational level
  • support solution-based conversations using play, role play, video and other creative techniques.

This book is an excellent resource for managers, teachers, SENCOs, mentors, counsellors, coaches, psychologists, social workers and all those who work in a supportive capacity in schools to promote the learning and well being of both students and staff.


"In this marvellous new book, Ajmal and Ratner teach us, in their own words, that ‘It is only the wearer of the shoe who knows where it is comfortable’. Through providing the basics of the solution focused approach and using it with individuals, groups, staff members and teachers, the reader will gain true insight into how schools can work using solution focused practice. The dialogues that are included offer rich, specific examples of how school counsellors, teachers and head teachers can engage and relate to students dealing with a variety of concerns. Educators who often wonder if they can make a difference with a troubled student need to read this book, which will finally provide them with ideas and strategies for asking questions that elicit teacher and student driven solutions, which are always the best kind!"

- Linda Metcalf, author of Counseling Toward Solutions and Director of Graduate Counseling Programs and School Counseling at Texas Wesleyan University, USA

"This is an invaluable, inspiring and accessible guide for all teachers, from trainee to experienced, in responding effectively to the challenging situations encountered with individual children, groups and whole classes. The book is evidence-based and grounded in practice. It offers practical approaches that go beyond problem solving to enable pupils to recognise, own and sustain their ‘best selves’. The process of co-constructing desired futures and achievable steps is illustrated through numerous case study examples. These studies highlight the impact of open questioning and scaffolded dialogue in building positive attitudes and relationships for learning and for life."

- Sue Ellis, Professional Tutor and Senior Teaching Fellow at UCL Institute of Education, UK

Table of Contents


About the Authors



Part 1 Introduction to Solution Focused Practice

  1. What is Solution Focused Practice (SFP)?
  2. A brief background
  3. Summary of practice
  4. Fundamental SF skills
  5. Solution building is not the same as problem solving
  6. Key SF questions
  7. Scales: denoting the progress already made
  8. Dealing with ‘don’t know’
  9. Adapting SFP to work in schools
  10. Summary of SFP in schools
  11. Research and literature on SFP
  12. How to get going…and how to keep going

Part 2 How will we know we are at our best? Conversations with whole classes

  1. Introduction: involving students
  2. Inviting students to step into their ‘best version’
  3. Being specific makes actions more accessible and possible
  4. The perspectives of others
  5. How do you keep students thinking and looking?
  6. Using scales
  7. How do we record these discussions?
  8. Five minute versions
  9. Talking with a whole class when there has been a difficulty
  10. Variations of scales in the classroom
  11. Creating opportunities for appreciation in the classroom
  12. Part 3 Individual work

  13. Introduction: principles
  14. Getting started: building a common direction
  15. Building virtual pathways to success
  16. Resource-based discussions
  17. Using scales
  18. Creative scales
  19. Other ways of moving a conversation in a constructive direction
  20. When there has been a set-back
  21. Confidence,
  22. Motivation
  23. Anxiety
  24. Giving advice
  25. The enquiring mind: facilitating peer conversations
  26. Differing 5 minute conversation frameworks around a specific issue
  27. Part 4 Coaching, Consultations and Meetings

    Coaching conversations with staff

  28. Key considerations
  29. Focusing on what is wanted
  30. Amplifying current successes and future opportunities
  31. A 5 minute coaching conversation
  32. How do coaches get better at coaching?
  33. Consultations with groups of staff

  34. Using scales to support consultations over time
  35. Locating what is working and making it stronger
  36. Meetings with parents and other professionals

  37. Basic meeting structure
  38. Establishing the Best Hopes from the meeting
  39. Finding a starting point through parental aspirations
  40. What if the student is not at the meeting?
  41. Clarifying priorities: multiple scaling
  42. When things are tough
  43. Pupil progress meetings and beyond
  44. Meetings around organisational development

  45. Linking visions, policies and practice
  46. Locating and building on strengths
  47. Part 5 Working with groups around specific issues

  48. Introduction: structure of sessions
  49. Group work with students

  50. Mobilising resources and useful qualities
  51. Establishing ‘ground rules’ for the group
  52. Supporting forward-looking conversations
  53. Using a scale
  54. Questions are the best form of advice
  55. Follow up sessions
  56. Points of practice to bear in mind
  57. Group mediation
  58. Parent groups

  59. Starting and finishing from a position of strength
  60. Exploring what parents want
  61. Being at our best
  62. Advice giving
  63. Part 6 The lower primary age

  64. Noticing and naming
  65. Keeping good things going
  66. Co-creating pictures of success: children as experts
  67. Other ideas to help scaffold ‘noticing’ and ‘doing’
  68. Stepping into the world of imagination
  69. One to one conversations
  70. Part 7 Case example of individual work: Christiana

  71. Transcript
  72. How are reputations formed, maintained and changed?
  73. Part 8 Solution Focus in Zanzibar: a case study

  74. Stay open to differences!
  75. Where do you position yourself and how do you get started?
  76. Data gathering phase
  77. Final meeting and report
  78. What happened next?
  79. What did we learn?

About the Authors

Yasmin Ajmal is a former primary teacher and educational psychologist. She is now self-employed as a Solution Focused coach, trainer and educational consultant.

Harvey Ratner is a founder member of BRIEF, established in 1989 to deliver therapy, coaching and training in the Solution Focused approach. He works as a therapist and coach at BRIEF and in schools

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings: