STALWARTS - Sustaining Teachers and Learners With the Arts: Relational Health in European Schools


The STALWARTS project aims to promote relational health in schools. It builds upon the achievements of the current complementary LINK project (Learning in a New Key) through facilitating collaboration and learning between teachers and music and other creative arts therapists to support vulnerable young people in their transitions into learning. The STALWARTS methodology is based on UNCRC principles that encourage teachers and therapists to investigate the impact of sensory and relational aspects of music and arts experiences on the executive functions of the brain and to explore creative activities that support the development of positive attachments to which vulnerable young people have a right.

Through the STALWARTS training programme teachers engage themselves in collaborative music making with the young people while conducting classroom enquiries that draw on observable physiological phenomena. It is through the development of such evidence bases that the promotion of young people’s relational health in the school context becomes recognised as a concern that teachers can address.

In this emerging field of interest, practice-based evidence from the STALWARTS project will support shared reflections between teachers and therapists in a way that helps both groups to find synergies between their different professional ways of working.  Through discussions like these the LINK project teachers have been developing new knowledge, understandings, skills and ways of being that support them to become music/arts-based therapeutic teaching practitioners. During the STALWARTS project these methodologies and classroom enquiries will be incorporated into new accredited university study programmes. 

It is anticipated that the main beneficiaries will be vulnerable young people within the classes of the teachers who will engage in the university-based study programmes.  Some will have had adverse childhood experiences that will have resulted in developmental trauma that is not restored or repaired through the prevalent behaviourist approaches of many schools. It is intended that the teachers of such vulnerable children who comprise up to 15% of general school populations in Europe, will have accredited professional recognition for the enhanced competences that underpin their therapeutic teaching practices and be respected for their capacities to incorporate dimensions of relational health into their new educational rationales. It is anticipated that these measures will enhance the learning experience of this vulnerable group of young people and be recognised as contributing to the wider European project 'reducing early leaving from education and training'.