Case studies

Zippy's Friends helps cope with bereavement

The Deputy Head of a deprived area of Newcastle delivers Zippy’s Friends in year two. With one of her pupils bereaved by suicide, she was nervous about delivering Module five of Zippy’s Friends, which focuses on change and loss, including death. However, as she explains, the experience was very positive for all involved.

“One of the boys in our year two class lost his dad in December. We reached Module 5 of Zippy’s Friends in Easter. Initially I was nervous going into the sessions and I was worried it would bring up issues I wouldn’t know how to deal with. I invited his mum in to the school before we started to talk to her about the sessions. She was pleased that we were going to tackle the subject, as it was something she found quite difficult.

Over the course of the sessions, we talked about how it felt to lose a favourite toy and then a pet and then someone you love. We also discussed that losing someone you love could be that they move away, as this is something many of our children have experience of. It was a really valuable chance for the children to talk honestly about their feelings that perhaps they didn’t want the person they’d lost to be in heaven, they wanted them here. We were able to talk openly that sometimes things are just really sad.

For the boy who’d been bereaved, he had previously been quite open to talk about it. The big benefit of Zippy’s friends was that it gave other children the vocabulary to help. Other parents also weren’t sure how their children should handle it but the sessions meant the children were happy with those conversations.

We chose not to visit our local graveyard as the boy’s dad was buried there and I felt it wouldn’t be appropriate. Instead, we had the vicar from the church visit the school for that lesson.  

In my experience, talking about death is something that teachers and parents shy away from but it’s not what children do. Zippy’s Friends gave us a structure and support for children to have those conversations in a helpful, sensitive way.

Sadly two more of our children have experienced parent suicides this year. It’s not something that is easy to deal with as a school. We have things in place such as individual counselling and use books such as Life is like the Wind. Zippy’s Friends is another resource we can use to support those children and empower the rest of the class to help them.”


Zippy's Friends helps children express their emotions more easily

Marilyn Charles is a higher level Teaching Assistant and Family Support Worker at a primary school in Gloucestershire. She teaches Zippy’s Friends to her year 1 class.

“Zippy’s Friends is a fantastic, fun resource to assist the children in our care. It helps them to show improved social behaviours and sets them on a path to discussing emotions leading to better emotional health. Children can express their emotions more easily and they are better at dealing with their feelings. Plus I really enjoy teaching the programme and it’s really helped me to get to know the class better.

It’s not just me who’s noticed the difference. Parents have said how the children talk about feelings and strategies they have in place to sort issues. They have also commented on the mature language the children use when discussing the topics we have covered.

A child with an Education Health and Care Plan for social, emotional and mental health needs joined us after Christmas and he was extremely anxious having moved house and school. Initially he found it difficult to express his feelings but after a few weeks he was asking if it was Zippy day and participating with his peers. Now he is able to verbalise his feelings more easily and does not display the negative behaviours we had witnessed previously.

"Zippy’s Friends is an excellent resource to show children ways to have improved emotional health both now and in the future."

I really enjoy teaching the programme and it’s really helped me to get to know the class


Zippy's Friends is popular with children and parents alike

Sarah Pask is a learning mentor at Geddington Primary School in Northamptonshire. She has been running Zippy’s Friends for two years alongside the class teacher Caroline Hammond.

“This is our second year of running the program and again it has proved to be very popular with the children and parents alike.

Zippy's friends has had a very positive impact throughout the class. Children are more open with others and have a better vocabulary to express their feelings. The sessions have increased their awareness of how important it is to talk to others and has significantly increased their confidence and self-esteem.

Parents have been very positive about the Zippy's Friends program. Many have noticed their child talking to them more about feelings and emotions, and showing at home the various skills they have learnt in the program such as anger methods and relaxations techniques.

I find the resources very helpful, they are a good guideline to each session. I find the inclusion supplement very handy, I have used it for multiple lessons. It often has good ideas for SEN and provides inspiration for my own ideas.

"I would definitely recommend Zippy's Friends to other schools; Zippy offers a fun way of helping children understand their feelings and emotions, and gives them the tools to help themselves and others overcome difficulties."

Zippy offers a fun way of helping children understand their feelings and emotions.”


Supporting children with major issues such as bereavement

A Family Liaison Officer at a school in Kent has been delivering Zippy’s Friends and Apple’s Friends for a number of years and has seen first hand the impact if has had on his pupils.

“The children enjoy the programmes a lot and both Zippy’s Friends and Apple’s Friends have helped me get to know the children much better.

In school, children’s behaviour has improved and they are better able to deal with arguments between friends. We had a group of boys in year three who were constantly “digging” at each other and winding each other up. Apple’s Friends has helped them to understand how they could get along better and stop irritating each other. This has led to a much calmer classroom environment with less time spent by the teacher resolving arguments.

Parents have also noticed the impact of Zippy and Apple at home. A couple of parents have spoken to me about how the children are communicating better and being a bit more open about things that are bothering them. They’ve also told me that children are getting along with siblings better!

Zippy’s Friends also helps children deal with major difficulties and problems. One girl in year two lost her mother in the last year and Zippy’s Friends has enabled her to deal with many of her thoughts and emotions around this. Her father has also noticed the change thanks to the programme.

"Zippy’s Friends and Apple’s Friends have helped our children deal with issues big and small. I would wholeheartedly recommend the programme to others- in fact I regularly do!"

Zippy’s Friends and Apple’s Friends have helped our children deal with issues big and small.