Video Interaction Guidance (VIG) is a therapeutic intervention rooted in the collaborative principles of a coaching relationship. A series of short videos are made of the adult interacting with the child or children. Moments where interactions are more positive than usual are selected and condensed into clips, which are analysed and discussed during a shared review between the adult and the VIG practitioner. The discussion focusses on the principles of attuned interaction, which refer to specific observable features of interactions that demonstrate attunement between those involved. The principles are arranged hierarchically, moving through six levels: Being attentive, encouraging initiatives, receiving initiatives, developing attuned interactions, guiding and deepening discussion (Kennedy, Landor & Todd, 2011). Video Enhanced Reflective Practice (VERP) uses VIG principles to support staff development, or to enhance the communication skills within an organisation. The work involves using short video clips, selected by the professional in the light of their self-set goal and the attunement principles, which are then analysed and discussed with the VIG practitioner, one to one or in a small group, over the course of several sessions (Kennedy, Landor &Todd, 2015).
The participating school discussed in this article is a secondary special school with “SEN College” status with the designation of Communication and Interaction. All students have a statement of special educational needs (SEN) or an Educational and Health Care Plan (EHCP) and are predominantly boys. Teachers at the school had identified behaviour management as an issue within the school with a small but significant number of challenging pupils and this was raised regularly at the termly planning meetings between us, the school’s linked Educational Psychologists (EPs) and the school’s Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo). The school had had an Ofsted inspection that academic year that had put it in to the category of ‘requires improvement’ although the area of behaviour management had been rated as good. In the previous two years, the school had taken on approximately ten new teaching staff, all of whom were from mainstream schools and two of whom were Newly Qualified Teachers (NQTs). As the Local Authority EPs linked to the school we raised the possibility of using Video Interaction Guidance as a whole school intervention to support the staff as they went through this challenging period of adjustment.
For the purpose of this article and for the purpose of the intervention, the participants were the adults rather than the students as the focus of the intervention was on developing the skills of the adults. The participants, therefore, were the Senior Management Team (SMT) comprising eight teachers and one Teaching Assistant (TA) – the Head Teacher had no teaching commitment so did not join us. The intervention was subsequently rolled out to the entire staff, including the TAs and Speech and Language Therapists; however, that phase of the intervention is not discussed here in detail.
The students that were being taught at the time of filming were all boys with a range of disabilities including Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Moderate Learning Difficulties (MLD), Speech, Language and Communication difficulties (SLCn), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Down’s Syndrome and physical disabilities. Many of the students had multiple diagnoses and a description of individual diagnoses and difficulties is outside of the scope of this article.
An introductory session was arranged with the SMT during which we delivered a PowerPoint presentation giving an outline of the theory, research and principles behind VIG, the process, and timelines, concluding with a question and answer session. At this time, we didn’t have permission to use a video to demonstrate VIG in action but the SMT gave permission to use their videos in the introductory sessions with the rest of the staff. Signed consent was gained from each participant at the end of the session along with a discussion about what they hoped to gain from the intervention. Two further members of the SMT attended the introductory session but declined to be videoed, although they participated in the shared reviews throughout the rest of the intervention.
The initial intervention with the SMT ran over the course of the academic year and included three ‘cycles’ of VIG. A cycle of VIG consists of a brief video of the participant interacting with their students, which the VIG practitioner edits down to short clips that show ‘better than usual’ moments of interaction, and the related shared review. These clips are microanalysed with the client/s in a shared review where the VIG practitioner facilitates a discussion about the observable moments of attuned interactions and the effect of these on the students. The participants are encouraged to consider the emotional effect of the interactions on the students as well as the behavioural effects.
The participants were videoed teaching whole classes (a maximum of 10 students) and the TA was videoed working in a separate room with two students. The school has a blanket policy that allows for students to be videoed for use within school and care was taken not to video the two students who expressed a wish to not be videoed. The videoing was explained to the students as being part of the teachers learning about what they do best when delivering lessons. In this project, on each of three occasions, three of the participants were videoed separately working with students. One video clip from each participant was micro-analysed in the shared review as a whole group of nine, including the two who had declined to be videoed. Thus, each participant experienced being videoed and micro-analysing the video with their peers. The last three participants in the group of nine were asked to take their own video and select their own clip for discussion at the shared review, developing the VIG model in to VERP.
Evaluation data was collected as comments from all participants in their final group shared review and as a written feedback form. The comments as given by the staff members were organised using the Traject Plan format and is reproduced below:
|Traject Plan areas||Current achievements/strengths||Working points/Challenges|
|Basic Communication||Bearing the student in mind: this has included being aware of being down at their level; receiving their communications; checking out your understanding; using positive body language and tone of voice as well as making positive comments or paraphrasing what the students have said to show understanding and reception.||To maintain this level of conscious application, including in more challenging situations|
|Daily Life||Staff discussed noticing a positive effect on their interactions with other members of staff as well as with the students and their parents.||To use VERP in a management meeting.|
|Development of Child||The students have become more “compliant”! Staff felt that this is because they have enhanced the way that they communicate with the boys so that there is a more deliberate positive regard in their interactions (see comments in basic communication). This has led to the boys feeling more confident about themselves, their knowledge and their ability in the classroom.||The SMT is considering using VIG with the students as it gives powerful visual feedback that they can readily see the effect of. This will mean having a trained Guider on the staff.|
|Development of Staff members||Staff reported using VERP in creative ways e.g. when giving feedback to teachers as part of their line management role.||This will be formalised into the performance management process.|
|Neighbourhood /Community||VERP has been rolled out to the wider school community so that all staff are trained in it.||To consider how to increase the impact of VERP within the school e.g. by putting up posters of the attunement pyramid.|
The feedback was overwhelmingly positive, beginning with the SMT who said that they found it useful in a range of contexts, not just their classroom management e.g. one member talked about using it as part of her lesson observations and this sparked a discussion about using it during line management. They were enthused and discussed how they embed VERP and the principles of attuned interactions within the school ethos e.g. by putting up posters around the school.
Evaluation was also invited by completion of a feedback form asking what they had found useful about the intervention and what changes they would make in their everyday practice. This was emailed to the school once all staff members had completed VIG, two academic years after the project had started. The intervention was not designed as a research project and, possibly due to restrictions on staff members’ time, only three out of 28 forms were returned. These, however, reflected the comments summarised above, e.g. that they were deliberately using the strategies in more challenging situations that had previously been unconscious and that they had learnt from observing their colleagues. They also noted the need to make time to reflect on their teaching as well as asking each other to notice the principles of attuned interactions as they happened.
As the school’s link EPs, we have noticed a reduction in the number of ‘urgent’ referrals throughout the year, from approximately three or four a term, to none (autumn term, 2015). It must be noted, however, that this cannot be directly attributed to VIG as there are many other factors to consider e.g. the reduction of what the Educational Psychology Service was able to offer through its link EPs. It also enabled us to develop good working relationships with all staff members.
There were a number of challenges from our perspective as practitioners and some of these were due to our inexperience in delivering VIG as a group rather than with individuals, and in understanding the difference between VIG and VERP (this project was delivered before the book Video Enhanced Reflective Practice: professional development through attuned interactions, 2015, by Kennedy, Landor and Todd was published). There were practical difficulties, e.g. finding a time when all group members could attend the shared review and there was typically one member missing from each shared review. We did not succeed in formulating helping questions either as a group or with each group member; however their comments at the end of the final shared reviews indicated that they had come to the intervention with their own objectives in mind. The first round of teaching staff, as opposed to SMT, was difficult to enthuse initially; however, once this group of staff had experienced the full cycle, the remainder of the staff were very keen to participate. This suggests that the staff were talking about it amongst themselves and communicating their enthusiasm for the project.
The future challenge is how to continue to fund the use of VIG/VERP in schools as budgets have been cut. At the time that we delivered this intervention, we were able to offer it free to the school; however, this is no longer possible. This has also meant that the school’s initial intention to have at least one member of staff trained as a guider, to be able to use it with their students and to offer it as an outreach service to their parents, has had to be shelved. Despite this, the intervention was received very well by all members of staff and evidence of it is in daily use within the classrooms and around the school.
Louise Lomas is an Educational Psychologist, AVIGUK accredited practitioner and trainee supervisor; contact email@example.com.
Kennedy, H., Landor, M., & Todd, L. (2011). Video interaction guidance: A relationship-based intervention to promote attunement, empathy and wellbeing. London: Jessica Kingsley
Kennedy, H., Landor, M., & Todd, L. (2015). Video Enhanced Reflective Practice: Professional development through attuned interactions. London: Jessica Kingsley