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The Bounce Back Programme

Bounce Back is a classroom resiliency programme devised by two Australian psychologists - Dr Helen McGrath and Dr Toni Noble. As both are former teachers who now work in teacher training colleges it is a very practical, teacher-friendly programme and its efficacy has been demonstrated by research. The Bounce Back programme is outlined in a accompanying Teacher's Handbook. There are also three Teachers' Resource Books. The books can be used as a stand alone resource but there is also a two-day training programme to facilitate teachers' learning about how to use the concepts and materials in the classroom. The Centre held a course, facilitated by Dr Toni Noble, in Glasgow in February 2007. The response was extremely positive that we held 3 more courses in August 2008 featuring Midlothian and Glasgow City Council.

The authors have been influenced by the Positive Psychology movement. They are aware of the dangers of deliberate, artificial attempts to build young people's self-esteem and Bounce Back doesn't include the 'all about me' type of activities which can encourage too much self-focus.

More information

For information on how to order the Bounce Back Resources or get more information on the programme go to:


Programme outline

Bounce Back has been designed for upper primary and lower secondary pupils but its authors say that once teachers or other professionals grasp the basics they can easily adapt the materials to other stages or contexts, e.g. social care.  While adolescence is obviously a time of stress for young people, McGrath and Noble argue that it is more effective to introduce ideas about resilience before they reach adolescence. However, they also believe it is better to introduce them at adolescence than not at all.

Bounce Back is based on a two-prong approach to resilience.

Environmental Factors

The first prong recognises the importance of external factors in a person?s life that help them feel resilient and cope with life?s inevitable ups and downs. Drawing on research, McGrath and Noble include the following in these environmental factors for young people:

  •  feeling connected to the school
  •  positive family-school links
  •  feeling connected to peers                                                                                        
  • supportive teacher and classroom environment
  • sense of worth from the family environment
  • one caring adult outside the immediate family
  • involvement in community life
  • part of a religious community.

Personal Coping Skills

The second prong in the Bounce Back approach to building young people?s resilience in the classroom is to develop their personal coping skills. The specific ways they suggest include encouraging more optimism, use of humour and acceptance. McGrath and Noble add to these a number of other coping skills which are vital for resilience. Interested readers can get more information from the Bounce Back Teachers' Handbook. To help young people remember the key learning points, these have been distilled into the acronym BOUNCE BACK.

The Bounce Back Acronym

Bad times don't last. Things always get better.

Other people can help if you talk to them. Get a reality check.

Unhelpful thinking makes you more upset.

Nobody is perfect - not you and not others.

Concentrate on the positives (no matter how small) and use laughter.

Everybody experiences sadness, hurt, failure, rejection and setbacks sometimes, not just you. They are a normal part of life. Try not to personalise them.

Blame fairly. How much of what happened was due to you, to others and to bad luck or circumstances?

Accept what can't be changed (but try to change what you can first).

Catastrophising exaggerates your worries. Don't believe the worse possible picture.

Keep things in perspective. It's only part of your life.

Copyright:  Noble and McGrath, 2006


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