FRIENDS at a Winsford school have helped a young boy to settle in school life.
Nine-year-old Liam Newton changed from being a quiet, shy boy to a confident pupil.
Teachers at Over Hall Primary School say the transformation has been dramatic and is noticeable in his work and attitude.
They identified the problems Liam was having and chose to set up a friendship group.
Seven pupils from Liam's Year 4 class were adopted as his circle of friends. It was started with the help and support of Year 4 class teacher Sally Power and headteacher Hillary Berry.
Teaching assistant Louise Nelis helps the pupils to support children who are isolated or vulnerable.
Louise said: 'Liam found it hard to stay in school and Circle of Friends was set up with seven children who meet once a week to play games, chat and discuss problems.
'Liam is now settled in school life.' The group meets in a school chill-out zone, and by forging friendships in a relaxed environment Liam's confidence improved.
The circle has had such an impact that Liam's mum has seen improvement in his behaviour at home and is overwhelmed by his willingness to come to school.
Louise added: 'The children in the circle know exactly what is happening. They have gone through class discussions and they come up with suggestions like playing games to help Liam.
'Liam was quite a quiet, shy boy but his confidence has certainly picked up.'
The seven members of the circle enjoy their roles. 'They are all very proud of helping Liam,' said Louise.
Everyone at Over Hall has found the scheme so worthwhile another Circle of Friends has been set up in Year 3 and a smaller informal group elsewhere in the school. Classmates spend extra time to help other pupils fit in.
The Circle of Friends initiative was thought up by members of C8 - Cheshire's alternative to exclusion - a county-wide group of education professionals. Other ideas have also been tried, including peer counselling and restorative intervention where pupils face each other if there has been an argument to resolve issues.
Over Hall is one of a handful of schools using the Circle of Friends method and Louise thinks the scheme should be encouraged.
Headteacher Hillary Berry said: 'There's improvement all round for Liam in every part of school life. To be honest, it's been revolutionary.'