Further reading on Circle of Friends

“In an intact group the pool of shared understandings is like a shared bank account of the group wealth”

Circle of friends is an approach to enhancing the inclusion, in a mainstream setting, of any young person, who is experiencing difficulties in school because of a disability, personal crisis or because of their challenging behaviour towards others.

Over the past 16 years we have been encouraging the use of ‘circle of friends’ in a wide variety of primary and secondary schools across the UK and beyond, often with very successful outcomes. A major advantage of the approach is that it does not involve a major commitment of time from teaching staff. This is because the true work is done by the peers themselves, not the adults. The adult’s role is to meet with the circle and the focus child for around 20-30 minutes weekly to facilitate their problem solving in the early stages. Successful circles will often become largely self-sustaining and provide support for the focus child without the need for regular adult input. When there is careful planning and real commitment from the facilitator, results from the process are seen very quickly.


‘Pupils throughout the Scottish Borders have given their views on what makes the school experience a positive one, whatever their additional support needs. It shows the huge importance pupils place on friendships and relationships. Being included in the academic dimension is not enough. Children and young people value social and cultural activities – eating with others, going on school trips, taking part in games and activities with their friends. They know they need help, but want it to be as discreet as possible’.

Kathleen Marshall, Scotland’s Commissioner for Scotland and Young People 2007
Introduction to ‘Access All Areas, What children and young people think about accessibility, inclusion and additional support at school’
Read this short Article on creating Circles of Friends

Colin Newton and Derek Wilson invite closing reflections after a day in Tower Hamlets, London on their training on ‘Circle of Friends approach to friendship and inclusion.’


Work with Open Society in Armenia with a range of Countries on ‘Circles of Friends’ a great tool for inclusion. Made new friends and connections in Georgia, Belgrade, Moldova, Ukraine, Mongolia and many other places…. November 2014

Sarajevo, Bosnia – Training on Circle of friends. Wonderful group of passionate educators. The group really appreciated our range of teaching styles. There was even a Sarajevo TV film crew recording us for live TV.

Check out this wonderful animation created by the DUGA Blog Circle of friends page organisation to whom we provided training on ‘Circles of Friends’ over recent years.


We specialise in autism in mainstream schools, inclusion of students with disabilities, education psychology, autism education, community building and training on inclusion.

Check out this edition of Special Children featuring Arousha’s Circle of Friends. We worked with Bluecoat School staff and the Inclusive Education Service in Nottingham to set this circle up. Colin was Arousha’s link educational psychologist for a number of years and supported her transition to secondary education. Arousha has completely challenged many assumptions about who can cope in our city secondary schools!! Well done Arousha!

Who else might benefit from a Circle?

Circles of Support and Accountability (link to their detailed manual of practice on-line) are an organisation in Toronto, Canada who are building circles of support around sex offenders.

They were not formed to compete with existing service providers. They were formed to assist:

  • those considered by many to be the “untouchables”, or the most marginalized in our society
  • those for whom there was little or no support
  • those for whom there was no support from other governmental or non-governmental service or agency

COSA originated to meet the unique needs of sex offenders, because no one else was stepping forward to do so.



Joanne McLaughlin, Woodland National School, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal, Ireland

Joanne recently completed a Circle of Friends Masters Dissertation with the aim of establishing the impact of Circle of Friends on the self-esteem and social inclusion of a boy in primary school who had dyslexia.


Circle of Friends for Child in Public Care


A peer based approach to supporting children with autistic spectrum disorders in school

Peer Based Approach


Popcorn and Skittles: a really moving way of setting up a Circle devised in Vermont, USA

Popcorn and Skittles


Circles of Support – Stirling Scotland. The Circles Project facilitates school based circles of support for disabled children.

Stirling Scotland


Enduring Circle of Support


Click here to read about and watch useful video of Colin and Derek introducing Circle of Friends to West Sussex.

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Colin Newton

0115 955 6045

Doug Newton


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