Bristol Positive Behaviour Support Service (PBSS)


Bristol PBSS was used as a case study for ‘Paving the Way’, as an example of an excellent local service for children with learning disabilities and behaviour that challenges. Freddy Jackson Brown, a clinical psychologist in the service, tells us why it works.


The Bristol Positive Behaviour Support Service (PBSS) delivers individually tailored therapeutic programmes to learning disabled children whose challenging behaviour placed them at risk of school exclusion and out of authority placement. For the last 10 years the Bristol PBSS has worked to support children and their family’s wellbeing and quality of life. The service has not only successfully kept most children in their local schools, but has saved £1.8 million in the last 4 years alone.



Aaron during a therapy session


In order to deliver high quality services, we have found that the key to success depends on a number of interlocking elements:

  • Good working relationships – with children and their families, and other professionals and agencies
  • Clear functional principles – understanding the principles behind PBS, rather than just a series of techniques, allows us to problem-solve when things aren’t working
  • Long-term planning – successful because our commissioners understand the need to plan years in advance

Promoting good practice nationally is critical, as is ensuring suggestions for improvement are taken on and faithfully delivered. One way to support good practice more widely is to evaluate service efficacy against clear outcomes targets, e.g. using tools that show positive behaviour change and quality of life. 

I feel passionately about giving our kids the same life opportunities as other children. This is a political and social justice issue about making sure there is a place for everyone in our society. I am immensely proud of the team I manage who work hard and creatively every day as they seek to help children learn new skills and have a better quality of life. I feel angry about the lack of specialist provision available for our families, who often have to struggle on alone, battling for even basic support and care. We are a wealthy enough society to be able to provide more for our most needy kids.


Freddy Jackson Brown

Clinical Psychologist, Bristol PBSS



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