PROBLEMS at home often have a negative affect on a child’s behaviour and performance at school, which is why Bisley Park Primary School has developed a counselling structure to help pupils with personal problems. The structure was established in May when the school hired an educational psychologist, Mayure Padayachee, in order to help children with educational, behavioural and anger problems and anxiety. Padayachee works three days a week and is paid by the school.Principal Segren Pillay said the school had the same support structure in the past, but it stopped. “We feel there is a big need for this structure in our school as we have children who come from single-parent homes, others live with ‘aunties’ because their parents work far away. “Some parents are trying to uplift themselves financially and the social and emotional development of the child is being ignored. This is where our psychologist comes in. “They [pupils] need emotional and social support. We want to help them learn how to cope at school. Some children don’t talk to their parents about their problems, but this shows in their behaviour in class as some feel comfortable talking to their teachers,” said Pillay. Pillay said the biggest problem they face at school is behaviour, and they feel that having an in-house psychologist has had a very positive impact on the school and pupils. “There is a need for a psychologist in every school because we deal with children with various problems. We have also decided that teachers can get help through this if they have problems.”The school also has an intern psychologist and a master’s psychology student from UKZN. Both go in once a week to help with the caseload at the school.Padayachee spoke about the pupil support structure, which also works with a social worker, the parent of the child and local doctors. She said that 90% of the problems that affect pupils stem from home.“Parents tend to focus on basic needs and forget about their children. As a school, we need to intervene in those problems. We need to develop these children as humans and teach them proper values.“We are also planning to host a parenting workshop with teachers where they will be taught how to deal with their child. “Emotional and psychological issues must be taken seriously. They must be aware of what is going on with their child, understand the child and get appropriate help for the child,” said Padayachee.Pillay and Padayachee believe that Bisley parents are supportive of the programme as they can see how their children have improved both academically and behaviourally.