Posted on November 13, 2020 by engage

NEXT SESSION:  Tuesday 19th January 2021 at 11.30am

We are delighted to announce details of the first #engage_and_connect session of 2021 –

Maintaining a Window on the World That Supports the Mental Health of School Leaders and Their Staff

Taking place on Tuesday 19th January at 11.30am, this 45 minute Zoom session will help support leaders in maintaining positive health for themselves and their staff bodies. It will be led by Rich Berry, former Head Teacher. Rich is Co-Chair of engage in their future and is now an educational consultant specialising in adult and youth mental health first aid training.

As these unusual and challenging times continue, it is more important than ever that we don’t neglect the mental well-being of the adults within our school communities. This session will highlight the importance of supporting ourselves and our colleagues and provide advice to help support the mental health of school leaders and their staff.

To join this #engage_and_connect session please email us at contactus@engageintheirfuture.org and we’ll send you the invitation link and joining details.

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#engage_and_connect: Background

To support members during the challenges and pressures of the Coronavirus lockdown, engage in their future wanted to establish an effective and supportive way to keep everyone connected and provide informative sessions with relevant content using an easily accessible platform.

The answer was #engage_and_connect! A series of sessions covering a variety of topics were held during May, June and July via Zoom. Participants could talk, share and listen as well as benefit from advice, support and resources from guest speakers.

Although circumstances continue to evolve, the need for support and connection remains, as does demand for relevant, useful advice and resources.

The #engage_and_connect sessions supplement our efforts to support engage in their future members and the wider SEMH education community, but they also enable us to connect and provide participants with the reassurance that we are not alone during these unusual times.

Many will be aware of (and extremely grateful for!) the work that continues to be done by NASS, including regular updates that collate official guidance and disseminate its contents to identify the impact on specialist education. It was therefore a privilege to jointly deliver the #engage_and_connect sessions with NASS and have the opportunity to share our combined experiences more widely.

We would like to say ‘thank you’ to all of the speakers that have taken the time to join us and so willingly shared their resources, experience and expertise, and to all those individuals and schools that supported #engage_and_connect either by “dialling in” during the sessions or by visiting this website to access recordings or resources afterwards.

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Previous #engage_and_connect sessions

Friday 13th November with Carolyn Eyre

Following on from the hugely successful sessions earlier in the year, we were delighted to welcome Carolyn Eyre to the first #engage_and_connect session of the new academic year.

Carolyn had been scheduled to join us at our National Conference (which was unfortunately cancelled) but safeguarding is such a high priority issue that it was important that we still share and benefit from Carolyn’s expertise.

Carolyn’s presentation started by touching on how we got to where are now by taking a brief but relevant look at historical research, reports and guidance before moving on to the changes introduced by the most recent guidance and the implications for our schools.

Those that joined us confirmed what a comprehensive and informative session it was, and just how important our role as advocates for the children and young people that we work with is.

Carolyn has very kindly shared a copy of her presentation with us so that those who were able to join us can reminder themselves of what was covered, and those that weren’t able to make it can still benefit –

Carolyn Eyre_Nov 2020


Wednesday 1st July with Richard McCann

It was a privilege to be joined by motivational speaker Richard McCann for the #engage_and_connect session on Wednesday 1st July. Richard spoke at the engage in their future National Conference in 2011 so we knew to expect a presentation of exceptional quality, emotional content, and highly relevant messages.

Richard shared his personal experience of adversity and challenge, explained the impact that key individuals had on him, and illustrated how his “I Can” and “I Will” attitude helped him turn his life around. Through this, his own experience and appreciation of the difference that educators can have on their students was clear.

The key messages that he shared are as relevant to teachers as they are to their students: “we have the greatest capacity to grow when we’re facing to challenges”, “don’t be afraid to ask for help”, “kindness matters”.

A recording of the session is not available but to find out more about Richard, please visit his website – www.richardmccann.co.uk


Wednesday 3rd June with Professor Barry Carpenter and Sharon Gray

Hot on the heels of the #engage_and_connect session with Bernard Allen on Monday 1st June, Professor Barry Carpenter joined us on Wednesday 3rd June for the fourth #engage_and_connect.

Barry talked through his Recovery Curriculum work, the five key areas of loss, and how the Recovery Curriculum is a construct built on five levers “as a systematic, relationships-based approach to reigniting the flame of learning in each child”. He reiterated how important compassionate leadership is at this time more than ever, and how teaching is, at its core, relationship based.

Resources, ideas and useful links were shared and the value and relevance of Barry’s expertise was clearly appreciated given the positive feedback from participants.

For those who would like to revisit the session, pull out the resources and links that Barry mentioned, or share it with colleagues, and for those that were unable to make it, a recording is available here –

It was also a privilege to hear from Sharon Gray again as she provided more detail and insight on the work that she has been doing with the Embark Federation.

Sharon explained how they have been looking at the real lived experience of all stakeholders during the pandemic, how they are developing a library of resources to support students by age and stage as they return to school, and shared several useful and practical ideas to aid that transition.

Sharon’s session can be viewed here –


Monday 1st June with Bernard Allen

In his #engage_and_connect session, Bernard Allen referred to the need to take “reasonable endeavours” to minimise risk and do the best possible in the circumstances. Considering the language that we use in risk assessments, demonstrating the thinking behind certain actions and guidance, and ensuring that this is shared in the appropriate with stakeholders were also discussed.

Bernard also pointed out that, in legal cases, the test of what constitutes good practice is whether or not a particular course of action would be supported by a ‘reasonable body of professional opinion’. In drawing together such an experienced group to face these challenges we become that reasonable body. There are no experts in a position to pass down infallible guidance to leaders on the practicalities of managing schools and children’s homes in this new era. It is up to us to invent best practice by engaging creatively and sharing ideas that seem to work.

A recording is available (in two parts) here –

Resources from Bernard’s session are –


Many thanks to Bernard for sharing these and allowing us to make them available here.

You may also find this resource useful – Health and safety audit.pdf020620. Drafted in response to numerous requests from a wide range of educational settings for advice and support, we are enormously grateful to Tony Ryall and Jeannine Law for providing and sharing this document.


Tuesday 19th May with Keith Fraser, Chair of the Youth Justice Board

For those that missed the session on 19th May with Keith Fraser, Chair of the Youth Justice Board, you can view the session here.

Keith reflected on how the circumstances caused by the Coronavirus pandemic have provided an opportunity to reflect and to challenge if we should return to the “old” normal.

He also talked through how the “child first” approach must translate into strategy and operational procedures, and that it should be genuinely understood and delivered by all stakeholders and involved parties to be truly effective.


Wednesday 6th May

The first #engage_and_connect session provided a useful and informative opportunity for participants to come together. Experience, feedback and concerns were shared but it was finding reassurance that they weren’t alone in the prevailing unprecedented circumstances that proved to be so invaluable for participants. It provided a much needed forum for sharing collective support for the emotional and mental well being of school leaders who found themselves supporting so many others and facing so many challenges.


#engage_and_connect GDPR Statement

The GDPR statement for #engage_and_connect can be found here – #engage_and_connect GDPR Statement

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