Posted on April 29, 2021 by engage


  • TBC

To register, please email us at engageintheirfuture@gmail.com and we’ll send you the joining details.

   *    *    *    *

#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.

   *    *    *    *

Previous #engage_and_connect sessions

Tuesday 27th April 2021 with Nick Whittaker HMI Specialist Adviser, Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities

It was great to welcome Nick to our eleventh #engage_and_connect session and hear him speak about ‘What we have learned about the experience of children and young people with SEND during the pandemic’.

Nick considered how schools might develop a connected approach that draws on those theoretical approaches, balances them with the lived experience of their school community over the last twelve months and consider how they can be integrated across policy and practice to best support meeting the expectations and requirements in the short, medium and long term of the Ofsted inspection framework

He also recommended checking the Ofsted YouTube channel for resources and information, and their rolling update service.

 *    *    *    *

Wednesday 24th March 2021 with Professor Barry Carpenter

We were delighted that Professor Barry Carpenter joined us for a second #engage_and_connect session.

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the mental health of children and young people. As we start to consider the implications of the road map back to “normality”, many schools will be asking how the experience has affected the child as a learner. Many children have become disengaged, and upon return from another lockdown our quest will be to re-engage them and re-ignite the flame of learning.

Participants considered the impact of the pandemic on children’s mental health, how we might rebuild emotional resilience in children, patterns of vulnerability related to the pandemic, the process of re-engaging the disengaged, and compassionate leadership and a culture of kindness.

 *    *    *    *

Tuesday 23rd February 2021 with Rich Berry

Following his session in January around supporting the mental health of school leaders and staff, this session saw Rich focus on the mental health of children and young people facing SEMH challenges.

Statistics show that the Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the mental well-being of our children and young people. Rich shared some of the neuro-science behind why emotional connections and relationships are so important to good mental health.

A recording of the session is available here –


Tuesday 9th February 2021 with Pete Smith

During the Autumn term 2020 following a major incident, one of the engage in their future member schools experienced three visitations – a joint HMI and Local Authority Safeguarding inspection, an Ofsted Care Assurance inspection (the next day) and an Ofsted ‘Research Visit’. In short, a full diagnostic into the past, present and future and all during a pandemic (and just before Christmas!).

Pete Smith, Deputy Head Teacher at West Kirby School and College and engage in their future Regional Representative for the North West shared this experience and what the school community learnt from it during this ‘Lockdown in Lockdown’ #engage_and_connect session.

Pete shared how the school community navigated the unprecedented challenges, handled the questions posed by Ofsted, and explained some of the techniques they adopted to protect and nurture the mental health of all stakeholders, all with a view to helping support colleagues prepare and plan for future inspections in this a most unprecedented time.

An edited recording of the session is available here –

The slides from the session are available here –

Lockdown in Lockdown presentation2

Some of the links included in Pete’s presentation are –


Tuesday 19th January 2021 with Rich Berry

The first #engage_and_connect session of 2021 was held on Tuesday 19th January when we welcomed Educational Consultant and Co-Chair of engage in their future Rich Berry to consider –

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

Rich highlighted the importance of us all being mental health aware,  recognising the signs of anxiety and mental stress, and not neglecting our own mental well-being. He shared practical advice and tips, as well as sign posting other resources.

A recording of the session is available here –


Friday 13th November 2020 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 2020 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 2020 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 2020 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 2020 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 2020

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

Log into your account

This will pre-load some of your contact details and apply your member's discount.
Forgotten password?

If you are a paid up member of engage in their future but have not yet registered for this website

Register now

engage in their future members receive
10% discount on tickets for this event

Would you like to learn more about the benefits of membership?
Would you like to continue as a non-member?