Our History


The National Association of EBD Schools (NAES) was formed in 1999 to enable Head Teachers within the BESD (Behavioural, Emotional and Social Difficulties) sector (or SEMH – Social, Emotional and Mental Health – as it is now known) to join together to influence BESD issues locally, regionally and nationally. The principle aims and objectives that underpinned the organisation then continue to do so now: to express a collective SEMH voice, to provide peer support, and to promote the sharing of good practice at all levels within the SEMH sector.

Since its inception, the organisation has seen many changes, not least a change in name to engage in their future! Its development has, in part, been as a result of changes within the sector, but also because of the commitment of members. The benefits of membership have been enhanced as the National Committee has extended the scope and audience of its focus.

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Key Points in our History

  • 1990: At the 1990 South West Region ‘Special Schools’ Conference, the EBD (Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties) Head Teachers forms the South West Region EBD group, which thrives throughout the 1990s.
  • 1998: The success of the South West group persuades members that a National Association is the next logical step to take. EBD Head Teachers from across the region are invited to a South West regional event and the nucleus of the National Association emerges in December 1998.
  • 1999: The National Association of EBD Schools (NAES), formed in 1998, holds its first meeting on 8th January 1999.
  • 2001: The first National Conference is held in Newport Pagnell. Now an annual event, typically held at the beginning of July, the National Conference ‘travels’ around the country to reflect the national profile of the organisation.
  • 2004: The Government adds ‘Social’ to the EBD description in order to cover the whole spectrum of issues. EBD (Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties) becomes BESD (Behavioural, Emotional and Social Difficulties).
  • 2005: NAES becomes a registered charity (No. 1110473).
  • 2008-2009: A CEO is appointed to help lead, direct and grow the Association.
  • 2009-2010: The organisation is re-branded and changes its name from NAES to engage in their future.
  • 2010: Sees the first national engage in their future football 5-a-side competition.
  • 2011: The inaugural engage in their future National Awards for students from the network of member schools is held. In the same year, the ‘extreme classroom’ concept is launched, with the first expedition taking a team of students and staff to the ‘Coldest Classroom on Earth’.
  • 2012: A team travels to Tanzania to walk the Great Rift Valley as part of the ‘Hottest Classroom on Earth’.
  • 2013: A team heads to Mount Everest Base Camp for the ‘Highest Classroom on Earth’. The National Poetry Awards is launched to tap into the creativity of the students and staff at schools from across the network.
  • 2014: The ‘Fastest Classroom on Earth’ becomes the largest adventure to date as a group of staff and students, supported by a team of non-cycling students, cycle the Tour of Mont Blanc. A smaller scale UK-based event for KS2/3 students runs alongside it.
  • 2015: Following a Raft Challenge event in May, a small group of students take part in the ‘Wettest Classroom on Earth' sailing challenge. Later that year the National Poetry Awards are developed into the ‘National Creative Awards’, following a successful regional event.
  • 2016: engage in their future offers KS2/3 students the chance to participate in ‘The Darkest Classroom’. The National Creative Awards scheme is enhanced by the introduction of the short-story writing category.
  • 2018: In July 2018 engage in their future joined forces with SEBDA to deliver a joint conference around the theme of ‘SEMH: From Theory Into Practice.’ welcoming members from both organisations. The inaugural engage in their future Sports Festival takes place at the Alexander Stadium in Birmingham.
  • 2019: A Co-Chair arrangement to lead the National Committee was proposed at the AGM, along with the introduction of an Advisory Committee to provide additional advice and support to the organisation.
  • 2020: A new brand look and website are launched.

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