In these unprecedented times, our connections have never been so important so the theme of the 2020 National Creative Awards – “Connections” – proved to be very topical and seemed to really resonate with everyone that took part. This led to some incredible creativity, thought and effort across all the categories. Our congratulations to everyone that took part.
Results for the 2020 National Creative Awards were announced in early June and all participants were contacted to let them know the outcome of their entry.
In response to these strange and often challenging times, engage in their future wanted to best to facilitate and deliver a forum that would allow our members to not just connect but to also contribute to, and benefit from, the knowledge and experience that had been gathered over recent weeks by colleagues across the national network of members.
There was a strong feeling that what was needed were during these unprecedented times were online sessions that provided colleagues with the opportunity to talk, share, listen and realise that they are not alone. A series of #engage_and_connect sessions that did just were organised, welcoming an incredible line-up of guest speakers to share their work and views in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and the impact on schools and SEMH education.
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 took 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.
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 1st 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.
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.
Report from the football tournament hosted by Shenstone Lodge School
The second 2020 regional football tournament was hosted Shenstone Lodge School in early March with eleven schools taking part. The exceptional standards of fair play and team spirit evident at the first tournament continued, and there was plenty of football talent on show.
In addition, NASS have pulled together a list of useful and relevant guidance, information and links to further support schools at this time and we are immensely grateful for their comprehensive and insightful analysis and resources:
NASS have also shared some well-balanced and comprehensive reflections on more recent developments that colleagues will no doubt find useful, especially as they also contain a number of useful online links –
The last few weeks have probably been the most challenging for all our colleagues across all sectors of education. We recognise that as Heads within our sector you have probably had to deal with more issues than most and understand that that will have placed an extraordinary strain on you and your staff. Our members, their students and the SEMH community are our priority and the last thing we want to do is add to that strain with extra calls and emails. Whatever the circumstances of your school though, engage in their future is here to support you however you need us so please reach out and contact us with your concerns, queries or just to share and connect: the Regional Representatives and other members of the National Committee are available.
2020 National Conference
We have decided to postpone our National Conference in July for a year.
We also decided to change the theme to encompass well being and resilience, but also thought it sensible to ask you what you felt about the focus and whether you would like any other areas to be covered. If you would like to suggest anything please get in touch with your Regional Representative.
If you have already paid for your place at the National Conference information will come out to you from Georgina shortly.
As a National Committee we are really aware that prior to this crisis everyone was working incredibly hard on developing their curriculum provision and that recent events have taken that focus away. We plan to try and consolidate the work around curriculum and the learning of the last few weeks by holding an online webinar in the autumn which we hope as many of you as can will join.
2020 National Awards
We have also decided to postpone our National Awards. This year would have been the 10th anniversary of the scheme and we will make sure that anyone due to be nominated this year doesn’t miss out so please continue to submit nominations as usual.
Plans for next year are already being worked on.
2020 National Creative Awards
Many schools have used the National Creative Awards as part of their home study packages (if you haven’t please feel free to include it). The deadline is Friday 1st May. A reminder that all the information around the National Creative Awards is on our new website – click here for details.
Peer to Peer Support
For many the last few weeks has seen Heads having to make decisions they never thought they would have to around school closures and supporting the most vulnerable. We know that our young people will struggle in this time of uncertainty and will also struggle to return to the routines of school when are eventually able to return. As such we would like to encourage all of you to use the peer to peer network support chat room on the website. On the assumption that we will all have come across things new to us “no question is off limits”. This will enable all of us to support each other whilst we are in lock down.
2020 Football Tournament
This event has been postponed until further notice and the schools involved will be contacted.
NASS NASS have been providing excellent updates on the issues affecting special schools around the Covid-19 pandemic. We are extremely grateful for all their hard work and their willingness to share it.
In the meantime your health and well being is a priority so please get in touch if you need advice or support.
engage in their future would like to extend a huge thank you to NASS for their work during these unusual times. Their focus on the key issues, ability to dissect the information available, and tireless efforts to represent special schools is massively appreciated by the engage in their future community.
One of the members of the engage in their future Advisory Committee – Richard Boyle – has been tasked, alongside Lucy Atherton of IPSEA and Carol Kelsey Parent Carers Forum, by NSENDF to derive a think piece on Zero Tolerance in schools. As part of this they have been asked to circulate the following series of questions –
Zero tolerance behaviour policies: what are they, and do they work?
Are they lawful?
What is their impact on children / young people?
What are the alternatives / evidence supporting alternative approaches?
Responses are required as soon as possible. Details will be shared with engage in their future, especially if information is presented on behalf of the organisation (though anonymity will of course be respected).
Please respond directly to Richard Boyle at – firstname.lastname@example.org