What's New?

28 Apr 2020

We’re here if you need us

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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.

Connected Curriculum
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 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.

Stay Safe!
In the meantime your health and well being is a priority so please get in touch if you need advice or support.

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28 Apr 2020

Thanks to NASS

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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.


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13 Mar 2020

Zero Tolerance in Schools: Your Views

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 –

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  • 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 – riteboyle@outlook.com

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03 Mar 2020

2020 Football Tournament Report

Report from the football tournament held at WHSS

The first 2020 regional football tournament was held at The William Henry Smith School at the end of January with eight schools taking part. The event was a tremendous success with exceptional standards of fair play and team spirit.

A report on the event, written by one of the students that took part is available to read here.

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29 Jan 2020

New branding and website

engage in their future is excited to announce the launch of our refreshed brand identity and confirm that our new website is now officially live!

Visitors to www.engageintheirfuture.org can now enjoy more relevant content, clearer navigation and a fresh new feel that includes our new look logo. Plus, members will further benefit from a new limited access area – only available to them – that includes a dedicated resources section, a peer to peer support service, and the facility for submitting grant requests and event bookings online.

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Sue Ackroyd and Richard Berry, Co-Chairs of engage in their future said –

“It is important to us that engage in their future have a user-friendly website that provides useful content about the organisation as well as resources relevant to those working in the SEMH education sector. The creative style of the new website ensures that all this is provided in an attractive visual format with intuitive navigation.

We’re also really pleased that the site has enabled us to deliver another membership benefit through the inclusion of a dedicated area – accessible only to member schools – that includes a unique facility that supports online peer to peer networking. This feature will nurture the provision of support and the sharing of best practice that is so important to all of member schools across the national network.

The new website going live also coincides with the launch of our refreshed brand identity. Our new logo represents two of the fundamental elements of the organisation – cohesion and support – through a fresh new design and colour scheme.

With a new website and revitalised brand identity in place, engage in their future is excited and ready to thrive in the new decade and beyond.”

Visitors to the new website are welcome so whilst you’re here, why not take a look around, sign up for our newsletter and find out more about engage in their future and how your school can benefit from membership!

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18 Dec 2019

National Awards Launch

We are delighted to launch our 2020 National Awards! Members were sent their information packs in February and further information about how to submit nominations can be found on our Get Involved page.

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15 Nov 2019

National Conference 2019

Back in July 2019, the engage in their future National Conference travelled to the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Stratford Upon Avon where delegates enjoyed a programme of keynote talks and workshops around the theme of ‘Engaging With Our Behaviour … Building Resilient Communities’.

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Having welcomed guests and provided an outline of what they should expect over the next day and a half, Chair of engage in their future Toni Munoz-Bailey handed over to Laura Drury from Laughology to deliver the opening keynote around ‘Building Resilience and Happiness’. This interactive session encouraged delegates to get up on their feet, challenged their thinking around how happiness can be used as a coping strategy and to build resilience, and awarded prizes for the most amusing (or thoughtful!) answers to Laura’s questions. As one delegate said, “Funny, interesting – perfect start!”.

After a quick refreshment break, delegates dispersed to the various syndicate rooms for the first of three workshop sessions. Delegates were able to select from a choice of four options ….

Donna Murray from Te Ara School in New Zealand invited delegates to “Walk In My Footsteps” as she shared her personal journey through New Zealand’s education system. She drew on her first hand experience of how the Maori population were historically treated, the cultural impact this has had, and how this influenced her decision to go into teaching.

‘Positive Behaviour Support – past, present and future. Our journey so far’ was the focus of the workshop from Barrie Campbell and Sarah Ayache from The William Henry Smith School. For some, this session provided a useful insight into how another setting has established this provision, whilst for others it provided useful advice and examples that they could take away and use back in their own school as they move through or consider a similar process.

With many years of experience to draw on and retirement from his current role on the horizon, John d’Abbro from New Rush Hall School is uniquely placed to reflect on ‘40 Years in Our Sector: what has and has not worked for me’. With so much to share, the experience and advice that John imparted was useful and relevant to everyone, regardless of their own term of office, background or current job role.

PDA was a subject addressed in a keynote during the 2017 conference but such is its continued importance that it was the focus of the workshop from Daniel Hunnisett from High Grange School this year. Daniel’s exploration of the topic specifically focused on ‘Supporting Students Experiencing PDA’ and provided delegates with ideas that could be taken back to school to share with and support colleagues.

With the workshop sessions over, delegates returned to the main conference room to hear the second keynote talk of the day. Bernard Allen is always well received and his session on ‘Tempering Anxiety and Building Self-Control’ was no exception. With a clear link to the conference theme, delegates were once again impressed, with one describing the talk as “very informative and thought provoking”.

The first day of the conference closed with regional meetings followed by the AGM. At the latter, it was confirmed that several individuals would be standing down from their current role either due to a change in personal circumstances or because they had reached the end of their term of office: Toni Munoz-Bailey (Chair), Sue Asher (Treasurer), Brendan Heneghan (Secretary), Richard Boyle (South East Regional Representative and Vice Chair), Mary Rayner (East Regional Representative).

Members subsequently agreed to the introduction of a new Co-Chair arrangement to lead the National Committee and duly elected Sue Ackroyd and Richard Berry to the roles. In addition, Mel Marris came forward to fill the role of Secretary, and Tania Craig to take on the role of Treasurer.

Day two of the conference was opened by Jonathan Cobb from Te Ara School in New Zealand. Jonathan spoke about ‘engage in their future and Activity Centres New Zealand: A Hikoi / travelogue and a partnership’. He explained about the education system in New Zealand and, more specifically, the provision for children and young people facing SEMH challenges, and how with support and input from engage in their future, they are working with the Government to establish a thriving SEMH education sector.

The programme then launched straight into Teach Meet. This session exemplifies the concept of sharing good practice is a highlight of the conference programme for many delegates as they get to hear colleagues share their ideas and experiences, providing invaluable tips and advice. These are all delivered within a two minute window, strictly enforced by compere Larry Bartel!

Delegates returned to the room after a refreshment break to hear the closing keynote of the conference. ‘It’s Time to Take the Far Right Seriously’ was the advice from Nigel Bromage from Small Steps, an organisation established to provide support and training to counter far right extremism. Speaking from personal experience, he urged delegates not to under estimate the threat of the far right and explained many of the tactics that they employ to recruit and radicalise.

The conference was then closed by Toni, although many delegates chose to stay on to enjoy lunch and continue to network with colleagues.

The 2020 National Conference proved to be another successful event, delivering a relevant programme of high quality keynote speakers and workshops, and encouraging networking amongst colleagues from across the country.

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15 Nov 2019

Greetings from our partners in New Zealand

Last summer a number of engage in their future members visited New Zealand to meet with Activity Centres’ NZ National Body who work in the same educational field.

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Naku te rourou nau te rourou ka ora ai te iwi

With your basket and my basket the people will live

This Maori proverb exemplifies the way in which two organisations, half a world apart, can work together so that young people not only live but thrive.

As a result of a series of serendipitous events, engage in their future and Activity Centres’ NZ National Body found out about each other and realised that we were working in the same educational field and that we had much to learn from each other and much to share.

Each party brought their ‘mana’ to the table and through conversation, presentations at each other’s conferences, skype meetings etc a strong bond has developed.

Here in New Zealand the presence of 8 key engage in their future members (including Toni Munoz-Bailey, the then Chair) at our inaugural Activity Centres’ Conference energised us and gave us momentum. It also opened doors for us with government departments and most importantly with the Minister responsible for developing a new ‘Learning Support Action Plan’ – a major overhaul of the way in which all learners access relevant support. They also provided Tracey Martin (Associate Education Minister) with schools to visit in the UK that would inform her vision for the shakeup that was about to happen in New Zealand.

As a result of this relationship with the Minister we have been able to be at the table and have input into the content of the Action Plan. At each stage of this journey we have been able to have conversations with Toni, Sharon, John and other engage in their future members (via skype, email and whatsapp) so that our ideas can be tested and sharpened. As I write, the fine details are beginning to take shape and the interesting thing is that it uses many of the ideas and thoughts that our UK colleagues have shared with us. So it may not be overstating things to say that engage in their future has helped to shape the ‘at risk’ provision of a nation!

So a big Kia Ora to our dear friends at engage in their future. We look forward to seeing you all again and if you’re ever in the neighbourhood then get in touch and stay for some Kai.

Donna, Jenny, SueAnn and Jonathan
Activity Centres’ NZ National Body

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