Featured Episode

Welcome to Halcyon Podcasts. Anna Bateman introduces a series of podcasts that put mental health and wellbeing at its core.

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Season Two

Once again, I’ve been able to talk to a rich variety of interviewees for this second series of podcasts, enabling us to listen and learn from their real life experiences – challenges and successes. I hope you enjoy the range of topics available as they are released fortnightly over the coming months.

As we progress and find our way through the disruption that the Covid-19 pandemic has caused to the education system, the subject of these podcasts for series 2, (and series 1), seem even more relevant and useful, not just to mental health leads, but to all teaching staff in schools, to support them and help them to support their pupils too.

For many years, I have had a passion to share the insights and knowledge gained in my work with school leaders, pastoral staff and students. It’s what inspired me to create these series of podcasts and accompanying resources to help inform practice and benefit staff and pupils. I also believe passionately in listening to the youth voice, to hear what life is like for youngsters today so that the right type of support and language is utilised in schools.

I hope you find the podcasts useful in your role.

Huge thanks go to our sponsors Jigsaw PSHE and CPOMS and National Online Safety for their generous support, without whom these free podcasts would not be available.


Don’t miss Season 1 : Interviews with Everyday Experts Catch up

Halcyon Podcasts : Season 2

Supporting staff and pupils’ mental health remotely

S02: E01

In this first episode of season 2 of Halcyon Education podcasts, Anna Bateman interviews Keri Haw, a mental health lead working in an all-through school.

Keri shares her insight and wisdom about how schools can adapt during these difficult times during the Covid-19 lockdown, and acknowledges the importance of looking after the mental wellbeing of staff as well as pupils as schools slowly reopen.

Our handout this week is shared with you thanks to the kind generosity of Cofton Primary school who have put together a comprehensive Post Covid Transition Policy to help schools prepare and manage the safe return of pupils and teachers to the classroom.

National Online Safety – the good, the bad and the ugly

S02: E12

Anna Bateman interviews Chris Skinner, senior consultant with National Online Safety, to highlight the ongoing risks of students’ increasing exposure to life online.

This year, pupils forced to study at home have added education and learning to their daily screen time. However, Chris observes that life online offers risks as well as opportunities for children, so it is incumbent on schools to ensure online safety is paramount, and at the forefront of all our minds, to protect youngsters from harm and mental stress.

Chris explains that online safety is an ever changing landscape and recommends schools take an agile approach to engaging and educating students about the risks, that reaches way, way beyond a once a term tick box exercise.

Listen now to hear more of his insights, and solutions, and feel free to download our accompanying handout to use in your setting.

Young carers – how to spot them and provide the right support

S02: E11

Anna Bateman interviews Emma Francis, Client Services Manager for Homegroup, part of Birmingham’s Mental Health Care and Support Service.

This is an enlightening discussion on the difficulty of spotting the hidden carer who often goes unnoticed when dealing with the challenge of looking after a parent or sibling who has a mental health difficulty.

Emma helps us to identify some very important signs that a child may be looking after the needs of a family member, even when the child doesn’t always realise themselves that they are in fact a young carer.

Find out more on how to spot the signs and provide support for young carers in an appropriate and supportive way.

Listen now and feel free to download our accompanying handout to use in your setting.

Believe you can achieve – with Dan Gardiner and Marcus Isaac

S02: E10

Two young entrepreneurs, Dan Gardiner and Marcus Isaac, are pastoral and learning mentors in schools, whilst also running their own clothing brand business. They come from inner city backgrounds and have faced the challenges that many youngsters face today.

In this episode, they share with us their approach to building a different kind of resilience by helping youngsters realise their hidden talents.

Success needn’t be measured by academic achievement. For many, there are other ways to achieve, by pursuing interests in the arts, music and sport for example.

Dan and Marcus say that if you believe, you can achieve. They help students identify their strengths and acknowledge their true self-worth which in turn builds confidence that they can overcome obstacles and make their way in life.

Find out more about Dan and Marcus’ valuable work in this episode.

The New RSHE Curriculum with John Rees

S01: E09

The introduction of a new curriculum for RSHE this September has given schools the opportunity to focus on how it works in the context of mental health.

John Rees of PSHE Solutions speaks to Anna Bateman about his vision for schools and how teaching methods for this subject and PSHE can help shape our youngsters.

Whilst imparting subject knowledge, John is also keen for teachers to nurture personal attributes such as self-esteem, honesty, resilience, integrity and courage, if they are to face an ever changing world with confidence.

John offers suggestions for how teachers can inspire these characteristics with more open, two way teaching methods, encouraging independent thought, debate and conversation.

Find out more about his approach in this episode.

The accompanying handout is full of links to further resources to help keep you up to date on the latest changes to the curriculum, and to more presentations from John Rees on this subject.

Student voice – a whole school approach to preparing for exam stress

S02: E08

While 2020/21’s year 11 cohort has the additional challenge of taking their GCSE’s having been out of school for several months, we examine the benefits of preparing well for exams, the importance of trusted adults and a plan for revision.

Anna interviews 3 year 11 students to ask them about exam stress, how they are feeling, and what schools can do to help prepare students for the pressure they face.

Their views include recommendations for all teachers to be trained in mental health awareness so they can be more supportive at this key time, and for preparations to begin in year 7 and continue across all year groups. Listen now to hear more of their insights and suggestions.

Our handout is full of links to key organisations that you may find useful specifically when planning training and interventions for coping with exam pressure across all school years.

Adele Bates, Behaviour Specialist – returning to school

S01: E07

In this episode, behaviour specialist Adele Bates reflects on the kaleidoscope of pupil’s lockdown experiences facing school leaders, and the challenge of meeting the individual needs of all.

The common theme running through her insights is the requirement to treat every child as an individual. Whilst some of those that normally struggle in a mainstream school environment have thrived during lockdown (though not all), there are those that normally thrive and perform well in school that have struggled while in lockdown (though again, not all).

Above all, Adele’s view is that safety and wellbeing needs must come first, and learning second as pupils return to the classroom. Add to that the understanding that teachers and leaders will have experienced a plethora of issues too, and we start to appreciate the enormity of the task facing us at the start of this new academic year.

There are lots of suggestions in this interview that can guide us through what will undoubtedly be a challenging time, along with links to helpful resources, and a useful handout to try in your setting – free writing for all, a wellbeing intervention that Adele finds most powerful.

Lincroft Student Leadership

S02: E06

Our previous episode (Episode 5) looked at a student led mental health team in primary school. In this episode, we hear from five year 11’s who are part of the Lincroft secondary school wellbeing student leadership team. This interview demonstrates the success of a wellbeing team in action, as the students explain their roles, the initiatives they have put in place to support students, and how their work has had the added benefit of taking pressure off mental health leads in school so that they can focus on students who are most in need.

The students specifically identified stigma as a barrier to their peers seeking help and support when needed, and explained how they created an open culture of discussion around mental health, to make it less scary for those in need.

The student leadership team received training in mental health, bullying, safeguarding and the teen brain, and it is evident that this has given them a fabulous insight into the subject of wellbeing. It’s also great to hear their questions at the end, when they are keen to learn more about what else they could do in their role.

Check out the link provided here to the Academic Resilience Framework talked about in this episode.

Ainthorpe Primary School – Using Headstart to give students a voice

S02: E05

It’s always refreshing to hear from students about wellbeing initiatives in their school, and this podcast episode is no exception.

In this 2 part interview, we firstly hear from pupils at Ainthorpe Primary, along with a member of their senior leadership team, who tell us about their experience of using a Lottery funded programme called Headstart.

The students received support and training to enable them to approach staff with a set of made up scenarios, and then to feedback on whether they felt the responses they received were appropriate and helpful. With open, honest dialogue, lessons were learned, improvements were made, and the wellbeing of the whole school was enriched.

We also hear from Gail Teasdale, Headstart Programme Manager in Hull, about the strategy behind the initiative and its aim to move schools away from a simple tick box exercise on the subject of mental health, towards a collaboration between staff and pupils in which the student voice plays an integral part.

Our accompanying handouts are to help you initiate wellbeing teams and activities in your school. Feel free to download and use them to suit your needs.

Episode 6 is also on the theme of Student Leadership, this time in a secondary school setting and is released together with episode 5.

Nina Jackson and the ‘slinky’ approach to a positive return to school

Season 2: E04

Our guest host Mark Goodwin from Equal Parts Education takes the reins for this episode, interviewing the beguiling Nina Jackson of Independent Thinking who is an author and renowned speaker on the subject of mental health and wellbeing in schools.

In this interview, Nina talks specifically about the challenges that pupils have faced in recent months during lockdown, and in the coming months as they prepare to return to what will be a noticeably different school environment.

Nina says throughout this time it is important to listen, to give children a chance to express how they have been feeling and balance this with focus on small yet important positives. She talks of a ‘slinky’ approach to the new challenges ahead, to keep children moving forward in a positive way. Find out what this means and how this can help you shape your approach to welcoming students back into the classroom.

Many thanks to Mark and Nina for this insightful interview, a ‘must listen’ in our opinion.

And thanks again to Mark for kindly sharing our accompanying handout – the Better Mood Worksheet. There are some great tips here we can all follow to look after ourselves and each other.

Further Resources

Resources on our website

Update on PSHE as students return to school

S02: E03

Damian Hewitt of Jigsaw PSHE, gives an in depth interview on the new role of PSHE post Covid-19 lockdown. Damian shares his vision of a whole school approach to PSHE and how to achieve this by involving all stakeholders, from teachers to students, governors to parents.

With an ‘every child, every day, every possibility’ mission statement, Damian believes strongly in listening to the student voice, and seeking all ways possible to remove barriers to achievement and happiness. Only then can real learning begin.

Find out how this translates practically into the school environment, and into the leadership for schools in particular.

Our handout is included to help you scope out what a whole school approach to PSHE looks like for your school. Please download and adapt as you see fit.

Coming soon

In our next episode, Mark Goodwin from Equal Parts Education, who also appeared in Series 2, Episode 2 is our guest host, and will be interviewing Nina Jackson from Teach, Learn, Create. These two inspiring thinkers and passionate educators, provide some entertaining, interesting and inspiring ideas for how to support pupils’ mental health not just now but in the coming months. Out 20th July.

Getting connected after isolation – An interview with Mark Goodwin

S02: E02

As we gradually welcome children back into school, it helps to have a strategy of positive communication about the times we have all been through.

There is a lot of talk in the media about the need to ‘catch up’, ‘the lost generation’ and ‘lost time’, however this does not engender a feeling of hope and positivity for staff, pupils or their parents.

Rather than using what Mark Goodwin terms a ‘deficit language’ in this insightful interview, he guides us along a path of positivity, especially when communicating with children who have really struggled during their time away from school.

Mark has also kindly shared his handout – How to Turnaround a Kid – The Cookie Jar Checklist, which is a perfectly succinct guide to preparing for and welcoming children as they return to school.

Halcyon Podcasts: An introduction to Season 2

Season 2: Episode 0

Welcome to the second season of Halcyon Podcasts, putting mental health and wellbeing in schools at the centre of our interviews with everyday experts and students. We’re delighted to bring you a range of valuable insights, advice and practical strategies, and thank all of our interviewees for the time that they have generously given to share their knowledge.

Ultimately, our aim is to help you in your role as mental health lead, to offer students the most appropriate support at any stage in their development, using the skills you gain as you listen to each episode.

All of our podcasts are supported by handouts which can be downloaded and used in your school setting.

If you missed our first season, you can listen again to all episodes here.