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    Featured Episode

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

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    Season Three

    Once again, I’ve been able to talk to a rich variety of interviewees for this third 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.

    To begin, Episodes 1  and 2 are being released simultaneously, as we hear from pupils and a senior school leader about their experiences of lockdown, and how they are progressing since schools reopened.

    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 Stamps By Post and CPOMS for their generous support, without whom these free podcasts would not be available.

    Don’t miss all our earlier podcasts Catch up

    Halcyon Podcasts : Season 3

    Emma Spillane: Creating a ‘ready to learn’ environment for pupils who have experienced trauma

    S03: E09

    Emma Spillane works with schools to support them in creating a safe environment in which vulnerable can children feel calm, grounded and ready to learn. In this interview, she details 3 specific areas of interest where schools can make adjustments that make a difference to the daily experiences of their most vulnerable children.

    From connecting and providing a structure at key transition times in the day, to building positive relationships and trusted connections with key staff, and adapting the physical environment as seen through the eyes of the children, Emma’s numerous strategies are tried and trusted and always place the needs of the child first.

    This is a fascinating insight into the many simple things that can be put in place to create an environment at school where children feel safe, that they are ‘seen’ and where they are then more ready to engage in learning.

    For more information about Emma Spillane and her work please visit her website.

    The relationship between SEND, Mental Health and Exclusions in school

    S03: E08

    Faye Whittle is a SEND specialist, an education consultant and an advisor on inclusion in schools. In this episode of Halcyon podcasts, we hear Faye and Anna discuss how SEND work dovetails with that of the mental health lead and the importance of collaboration to ensure the right level of support, monitoring and evaluation of each student is correctly in place.

    Faye also goes on to share her observations that a higher proportion of pupils excluded from schools are in SEN groups, and what schools can do to protect those students, support them and adopt measures that provide a more inclusive environment. There are some actionable ideas to take away and use in the classroom too.

    Student Voice – “It’s OK not to feel OK”

    E03: S07

    Secondary school students talk openly in this interview with Anna Bateman, about their experience of mental health, both good and bad. They share their thoughts on what has helped them in school, and the progress they have made in response to the strategies the school has in place.

    From transition into year 7, throughout all school year groups, it is evident when listening to these students, that an open culture, when conversations about mental wellbeing are encouraged, is hugely beneficial to everyone.

    As one student says, “It’s OK not to be OK”. This is an empowering ‘mantra’, opening possibilities to talk, to be heard, and to take time out when things get tough.

    With thanks to the students and their Deputy Head for speaking so openly, this podcast is essential listening for school leaders, teachers, pastoral care personnel, and students themselves.

    The first 100 days as a senior mental health lead

    S03: E06

    This podcast is released to coincide with the newly launched Senior Mental Health Lead Training Grant from the Department for Education. Anna Bateman explains the need for this grant to help schools take a whole school approach to mental health, why it’s important to find the right training provider and offers two themes for success to embed mental wellbeing in schools.

    There is an accompanying article, authored by Anna, providing a comprehensive checklist for mental health leads who are either new to role, or experienced and wish to review mental health policies, support and culture in their school.

    Flexing your approach to mental health in schools

    S03: E05

    Mainstream school education treats all pupils the same; however we know that everyone is different. My interview with clinical psychologist Asha Patel explores this topic, and how Asha helps schools to flex their approach to the multitude of different mental health challenges they may face.

    Asha is passionate about early intervention to prevent children’s life chances being impaired at an early age.

    “No one wants to get mental health wrong’ says Asha. With the help of her audit tool Edupod providing clinical and coaching support, schools can be more responsive to students’ differing mental health journeys, and boost confidence across the entire teaching and support staff.

    A blueprint for primary school life after lockdown

    S03: E03

    Richard Ellis is head teacher of a primary school in a significantly challenging area. His positive, considered approach to mental wellbeing, both for his staff and children, is both practical and inspirational.

    Training mental first aiders, introducing a counselling service for staff, and embarking on a new gardening project for the children to bring them closer to nature, are just a few of his mental wellbeing initiatives that are already making a difference.

    At a time when change and challenge are the norm, resilience and adaptability are key to staying calm, prioritising interventions and settling school life back down again. Richard’s passion for creating an environment that supports development of the whole child after lockdown is an inspiration and I’d like to thank him for sharing this with us.

    Student Voice – primary school children speak of recovery from lockdown

    S03: E04

    In our second interview with school children seeking their views on the events of the past year, we speak to three year 5 pupils who express what it was like for them returning to the classroom after such a long time away.

    The children spoke candidly of ‘awkwardness’ with friends, the ‘sadness’ of not being able to see extended family members, and how ‘weird’ it felt to return to school yet remain in a bubble. Despite this, the children speak eloquently about what resilience means to them, and the strategies they use to stay confident, and to believe in themselves and their abilities.

    I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know these children, whose many wise words I am delighted to share with you in this episode.

    Creating a mentally resilient school

    S03: E02

    Anthony Beckett is a senior assistant headteacher and mental wellbeing and safeguarding lead at a secondary school in the West Midlands, the same school that our guest students in Episode 1 of this season’s podcasts attend.

    In this episode, Anna delves deeper into the successful wellbeing culture that Anthony has created, one that has succeeded in building mental resilience across the whole school, for teachers as well as students.

    I recommend this podcast for any school, but particularly for those starting out on building resilience, greater awareness of mental wellbeing and strategies for improved personal development among its young people.

    Student Voice – life during and after lockdown

    S03: E01

    Anna Bateman interviews 3 secondary school students to hear from their perspective, what life was like during lockdown and how they are coping now.

    Troy, Alara and Zarbakht speak candidly about their experiences, many of which we can probably all relate to, how they felt, what impact it had on their mental and physical wellbeing, relationships and studies.

    The students also shared their thoughts on what helped them get through such a difficult time and how schools can now support them as they transition back to the classroom and catch up on lost learning, social interaction and with friends.

    Listen now to hear more of their insights to help you use this feedback to shape your school’s response to student life after lockdown.