Podcast Archive

Season 3 of the Halcyon Podcast series launched in May 2021. Here you will find Season 3 along with all previous episodes from Seasons 1 and 2. You can choose by theme to help you find topics on which you’d most like to focus.

There are additional handouts for you to download too, to use in your setting, and to act as reminders in the weeks and months to come.

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Treading the Line – Improving Wellbeing and Mental Health

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Anna Batemen interviews Estelle Morris, former Secretary of State for Education and member of the House of Lords. Estelle is currently working at the Institute of Effective Education and is Chair and advisor for the Birmingham Education Partnership.

Estelle shares her vision for ensuring wellbeing is at the heart of every school’s vision alongside a good standard of education. In the current political and economic climate, it’s understandable that schools focus on results and academic attainment, however Estelle believes that following a broader curriculum, allowing space for creativity and valuing the whole school community creates an environment where mental health and wellbeing are more likely to thrive.

Introducing the Mental Health in Schools Podcast Series

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Welcome to Halcyon Podcasts. I’m delighted to bring you a new series of podcasts that puts mental health and wellbeing at its core.

Each podcast contains in depth interviews with everyday experts who share their wisdom, thoughts, insights and ideas. We hear from pupils too, who speak candidly about the challenges they face day to day.

Please refer to the additional resources that accompany each episode where you’ll find supporting material to help you embed new strategies in your setting.

What happens in a CAMHS session?

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Dr Carl Harris, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, talks to Anna about what to expect when attending a first and subsequent CAMHS appointment. Given tight budgets and the reality that not all students meet the threshold for CAMHS, Dr Harris offers help and advice on how schools can support vulnerable students. He also advocates support for front line staff so that they feel more confident to approach students and have potentially difficult conversations.

Dr Harris mentions the use of the 5 P’s of Formulation, an assessment process used by CAMHS. Feel free to refer to the handout that supplements this podcast which you may find helpful to understand current difficulties, triggers, internal and external influences and current strengths.

Social media – what impact does it really have on student mental health?

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Three students from year 10/11 share their thoughts and insights into what it is like growing up in a world full of social media, the positives and negatives, and the issues that really lie at the heart of their anxieties. They also offer suggestions for how schools and teachers can do things that, for them, would make a huge difference.

From fear of missing out, to the impact that influencers have on teenage behaviour, and understanding some of the wider issues affecting students today, this interview is a window into the hearts and minds of our youngsters, with some surprising wisdom and ideas for navigating the world of social media.

Our accompanying resource refers to some of the specific points made by the students and what schools can do to help. For example, how should students manage their social media activity, and what are the positives of using social media? Please feel free to access this worksheet and use it for training and increasing awareness in your setting.

The OFSTED Framework and how it links to mental health in schools

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Anna Bateman presents a step by step guide to the new OFSTED Framework and how it links to mental health in schools. In this podcast, we look at 4 new judgment areas:

  • Quality of Education
  • Behaviour and attitudes
  • Personal Development
  • Leadership and Management

Anna shares her opinions and interpretation of the handbook, along with observations from conversations she has had with senior leaders who have experienced the new inspection framework.

Our accompanying handout gives you a comprehensive 10 step guide to the new OFSTED Framework. We recommend downloading this guide for reference as you listen to the podcast.

How to support pupils who present with a mental health difficulty in school

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Dr Carl Harris, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, shares his thoughts on how best to support young people when they present with a mental health difficulty in school. He offers excellent advice on creating a model that builds confidence for mental health leads, teachers and staff as well as students – a process that provides support for everyone involved.

He also offers strategies for managing exam stress and how to identify those vulnerable to anxiety at this potentially stressful time.

Men’s mental health – Building trust to open up mental health conversations

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In this interview with 3 secondary school boys, Anna invites comments and suggestions for what schools can do to help and support boys who present with mental health difficulties. Their shared insights and ideas are many and varied, making this podcast a must listen for all mental health leads.

An important observation they make is when boys misbehave or show uncharacteristic traits, this is often a signal that something deeper is going on. Our boys speak candidly about the importance of being listened to, and for teachers to delve deeper before administering punishments. Our accompanying handout includes links for further support for men as well as boys.

Autistic Spectrum Condition Part 1: Spotting the Signs

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Millie has recently been diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Condition after suffering over 10 years of mental health problems. She kindly shares her experiences, including what signs schools and teachers can look out for to spot ASC.

An early diagnosis can help put the support and strategies in place that are important during these developmental years and can bring about better outcomes for students.

Autistic Spectrum Condition Part 2: Strategies for Schools

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In our previous episode, we heard from Millie, who has recently been diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Condition after suffering over 10 years of mental health problems. In this episode she kindly shares what strategies schools and colleges could put in place to offer support that really could make a huge difference to students.

Suneta Bagri: Every Teacher Matters

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Suneta Bagri has been a head teacher for the last 4 years and now coaches teaching staff in the art of self care via her project Every Teacher Matters. In this episode, Suneta shares her experience of how stress affects performance and impacts pupils, and offers strategies for teachers to look after themselves and take personal responsibility for their welfare so that they can perform their roles to the best of their ability.

Suneta goes on to explain how schools can create a positive, supportive culture to promote better teacher wellbeing, sharing her 8 top tips which are also available as a PDF download.

Further Resources

Resources on our website

External Links

‘The Always Club’ – rewarding good behaviour

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Petrina Poleon is Deputy Head Teacher at Cofton Primary School. In this episode, Petrina shares her concerns that well behaved children are at risk of being invisible, and how, in her school, they have devised a reward scheme that recognises children who ‘always do the right thing’.

By creating ‘The Always Club’, children are regularly rewarded for sustained good behaviour and for being good role models. Petrina goes on to explain the practical considerations for creating an award scheme like ‘The Always Club’.

We also hear from 3 pupils who tell us what it’s like to be part of ‘The Always Club’ and how happy it makes them feel.

Mental Health Leads in School – Exploring the Role

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Dawn Dance takes us through several practical steps to embed mental health in schools.

She talks about the importance of mental health leads and the scope of the role, along with practical suggestions to help increase effectiveness of wellbeing initiatives, and how to garner support from the wider school community including staff and parents.

Dawn’s passion for this topic is evident in her interview, during which she shares some of the more meaningful strategies she has implemented that have made a real difference in her school.

Emotional Literacy – a pivotal catalyst for mental wellbeing in schools

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With new requirements for emotional literacy to become part of the curriculum this September, this podcast explains what emotional literacy is and the practical steps your school can take to wholeheartedly adopt a policy where it is included in every aspect of the school.

Anna Bateman provides this comprehensive guide and explains what schools can do to improve students’ understanding of their feelings. We also hear from Dr Mark Greenberg about the link between emotional literacy and regulation of behaviour.

This podcast includes advice on the language of emotion, how to recognise internal and external expressions of feelings, and gives tips on how to adopt adaptive rather than maladaptive behaviours when faced with feelings of overwhelm.

We recommend downloading our accompanying handout ‘Emotional Literacy in School‘ for reference before listening to the podcast.

Halcyon Podcasts: An introduction to Season 2

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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.

Supporting staff and pupils’ mental health remotely

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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.

Getting connected after isolation – An interview with Mark Goodwin

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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.

Update on PSHE as students return to school

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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.

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

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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

Ainthorpe Primary School – Using Headstart to give students a voice

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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.

Lincroft Student Leadership

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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.

Adele Bates, Behaviour Specialist – returning to school

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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.

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

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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.

The New RSHE Curriculum with John Rees

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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.

Believe you can achieve – with Dan Gardiner and Marcus Isaac

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

Student Voice – life during and after lockdown

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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.

Creating a mentally resilient school

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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 – primary school children speak of recovery from lockdown

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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.

A blueprint for primary school life after lockdown

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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.

Flexing your approach to mental health in schools

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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.