Descriptions of the main themes and topics that our speakers intend to cover in their sessions are outlined below to assist you in gaining a strong overview of the conference:

Dr Pooky Knightsmith: KEYNOTE, CROSS-PHASE

When students return to school in September 2021, we will be 18 months into a pandemic that has had a profound impact on the mental health and welling of many young people – especially those with preexisting mental health conditions. This very practical session will discuss what kind of mental health and wellbeing challenges students may be struggling with come the new academic, what the early tell-tale signs are that professionals should be on the look-out for, and how we might intervene. Drawing on her vast experience and expertise, Dr Pooky Knightsmith will describe a number of potential conditions that we can expect young people to be affected by, including those which will have been exacerbated by the pandemic. She will describe the various, potential early warning signs and how we might intervene, refer or signpost in order to ensure our students access the right support. From anxiety and self-harm to emotionally based school refusal or post-traumatic stress disorder, this session promises to be very practical and insightful for delegates.



Richard Evans has spent the last decade learning from pupils in lower sets and in nurture and tuition groups. One of the fruits of their joint labour is "the passport" – a tool designed to assist teaching staff in helping pupils develop their emotional literacy. In this session for both primary and secondary delegates, Richard will discuss why emotional literacy is so vital to pupil outcomes – both pastoral and academic. He will set out strategies and ideas for teaching and developing emotional literacy skills, how school leaders can encourage and support this agenda, and he will discuss his passport approach – as described in his book Independent Thinking on Emotional Literacy (Crown House Publishing) – and how it might be adapted for your school.


Hannah Wilson:

In this practical session, Hannah Wilson will consider the key principles of effective whole-school mental health & wellbeing and offer some ideas, suggestions, and tweaks to practice that could help your school to become a mentally healthier place to be. She will look at how schools can create a culture of wellbeing, supporting both staff and pupils. She will consider both reactive and preventative interventions, your mental health processes and services, and breaking down barriers to mental health. Hannah will also look at how this work goes hand-in-hand with equality and inclusion. A significant risk factor for a mental health problem manifesting is the experience of race, religion or sexuality. What can your school do about this? Are your wellbeing practices accessible for your Black and minority ethnic groups or LGBT+ students? How culturally sensitive are your mental health processes and services? Ultimately, Hannah will offer pause for reflection about your school's wellbeing and inclusive practices, including behaviour management practice, the structure of the school day, and how wellbeing is promoted overtly and covertly throughout the school.


Elizabeth Rose:

With new statutory guidance coming into force from September 2021 and two academic years that have been significantly impacted by Covid-19 behind us, now is a good time to review safeguarding structures that we have in place to recognise, respond to and support children who are experiencing mental health issues. Mental health falls under the umbrella of safeguarding in different ways – as a safeguarding issue in itself, as a possible sign of abuse or exploitation and as a key consideration in the development of your culture of safeguarding. In this session we will look at where mental health fits into the wider picture of safeguarding in schools, what the guidance says (and what this means!) and lots of practical tips, strategies and ideas to support mental health and safeguarding provision across your school or college.


Kelly Hannaghan: WORKSHOP, PRIMARY

This workshop will offer practical advice on embedding the role of Senior Mental Health Lead in your primary school. Kelly Hannaghan, who has extensive experience leading mental health and wellbeing work across a number of primary schools, will discuss what the role entails, why it is important, how to choose the right person for the job, and how to audit your school's mental health and wellbeing provision. The workshop will also touch upon whole-school priorities, effective approaches to mental health and wellbeing, and suggestions for useful and impactful interventions.


Clare Erasmus: WORKSHOP, 

The role of Designated Mental Health Lead was first set out in the government's 2017 Green Paper Transforming children and young people’s mental health provision. Since then, ministers have pledged to offer training for a DMHL in every school by 2025. The DMHL will oversee a school's mental health support work and help staff to spot the signs of mental health problems among other duties. So what does the job spec of an effective DMHL look like in the secondary school? In this workshop, Clare Erasmus will outline the key principles of best practice for the secondary DMHL, their key skills and attributes, how they must work with staff, school leaders, pupils and families, and the common challenges faced in the role. The workshop will offer schools a practical checklist to help them plan, implement and evaluate their DMHL role. Clare is author of The DMHL Yearly Planner and Checklist (due out in August from Jessica Kingsley Publishing) and The Mental Health and Wellbeing Handbook for Schools (Jessica Kingsley). She has worked for the past seven years as a DMHL and this September will be stepping up to become a DMHL Advisor, overseeing a growing Mental Health & Wellbeing Team.


Federika Roberts: KEYNOTE

This conference is focused on student wellbeing and mental health, but we cannot support our young people unless we adopt a whole-school approach, ensuring everyone in the school community has the opportunity to flourish and everyone’s mental health and wellbeing is considered and supported - from strategic planning and policy-setting to practical everyday applications and interactions. Much of Frederika’s work with schools, as well as her academic work and research, focuses on whole-school approaches to wellbeing. In this session, she will share key considerations for such approaches –for pupils, staff & families. She will also offer a number of practical suggestions, tools and resources for schools to consider as part of their staff wellbeing strategies, informed by her work and the examples she highlights in her book, For Flourishing’s Sake (2020, Jessica Kingsley Publishing) and in her chapter in The Big Book of Whole School Wellbeing (Evans, Hoyle, Roberts & Yusuf, 2021, Corwin/SAGE). Delegates will have the opportunity to experience some practical techniques for themselves and be encouraged to reflect on how they and their schools can move forward in enhancing staff wellbeing.



In terms of protecting pupils' mental health, a key part of schools' work must be effective Relationships, Sex and Health Education (RSHE). Since RSHE became statutory, there has been a focus on updating the curriculum and school policy to comply with the new government guidance. With those changes largely in place, how will we know that Relationships and Sex Education is meeting the grade? In this workshop, Lucy will explore a set of evidence-based criteria for successful RSE; unpick some common sticking points in providing open and honest RSE that meets children and young people’s needs, and identify steps for sustaining parental engagement and staff development.



In light of the Everyone's Invited revelations and Ofsted's subsequent review of sexual harassment, violence and abuse in schools, safeguarding leads and school leaders have been reviewing their practice, evaluating how they protect and support their students. A key aspect of this is education, via the statutory RSHE curriculum. Another aspect is wellbeing support for those pupils who come forward to report abuse. In this workshop, Amelia Jenkinson will look at how schools can utilise the RSHE curriculum to tackle these issues, what support processes should be in place, what effective education looks like and how we can ensure student safety and wellbeing.


Shahana Knight: KEYNOTE

It is crucial that school staff understand how behaviour and mental health are linked. We must also understand the mental health challenges young people face in the context of the world we live in today, the Adverse Childhood Experiences that affect too many, the role (and threats) of technology and much more. When children struggle to regulate their emotions and manage their feelings, this directly affects their mental health. So if we want to help young people with their mental health, our "teaching" of effective wellbeing and coping strategies has to be embedded into teaching and learning and wider school practices. Teachers must also be equipped to know how to respond and guide pupils who are struggling.

In this session, Childhood Trauma Specialist Shahana Knight will set out a number of practical strategies to help us support pupils to manage their feelings, behaviour and wellbeing. She will discuss using therapeutic language to upskill and teach the pupils – namely increasing emotional intelligence and self-awareness by using therapeutic language and responses to help pupils identify their feelings and emotions and therefore not become so "hijacked" by them. She will also touch upon how to respond to behaviour with a connection rather than disconnection – acknowledging that children who are "misbehaving" are communicating that they need help to regulate their feelings and emotions. All behaviour is linked to an emotion, Shahana reminds us.

Finally, she will offer practical skills and techniques to help us to do all this without basing our responses on punishment. She will explain why detention, punishment, shouting and "sending them out" does not work and what teachers can do instead. Ultimately, the session will offer delegates a range of practical things they can implement in the classroom or school as a whole which encourage pupils to learn about how to take care of their own mental health.


Lisa Whitworth, Matthew White and Carole Clark: WORKSHOP, SECONDARY

Sidmouth College has won the Gold Mental Health Award given by the Carnegie Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools at Leeds Beckett University. It is also a lead school in the Building Resilient Learners project and has effectively implemented the RSHE curriculum, exceeding the provisions as set out in the government's 2019 RSHE guidance. In this workshop, we will hear about the breadth of the school's work, their lessons learned, the core principles of mental health practice, as well as a range of ideas and approaches that could be adapted by other schools. The session will be led by Lisa Whitworth, Senior Lead on the Building Resilient Learners project, and will hear from the school staff who led the work on the Gold Mental Health Award, including the mental health lead and PSHE lead.



In this workshop, Thérèse Hoyle will offer an introduction to the Coaching Circles approach to supporting emotional wellbeing and mental health for primary school pupils. She will explain how the technique can develop emotional literacy as well as a whole-school approach to enhancing values, based on the 4 Rs of relationships, responsibility, resilience and respect. The workshop will discuss a repertoire of games that build social, emotional and relationship skills, as well as touching upon ways to resolve conflict through a peaceful problem-solving process and promoting children’s personal, social and emotional development. The session promises to offer a range of practical ideas, advice and approaches.



In this practical session aimed at primary colleagues, Adrian Bethune will discuss what wellbeing is, what the research says about the link between wellbeing and attainment, and three simple ideas to take away – tribal classrooms, rewiring the negativity bias, and acts of kindness. Adrian is a part-time teacher a primary school in Aylesbury, the Education Policy co-lead at the Mindfulness Initiative, founder of Teachappy and dad to two young boys. In 2012, he was awarded a ‘Happy Hero’ medal by Lord Richard Layard at the House of Lords for his work on developing wellbeing in schools. Adrian is author of the award-winning Wellbeing In The Primary Classroom – A Practical Guide To Teaching Happiness (Bloomsbury, 2018) and co-author with Dr Emma Kell of A Little Guide to Teacher Wellbeing and Self-care (Sage, 2020).



Southend High School for Boys has recently been awarded Enhanced Healthy Schools Status – Emotional Health and Wellbeing. In this workshop, Gareth March will take a practical look at the work that has led to this recognition, including the school's strategy to support pupils' wellbeing. This will include work that has taken place during the Covid-19 pandemic and the workshop will look at the school's "lessons learned" during this period and how they intend to carry forward their practice. Strategies include student and staff wellbeing surveys, utilising EP support, small group interventions, prioritising sport & exercise, and more. The school has also been a Trailblazer for the roll-out of the government's Mental Health Support Team policy and the workshop will explain how this has worked in practice as well as any "lessons learned".



Many schools adopt trauma-informed practice approaches to supporting their pupils social, emotional and mental health. In the context of the pandemic, trauma-informed practice is more crucial than ever. In this practical workshop, Mike Armiger will outline exactly what trauma-informed practice is and what it can look like in the mainstream school environment. He will consider how schools can use trauma-informed approaches as they support the wellbeing of their students as the pandemic hopefully recedes and we recover together. Mike is a former head of educational provisions specifically for young people affected by trauma, care experienced children and children with SEND and mental health needs. One of his main roles is as a specialist school improvement advisor in relation to SEMH, with a particular expertise in trauma and he supports professionals with practice, response, systems, training and strategy. The session will signpost resources, offer practical ideas and strategies, and help you to tailor your pastoral/wellbeing provision.