Essex Virtual School hosted its fourth conference on 10th July 2019. Over 220 professionals met over a series of presentations and breakout sessions.
Mental Health problems can affect up to 10% of young people nationally and between 45 - 72 % of our Children in Care.
Promoting good emotional and mental health is critical in enabling them to function in society and cope with the demands of everyday life.
Our Conference was about changing attitudes, shaping futures and sharing best practice, helping schools to create a coherent approach to mental health and emotional wellbeing.
Key Speaker Bios
The conference was opened by Clare Kershaw, Director of Education. Natalie Stephenson, Headteacher of the Virtual School.
Our first speaker of the day was Scott King. Scott is an active campaigner working nationally to drive change and improve the life chances for those in and leaving care. He is a Mentor, Motivational speaker and Trainer.
Scott gave a personal account of how life in Care felt. Scott had 36 placement moves.
He described himself as having been a very challenging child and outlined the key to supporting Children in Care is to respond to how they feel and not how they behave.
After a refreshment break, our second speakers was James Hollinsley, Head of Longwood Primary Academy in Essex and Deputy Head , Hannah Sandford.
Longwood Primary Academy is a school highly respected and awarded for its proactive approach to child mental health. James is also author of the highly acclaimed book entitled Mental Health and Wellbeing in schools.
James and Hannah spoke about staff and pupil mental health and wellbeing and why it is crucial for Children in Care to be supported and on the right track. They shared their practices with the audience.
Following James and Hannah was our last speaker of the day Joel Shaljean, Operational Lead for the Essex Steps Project. Joel works therapeutically with behaviour. Joel shared best practice strategies to use back in school and focused on de-escalation principles and techniques, punishment versus consequence and the impact of experience on feelings and behaviour. He also spoke about the importance of securing a consistency of approach and shared analysis and planning tools.
After lunch, there were two short breakout sessions with Scott King, active Children in Care campaigner and Lelia Berkeley, Headteacher of St Andrews Primary school in Essex.
Lelia shared practical ideas and key resources as to how Attachment aware and trauma informed practice can support vulnerable pupils.
Scott shared more of his experiences in care and answered specific case questions from the audience.