SEMH Newsletter Jan 2020

Welcome to the first of our SEMH newsletters where we will highlight our favourite gems from around the SEMH  world from the previous month or so. 

This month we have chosen 5 to share that for one reason or another piqued our interest and made us read or watch on. 

1 – Post of the Month – Lynn Castle at St Giles Special School – Croyden

I found myself smiling all the way through this Youtube video of Lynn creating resources on a shoestring. I may not make any of the same things that Lynn does (I do have an apron just like that one! ) but her enthusiasm was infectious. I watched this on a cold and miserable day when  I was worn out. Watching Lynn reminded me of all the good bits of the job. Every school should have a Lynn and every child too. 

It was filmed and posted by Dr Pooky Knightsmith and it well worth checking out her YouTube Channel for mental health and well-being chat and tips.

2- We are In Beta Podcast – Unconditional Positive Regard

We found this podcast series very well put together. This episode has contributors from Wellspring Academy Trust and the story related by Deborah (Parent governor) was extremely powerful.

The section that resonated most with me was Luke Mitchell (Head of Behaviour Support) and his explanation of what he understands by the term ‘behaviour as communication’. His description of totally different staff responses to swearing by two different pupils was insightful and moving. He knows his stuff. Well worth a listen. 

3 – Richard Woods commentary on the National Autistic Society PDA conference

A fascinating paper from Richard Woods of Sheffield Hallam University on Demand Avoidance Phenomena (DAP) involving discussion around the categorisation of DAP as an autism subtype. It includes two new DAP profiles which have been put forward by the National Autistic Society and the PDA Society. The paper aggregates the diagnostic criteria and lists 10 with 6 being essential for diagnosis. The full paper can be viewed here. 

4 – Irish School replaces homework with acts of kindness

The Irish Post published an article about a County Cork primary school deciding to do away with homework for the entire month of December and replacing it with ‘acts of kindness’. 

This resonated with us at a time we were responding to the new DfE Character Education Guidance and considering ways in which we could improve the way we promote volunteering and service to others with our pupils. This felt like a simple, effective way in for us and are planning an ‘acts of kindness’ month for the spring term. 

5. – Lead Well – Mind and Body – Old Primary Head Blog

A moving, raw and honest post from an experienced primary headeacher who was facing up the physical toll that leading a school can have as the years tick by. We like to pretend that we are bomb proof and lead from the front. This post demonstrated the strength that can be shown when someone admits that they are struggling. Important for us all. 

If you would like to keep up to date with our pick of SEMH news then you can subscribe below. 


Chris Fielding (Academy Lead – Forwards Centre)


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