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Reflections from the YST Conference 2022

Updated: Nov 21, 2023

I had the pleasure to attend the Youth Sports Trust conference this week where the theme for this year‘s conference was inspiring changemakers.

The awards evening was a great chance to reflect back on the glorious London Olympics in 2012 and then to look forward to what legacy we will create for the young people who have just started primary school now and will leave in 2035.

The theme for the conference clearly resonates with us as our company's name is based on what actions we can take now to create a better future for our young people. As the late great Desmond Tutu said “There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream to find out why they are falling in.”

Our mission is: 'To guide 15,000 teachers so that they can give their students a tool box of self care strategies so young people have the skills to manage their mental wellbeing to transform their life chances.'

My personal highlight was listening to Professor Barry Carpenter, the UK’s first Professor in Mental Health in Education. He outlined the latest findings regarding children’s well-being, it is depressingly stark:

  • In June 2020, 1 in 6 of all children had a mental health need, the true figure is likely to be much worse. One CAMHS provider has seen their typical waiting list go from 30 young people to 300 in the last 6 months. The situation has deteriorated so much that some figures are not being released.

  • Child psychologists are reporting seeing symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in children for the first time that are common with soldiers who have fought on the battlefield.

  • In addition, there has been a 68% increase in young people with eating disorders since the pandemic started.

  • Staff wellbeing data portrays an incredibly bleak picture at the moment as teachers struggle to process the trauma they have also been through over the last 2 years.

  • Traumatised children make fragile learners. When you combine this with poor staff wellbeing then this certainly explains some of the significant issues we are seeing in many classrooms at the moment with respect to behaviour, learning and resilience.

A wake up call

This should be a huge wake up call for all of us who work in education and it got me thinking about the legacy I want to leave for the 2035 generation and what we can do as educators to support our young people at this challenging time.

Dame Rachel De Souza, the Children’s Commissioner, also presented her findings on ‘The Big Ask’ where over half a million children age 4 to 18 answered questions about the topics most important to them. I noted with interest that young people wanted to receive support in places where they feel safe such as schools. They wanted closer relationships and the opportunity to play. These are vital to help our young people recover from the trauma they have incurred over the last two years.

What is your wish?

I would love to know what your wish is for this generation? One of the best parts of the conference is networking with brilliant like minded teachers like Lee Sullivan, Dr Liz Durden-Myers and Will Swaithes to discuss and debate these big ideas.

Our wish at Future Action is that all schools embed a 3 phase approach to transform our young people's wellbeing.

  • Phase 1 is Early Intervention for all within schools with a range of physical activities as one of the secret weapons to transforming wellbeing.

  • Phase 2 is Internal Specialist Support such as pastoral counsellors for those who are starting to struggle & Safeguarding.

  • Phase 3 is External Specialist Providers such as CAMHS for those young people in crisis.

Phase one of the approach would be where schools identify those young people who are starting to struggle at the earliest opportunity and to pass them on for specialist support within schools. Alongside this all students and staff should be taught a range of self-care strategies so that they have a toolbox to manage their own well-being right now and long after they have left school.

The second phase should be specialist internal support from fully trained counsellors and where the safeguarding team would come into play. If young people still require specialist support after this intervention they should be referred to phase 3 which is external specialist support such as Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).

The new & improved ‘RISE Up’ Early Intervention Programme

Here at Future Action we have been feverishly working behind the scenes since Christmas to create Version two of our Early Intervention Programme.

We are changing the name from the ‘Building Mental Fitness’ programme to the ‘RISE Up’ Early Intervention Programme.

Our ‘RISE Up’ Early Intervention Programme is a proven step by step programme that guides innovative teachers to reduce students’ anxiety, build their confidence, and create a sustainable Early Intervention Programme within 90 days.

We have learnt so much over the last 18 months from road testing different self-care strategies, learning from the 35 schools across the world already within our community, and from student voice about what is working for our young people and what additional support they require. We have had a tremendous response from students and staff who have been roadtesting the new resources and we are excited to see how it will transform young people's wellbeing.

It is ideal for Mental Health leads, RSHE leads, Physical Education teachers as well as any member of staff who wants to equip themselves with a range of early intervention skills so that they can make a difference. This online teacher training course is packed full of editable resources to save teachers precious hours of time planning, so that they can have maximum impact as soon as possible.

Click here to find out more about our new 'RISE Up Early Intervention Teacher Training Course.

A Huge Step Forward For The Young People of Norfolk

We are absolutely delighted to announce that Norfolk County Council and the Department of Education have agreed to fund our new 'RISE Up' Early Intervention

Programme for all secondary schools within Norfolk to help our young people at this time. If you are based in a Norfolk secondary school and would like to access our programme then please reach out to us.

We will be releasing much more information over the next few weeks about the new ‘RISE Up’ Early Intervention Programme but in the meantime, please get in touch and let us know your wishes for those young people who will be leaving school in 2035?

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