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Reflections from the YST Conference 2023

Updated: Mar 8, 2023

This week we are reflecting on the Youth Sport Trust Conference and how vibrant and inspirational the brilliant PE community is in this country.

Our founder, Neil Moggan, had the pleasure to present at the Youth Sports Trust conference last week where the theme for this year‘s conference was ‘The power of PE, Sport and Play to improve mental health’


We were delighted to see the conference was dedicated to the role Physical Education, Sport and Play can play in transforming mental health. This is something we passionately believe in at Future Action, and it is a huge opportunity for PE teachers up and down the country to have a transformational impact.

A Generational Shift

Ali Oliver, Chief Executive of The Youth Sports Trust, outlined their Inspiring Changemakers Strategy which is one that we can all buy into.

(C) Youth Sports Trust


By taking urgent action now to build back healthier, happier, more resilient young people, the YST will establish an evidence base to drive a generational shift and ultimately achieve societal change by 2035.

The strategy has three objectives:

  1. Urgent action - Build back healthier, happier and more resilient young people and level the playing field for those most disadvantaged

  2. Generational shift - To balance the demands of the digital age through the human connection of physical play and sport

  3. Societal change - Transform society's perceptions and attitudes towards the importance of physical literacy, play and sport in the education and development of young people.

Future Action are fully committed to playing our part in making this strategy come to life.

(C) Youth Sports Trust

Networking with Hero Teachers

One of the best parts of the conference was networking with brilliant like minded teachers like Lee Sullivan, Dr Liz Durden-Myers, Simon Scarborough, Will Swaithes, Vicky Marshall and James Panayi to discuss and debate the big ideas in the PE world at the moment.

It was fantastic to make new connections with innovative teachers like Matthew Trowbridge, Kate Clough, Simon Roadley, the brilliant teachers at Riverside Special School and be inspired by their great work in their settings to create improved outcomes for their young people.

Despite the challenges teachers are currently facing, there is such a resilient, innovative, and hard working community of hero PE professionals up and down the country that are committed to transforming children's life chances through the power of PE, school sport, physical activity and play.

Personal Highlights

Neil’s personal highlight was listening to the keynote speaker Dr Alex George, Youth Mental Health Ambassador to the Government.

Dr Alex made some great points to reflect on:

  • Why do we separate Physical & Mental Health when they are so interlinked? When Dr Alex was an emergency doctor in Lewisham Hospital, a third of patients were admitted with mental health problems.

  • We currently have the equivalent of 6 packed Wembley stadiums full of children waiting to be seen by mental health professionals in this country, with some waiting 2 years to be seen!

  • The need to change the stigma about asking for help when we are struggling. One of the biggest barriers we currently face is people asking for help when they need it. 1 in 2 adults will not do this at the moment.

Dr Alex finished with some great top tips if you are worried about someone close to you so try this:

[1] Trust your gut - 90% of communication is non-verbal so trust the signs you are seeing.

[2] Ask twice - If you are worried about someone, ask them twice if they are ok. Even when we are struggling we often say we are fine, but if you ask again and explain that you are worried about them because of the signs that you have seen, then it lets your loved one know that they have been seen and that they have an opportunity to talk if they wish.

[3] Be a friend, don’t try to fix. Listening without judgement is so powerful.

The final idea we really liked is the traffic light challenge that families can use at the dinner table to get people, particularly males, to open up about their feelings. Ask each other how you are feeling today using the traffic light colours as a way of starting the conversation and then asking why, once someone has identified their colour for the day.

There are some top tips here, that we can all use in our day to day lives.

Sports Sanctuary inspiration

Neil loved the workshop on sensory & sports sanctuaries as a place that children can go to regulate by Laura McAuley & Shona McCann from Riverside School in Northern Ireland, having been inspired by the great work of Professor Barry Carpenter and Vicci Wells.

We will be bringing you a lot more on sports sanctuaries in the future and the opportunities to use them in mainstream settings to support hero teachers with some of the behavioural challenges we are seeing in schools up and down the country at the moment.


Trauma Informed Transformation

With a national emergency around the mental health of adolescents, Neil led a session focused on the science and principles of implementing a trauma informed approach within a secondary PE department, to transform short & long term outcomes for young people, based on his work at a secondary school in Norwich.

We looked at the powerful story of Ian Wright and his fantastic teacher, Mr Pigden, who intuitively implemented trauma informed practice to change the direction of Ian’s future.

Neil explained what a trauma informed approach is, gave an overview of the Adverse Childhood Experience Study and how this is currently impacting children in our schools at the moment. We looked at the importance of emotionally available adults to provide the protective factors to break the cycle from Adverse Childhood Experiences to early death.

The session then explored how we can create psychological safety for our young people to trigger their social engagement system and enhance relationships across the school.


We then focused on how polyvagel theory and the 4 RISE categories of physical activities can be applied to widen our students' window of tolerance, and make our young people feel calmer, connected and loved, to transform their mental wellbeing.

Neil finished with his secret formula for a transformational teacher in a post Covid educational world, before delegates created a triple action plan that they could implement in their department the next day to take the first steps to transform outcomes.

Opportunities for you:

We are absolutely delighted with how delegates have responded to the workshop to take action the next day in their settings, and their great feedback to our workshop.

All the content from the session was taken from our ‘RECOVER’ roadmap. The ‘RECOVER’ roadmap guides teachers how to implement trauma informed practice in Physical Education to transform relationships leading to improved outcomes in wellbeing, engagement, behaviour, & progress within 90 days, and children’s life chances in the long term.

A number of departments are receiving this training in person before we release our online teacher training course in June so that many more teachers and their young people can benefit wherever your location in the world.

If you would like to host one of these in person CPD sessions for your network/trust/partnership or council to ensure you are one of the first group of innovative teachers to receive this training then please get in touch so we can discuss your needs.

Alternatively, if you want to be kept up to date with the online course then please also reach out so we can keep you in the loop.

Join us at the Liverpool School Sports Partnership Conference

Neil will be presenting a similar session on Trauma Informed Practice at the Liverpool School Sports Partnership Conference on 22nd March. We would love to see you there so click on the image for more information about how you can secure your seat.

Finally we want to finish by thanking Chris Wright & all the team at the Youth Sports Trust for hosting such an inspirational conference and giving Future Action the opportunity to showcase our work.


We hope you got value from today's e-mail. Get in touch if we can help you achieve your goals.


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