On Tuesday 25 June, we welcomed SHS staff, SHS Members, and school leaders from across the country to the SHS Conference 2019 for a day of professional development, networking, and even a few awards!
The day kicked off early with a brilliant welcome message from SHS Patron, former England and Arsenal captain Tony Adams. Our CEO, Jaine Stannard, then reminded everyone why we were connecting at the Conference:
“We’re all here today because you’ve got a passion for getting children the best start in life, making sure they’ve got the best chances and can overcome the obstacles in their way.
“Last year, there were 59 million school days lost due to absence. 1 in 9 children were persistently absent. Coupled with that, 4.1 million children are living in poverty. So for some children, just getting into school is such an issue – as [everyone here] knows better than anyone.
“Now, more than ever, what you do is needed and is critical to children’s futures. So to continue to make that difference, it’s important today that you not only learn and gain lots of knowledge from the day, but that you share your knowledge and expertise so we can all learn from each other.”
In Conversation with Dr Janet Goodall
With those words in mind, we began the first session ‘In Conversation with Dr Janet Goodall’, who returned to speak at the SHS Conference for the second year running due to such positive feedback in 2018. Dr Goodall is a parental engagement expert at the University of Bath, and has collaborated with SHS for several years on our projects. She was joined by our own SHS expert, Jameela Gidden, and together they shared valuable insight while answering questions from attendees.
Key takeaways from In Conversation with Dr Janet Goodall include:
1) Praise, positivity and focusing on assets (rather than deficits) are such important strategies when engaging hard-to-reach parents!
2) There is often a great gulf between the background of families & their teachers. The OECD states that there are three parts of school readiness: the child, the parent – and the school. The school must be ready for the pupil & their needs.
3) Schools need to understand that parental engagement is not about getting parents engaged with the school. It’s actually about getting parents engaged in learning within the home – that will benefit their child the most.
Learning Carousel – led by SHS experts
At SHS, we’re all about sharing our expertise and learning while supporting our own staff to develop professionally. So, after a quick networking break, we moved onto the Learning Carousel sessions. Selected SHS Practitioners gave 20 minute presentations on their specialisms, including parental engagement during Early Years, primary to secondary transitions, de-escalation from a specialist within a alternative provision setting, and a comprehensive session on supporting parents of children with Special Educational Needs.
Annual SHS Staff Awards
We also took the time to thank and reward our practitioners and central team staff for their dedication and impactful work. The Terry Farrell Award recognises the fantastic work of our school-based practitioner staff, and the Sir Harvey McGrath Award recognises the work of non-school based staff such as managers, fundraising, and support services. We also celebrate staff that have been working for SHS for ten years with the SHS Long Service Award.
Terry Farrell Award
This award is open to any SHS school-based employee who, in the opinion of their peers, has made a significant contribution to delivering our mission. Anne McHardy, Terry Farrell’s wife, attends the SHS Staff Awards every year in order to present the Award to the winning practitioner. This year, Ayesha Taylor won the prestigious award. When asked why Ayesha deserves the accolade, fellow SHS staff wrote:
‘She is brilliant at going above and beyond for SHS; she is supportive and responsive; Ayesha is totally on the money!’
‘She is a fantastic practitioner, always puts the family at the heart of what she does and is a great advocate for SHS.’
‘Not only does Ayesha utilise SHS support services available such as the Welfare Fund but she seeks out additional grants from Buttle UK and champions the families she supports, such as nominating one of the children she supports for the London Children of Courage Awards in 2018.’
Sir Harvey McGrath Award
The award is open to any SHS non-school based employee who, in the opinion of their colleagues, has made a significant contribution to delivering the SHS mission. This year, the award was presented by Jaine Stannard, our Chief Executive.
This year, IT Coordinator Yadgar Mahmoud was the highly deserving recipient! Those that nominated Yadgar spoke highly of him, with praise such as:
‘Most IT staff only focus on their speciality, whereas Yadgar helps wherever it is needed from an operational point of view and has also led on providing reports for the organisation. A real team player!’
‘Made me feel at ease and know I can ask him for help and he will try his best to fix the problem.’
‘Yadgar is calm, focused, and always fixes the situation. He is very knowledgeable and patient – a great asset to SHS.’
SHS Long Service Award
This year, SHS practitioners Joyce Udu and Stavey Primus received the ten-year Long Service Award for their commitment to our organisation and cause.
Supporting families with their mental health & Well-being and resilience in the workplace
We were delighted to welcome Senior Specialist Mental Health Nurse, Vicky Rodrigues, to our afternoon sessions on mental health and well-being. Vicky’s openness and lively presentation, coupled with her vast expertise, made the post-lunch slot highly interesting and engaging. The final session finished with the whole conference practicing mindfulness through Vicky’s guided meditation – a refreshing change to a cohort of professionals that rarely get a moment to stop and breathe! We wanted to ensure our staff, SHS Members and school leaders in attendance could take home practical tips to look after themselves in the workplace, and attendees went home with mindfulness activities in their SHS goodie bag.
Thanks to everyone that attended, came ready to learn, and ready to share their expertise on how we can better support the children and families SHS exists for. See you next year!