Kiran began her career in inner-city London, as an English teacher in schools serving the most deprived postcodes in the country. After five years on the frontline, Kiran left to work in education policy, searching for solutions to the rising number of vulnerable children who fall through the gaps. Kiran was working at Social Mobility Commission when she conceived the idea for The Difference. She has led its work full-time since January 2017.
Kiran is driven by her own family experiences. Growing up with two adopted sisters, Kiran witnessed the long-term effects of childhood trauma and the lack of support for young people with complex needs. This insight is what keeps Kiran striving for the most vulnerable children to get the education they deserve.
Hear from Aidan McQuaid about how The Difference’s Inclusive Leadership Training has already benefited him, his school and his students this year.
This week, a new presenter to the Pivotal Podcast, Cathy Duncan, spoke to the Scottish former football star, Kris Boyd. After a very successful career, Kris now works to help improve the mental health of those in need.
Kris grew up in the South Ayrshire village of Tarbolton and started his senior football career with Kilmarnock. He transferred to Rangers in January 2006, and was their top goalscorer in each of his seasons at Ibrox. He is the top goalscorer in the history of the Scottish Premier League, with 167 goals in total.
Boyd had a short spell in English football with Middlesbrough, during which time he was sent on loan to Nottingham Forest. He signed for Turkish club Eskişehirspor in 2011, but terminated his contract after five months and moved to the Portland Timbers of Major League Soccer in January 2012. He later returned to both Kilmarnock and Rangers.
Having played several games for the Scotland U21 and Scotland B teams, Boyd received his first cap for the senior Scottish national team in 2006. He scored seven goals in eighteen appearances for the senior national side over four years.
In 2016, Boyd’s younger brother Scott took his own life aged 27. The Kris Boyd Charity was founded in January, 2018. As Kris says:
My wee brother Scott tragically took his own life in September, 2016 and it has left my family devastated. There’s not a day goes by when I don’t think about him and I know it’s even worse for my parents, I feel for them even more as they try to get on with their lives as best they can without Scott being a part of it.
Is the reason I’ve set up The Kris Boyd Charity solely down to what happened to Scott? No. Is it a big part of the reason? Yes.
To be hit with Scott’s tragedy was a big wake-up call for me which led me to start looking into the different circumstances as to why people commit suicide. It is clear to me now that any given individual doesn’t wake up one morning and, on a whim, decide to end it all. It’s a gradual process which takes place over a period of time. My own wife, Christine, suffers from anxiety. Christine has had to fight internal battles that led to her being unable to do certain things over the years and I did not deal with them properly. I was not fully aware of what she was going through and still goes through on a daily basis, I should have been there for her, been more comforting and understanding. I’m the first to admit I’ve had my failings when trying to deal with Christine’s battles with anxiety, however, I am now listening and I’m learning. It is absolutely vital to do both and this is what I want to impart on those who are living with someone suffering from depression or anxiety.
The aim of this charity is to educate people and get people to engage with others when they are in need of help instead of dismissing them or brushing of their feelings as being “weak”. We hope that, in time, society can speak openly when they have issues, it’s about them knowing there will be someone there for them who will show decency and a level of understanding. With young people today mental health is being an ever prevalent issue, due to teenagers being so focused on their phones and social media instead of being active and socialising with their peers in person. This also leads to more online bullying as well as unrealistic beauty standards which add mounting pressure on young people, and can lead to mental health issues.
Serena is an award winning mentor and the recipient of outstanding leadership judgements from Ofsted in 2014 and 2018. With extensive experience of delivering the highest professional standards of educational and parochial care, she has been a Deputy Designated Safeguarding Lead since 2015 with FGM and Positive Handling specialist training. Serena believes in the value of lifelong learning, the equality and rights of every child and the crucial role education has in building our future.
As you can imagine, Serena is able to share many insights into her experiences of teaching through lockdown, particularly how to maximise learning at a distance.
Mark Bocker picks the brains of Wellness champion, Adrian Bethune this week.
Adrian Bethune is a Healthy Body and Mind Leader and Teacher at a primary school in Hertfordshire. He was awarded a ‘Happy Hero’ medal at the House of Lords on the UN International Day of Happiness in 2013, and has been on stage with the Dalai Lama and Lord Richard Layard in 2015 talking about teaching happiness in his school.
He is passionate about children’s mental health and happiness and has been interviewed by numerous national newspapers and other press organisations, including The Telegraph and Teach Primary Magazine. Adrian is founder of www.teachappy.co.uk
Adrian is the author of, Wellbeing in the Primary Classroom – A Practical Guide to Teaching Happiness, which is out now:
In a wide-ranging, in-depth discussion, Mark and Adrian explore the importance of wellbeing for children and adults in our schools as well as Adrian’s story and plans for the future.
This week, Mark Bocker speaks to Shahana Knight, Childhood Trauma and Mental Health Specialist.
Shahana is the Founder and Director of TPC therapy Ltd. A mental health service for children and young people. She manages a large team of play therapists who work with vulnerable children in schools, adoption, fostering and homicide across the UK. She is the founder of the ‘Therapeutic Schools Programme’ through which she works with schools across England to put children’s wellbeing at the core of education.
Shahana is pioneering a vision/mission for all schools to become therapeutic. Her unique approach is making a significant impact and has been recognised by BBC newsround and BBC Teach who have both done features in which she has appeared. She is also a finalist in the upcoming Ladies First Awards 2020, in the categories of; ‘Inspirational Women’ and ‘Business Entrepreneur’.
Shahana writes a regular segment in Headteachers Update, the national magazine for primary schools, sharing therapeutic teaching ideas and techniques. She is also a governor of a primary school and sits on two foster care panels.
Her own experiences of childhood trauma inform her work, offering a unique perspective based on empathy, understanding and a raw truth that cannot be found in textbooks alone.
In a detailed and expansive conversation, we learn a great deal about Shahana’s work and plans.
This week, new presenter Lynsie Monro speaks to Dr Harry Hope about how he has led his Primary School through the opening stages of the Coronvirus emergency.
It’s a fascinating interview and Harry shares a huge amount about his approaches and stresses what he thinks is most important for everyone to remember at times like these.
Harry earned his medical degree and worked as a Junior Doctor before following his true passion, education. He hung up his stethoscope and trained to become a teacher. Working across a range of settings in both the UK and in Singapore, Harry cultivated a strong belief in lifelong learning and developed a his expertise in the leadership and management of curriculum change.
After taking on the role of Deputy Headteacher
in East Sussex, Harry was appointed as Principal of Waterfield Primary School
in the Summer Term of 2019. Harry holds firm the belief that we all have an
important role in developing our children to become global citizens who are
equipped with the skills they will require to tackle the world of tomorrow.
School should be a happy place, where every child has the freedom to explore
and discover their talents amongst a strong foundation of essential core
This week, Huw talks to the amazing Baby J about the alternative provision in Derby he runs called Baby People. We use the term ‘inspirational’ a lot but Baby J is definitely an inspiration to the many young people who have benefited from what he has achieved.
Baby J is an established record producer who has been working in the industry for over a decade. Artists he has worked with include Amy Winehouse, Mark Ronson, Skinnyman, Jamelia and Plan B. Alongside his production work Baby J runs Baby People, a music and arts development agency that produces events and runs educational provision for young people.
Baby People’s Educational work covers everything from one of workshops to full academic year placements. Working from Primary school age to Adult Education. Their focus is on working with young people that struggle to engage in mainstream education. Classes can take place at their recording studios or offsite.
Their tutors all work professionally in their field and include UK champion Breakdancers, commissioned artists, and MC, Songwriters and producers that have been played on BBC Radio 1, BBC 6Music, BBC Introducing and 1Xtra aswell as MTV and have toured with Jay Z and Mark Ronson.
Baby People can provide workshops and educational classes in Music Production, Creative Writing & Lyrics, Breakdance, Aerosol and Graffiti Art and more.
Benita is Founder of Place2Be and a qualified counsellor. Benita was CEO for 20 years until 2014 when she stepped down and was appointed life time President and continues to support the organisation enthusiastically through her role as President.
Benita received an OBE for Services to Children and Families in 2007; was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Law from the University of East London in 2009; in 2014 was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the Institute of Education, University of London and Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the Birthday 2016 Honours List in recognition of services to education. Currently Benita is Trustee of Children of Success Schools, FORWARD TRUST and a Governor at Bridge Academy Hackney.
This week, Mark spoke to Benita about the issues and potential solutions around child mental health. They talk about Place2Be as well as how we should be helping schools to provide as much help as they can.
Benita believes there is a lot of wonderful practice happening today and discusses the current state of collaboration and co-ordination amongst schools and agencies.