In this episode we hear from Sharon Gray, OBE. Sharon has extensive experience in all sectors of education, but especially in the field of Social, Emotional and Mental Health, (SEMH), and with students who could be described as ‘on the margins’.
Sharon provides a presentation that shares the approach and some of the work that is being done to support the recovery process across a family of schools in and around Derbyshire, led by the Embark Federation.
Sharon and the team at Embark have developed a Recovery Curriculum model, “Rising Strong”, that enables students in all age phases, to reconnect and re- build emotional resilience. The strategy developed never loses its focus on relationships at the heart of everything. The development of a Museum of Hope and Recovery. captures children’s experience of lockdown and reminds us all that we are survivors.
Books Beyond Words are currently running a National research project – Open Book – looking at how these innovative , wordless books can offer real life opportunities to tackle complex emotional issues with young people with learning disabilities and Autism.
Phase 1 of the Project has produced very positive evidence based outcomes , using whole group approaches. Phase 2 begins in September 2019 , and looks specifically at how the books can provide interventions to individual students , to promote positive mental health .
The Project is been directed by Professor Barry Carpenter ; the Research Fellow for the Project is Jo Egerton – firstname.lastname@example.org
A selection of the books being used in phase 1 and 2 of the Open Book project , are show on the flyer below .
The information being collated is giving new insights as to the applicability of wordless books to aid development of young people with LD, in all sorts of contexts . Recently the Books Beyond Words Founder, Sheila, the Baroness Hollins , commented on the links with Theory of Mind : –
“Stories in pictures can help people who are visually literate to explore and explain their own beliefs, feelings, knowledge and intentions, and to accept that other people may have beliefs, feelings, knowledge and intentions that are different to their own. In other words, situations explained in pictures can help to develop what is often called ‘theory of mind’ .”
As schools grapple with the challenges of implementing policy, pedagogy and practice around SEMH , they should certainly look at the potential offered in Books Beyond Words. Don’t be put off by the fact that there are no words! These books allow the emotional centres of the brain to express deep and complex emotions . They will be especially useful for a range of children and young people with SEND. The story format of each books encourages emotional expression , and facilitates resolution to emotional issues that children with Autism , for example, do not find easy to decode.
There are a range of books that particularly support Personalised Learning too. Topics that we may find difficult to articulate to the child, or for which the bog standard leaflet has no relevance, (e.g., managing Type 1 Diabetes) are powerfully expressed through the medium of pictures, in a way that is comprehensible and informative to the child with SEND.
I have work with the Team at Books Beyond Words to classify from their catalogue those books most relevant to SEMH, and Personalised Learning . They will enrich our curriculum journeys in these areas considerably.