I am so LUCKY. I’ve always attributed my bounciness to the fact that I’m a lucky person. When I first started teaching in 1972… wellbeing training hadn’t been heard of! We were in a very tough school in Clapham Junction, demoralised and with a high turnover of staff. Then along came a new head teacher who took one look at us and said that he was going to do something we’d never heard of called ‘Circle Time’ once a week, with a psychiatrist… for the staff every Friday!! It was brilliant… we built a team where you could say the unsayable. Nobody judged you, where there was no moaning or gossiping because we took it to the circle. We knew that the difficult child in our class was everyone’s child. From that moment on I loved circles of people and I developed my own version ever since… and studied it and got to teach it at Master’s level for many years at Bristol University. The reason I’m mentioning this early luck is because the job I have now continually catapults me into some wonderful situations… where I have exciting experiences and meet fabulous golden-hearted teachers.
West Rise Junior School asked me in to do some wellbeing training for PSHE leads… and off I trotted to Eastbourne without giving it much thought. Well what a magical place. The school is next to the marshlands and is united by a strong vision to give children the most exciting experience possible. Do look at their website and I include an extract here.
“At West Rise, we offer our pupils a dynamic, creative learning environment. Room 13, Shine Radio Station, artists in residence, a school farm, a Bronze Age village, Forest School, water buffalo, chickens, sheep, ducks and 120 acres of marshland are all integral and contribute to the unique experience pupils enjoy at West Rise.”
They won the TES 2015 Primary School Of The Year Award.
Suddenly I was in the most wonderfully positive environment where children can play and explore and be curious… and the adults too! A wonderful place to carry out wellbeing training! When you look at the website you’ll see that many people have enjoyed their hospitality – Countryfile, BBC News, Ken Robinson. There is an endless list.
What was exciting to me was there was even a yurt on stilts in a water meadow where teachers engage in circle time as well.
Andy McKechnie is the PSHE lead and a visionary teacher
… he had kindly opened his school to all the local schools for a PSHE hub training day. It was so good to have people with me who already believe in the same ideals of putting children at the heart of everything and listening as the way to do it. So we had a good workshop and we invited in a class of pupils so I could demonstrate circle time. Afterwards I was shown around and I just wanted to get my tent and stay forever… but bring my tribe of 8 grandchildren with me so they could go to that school. Ah well it was an adventure and life goes on but I thought I would share it with you.
Website Managers Notes
We had some very good wellbeing training feedback and this is an evaluation from one PSHE teacher:
“A brilliant session delivered by a truly inspiring person. We all left Jenny’s session re-energised and motiviated with so many great ideas. We all need training like this to remind ourselves how to help develop the skills and attributes children will need throughout their life and to help build their self esteem right now. So many practical ideas that we can take straight back and use in the classroom. We hope to see you again Jenny, thank you so much.” East Sussex 2019