The science behind the health benefits of meditation

One of the main findings that I became fascinated with was neuroplasticity: the ability of the brain to change and create new neural connections throughout your life, and the most powerful way to do this, you guessed it: meditation. I appreciate that as a yoga and meditation teacher it is so easy for me to say this, but even if this resonates with one person, it would make me so happy.

It is incredibly easy for me to talk about the benefits from my subjective point of view yet when there is scientific proof about the effects that it has on us, people start to listen. I’m not saying that it’s like proving gravity or that the earth is round (how is this still in dispute) but in proving that meditation can change the way your brain functions daily is something not to be taken lightly.

mindful brain

A study that grabbed my attention the most was by Harvard neuroscientist Dr. Sara Lazar. Her 2005 findings were groundbreaking and showed a brain similarity with someone who I think you might know. Dr. Lazar discovered that experienced meditators had much more neural density, folds, electrical activity and thickness in their prefrontal cortex (the part of the brain responsible for cognitive behaviour and essentially our personality).

Fear, anxiety, and stress are often a catalyst for so many people to start meditating. For me, my own experiences with anxiety are what led me to yoga in the first place.

In addition to this study, there are numerous findings that show that meditation “thickens” and grows the prefrontal cortex. This type of brain function is what made Albert Einstein’s brain so unique: needless to say the ability to create this through neuroplasticity and meditation is phenomenal.

When I read about this brain functioning, I went on to search for the part of the brain that is responsible for our emotions, survival instinct and memory: the amygdala. The simplest way to understand this is the fight or flight process with fear and how we both perceive and deal with any situation controlled by the amygdala.

mindful table

In 2016, a team of Spanish and German (Yang et. al) fMRI imaged the brains of meditation beginners before and after 40 days of mindfulness training to see the differences. Naturally, after the six weeks, their anxiety and depression scores had decreased. The part of the study that is truly phenomenal is that the participants had dramatically decreased their amygdala in size and volume- in only six weeks!

The implications of this study show that we can learn to control our primitive brain and teach ourselves to build up a protective layer against the negative effects of stress and anxiety before they take control of us. Interestingly, this study also found out that we can strengthen the Temporoparietal Junction (TPJ) associated with our emotional intelligence (EQ) through meditation.

Our intelligence is not set the day we are born, we have the power to take control.

We know ourselves that meditation gives you the tools you need to deal with your emotions but this finding proves that no matter how deep you may be suffering from depression, we can use tools to begin feeling better.

When delving further into neuroplasticity there is one more part of the brain that I wanted to mention and that is the Hippocampi. This part of the brain is responsible for learning and memory and again I wanted to see if, through neuroplasticity, the way we meditate would physically effect this. In another study by Dr. Lazar her research shows that meditation dramatically increased Hippocampal cortical thickness, with a magnitude determined by experience.

downard dog

In essence, this means that meditation has the power to shape the learning and memory centre of the brain into something phenomenal. If you want to create a strong memory capability and become a super learner… start with meditation.

I believe that meditation is the greatest gift that we can give to ourselves that can be done anywhere, anytime and it costs us nothing but time.

If you are tempted to give meditation a go, begin by trying out the box breath method:

  • Inhale for 4, pause for 4, exhale for 4, pause for 4.
  • Imagine the breath moving across the body in this way and visualise it creating a box shape reaching the four corners.

When you use your mind to visualize these techniques it becomes even more powerful.

LINE_divide

About our Community Expert

04_COMMUNITY_02_KIRSTY

Kirsty Raynor

#TeachFit programme lead

Kirsty is a yoga teacher on a journey of empowerment, building confidence and pushing the boundaries of what traditional yoga is and can be.

She leads the TeachFit Yoga workshops in our partner schools.

 

 

4 Steps of Strategic Planning for School Leaders

Dejected, forlorn and without hope, he says nothing, he does nothing, just watches the nightmare unfold, as the nations’ team tumbles into humiliation at the hands of novices.

He is dismissed from his post with the media shouting loudly that he simply did not have a plan, no strategy in place to deal with the situation on the field. He just sent the team out doing what they always did and hoped it would be enough. It wasn’t.

“The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do”

– Professor Michael Porter

Roy was and still is a good leader. He has enjoyed success in many situations where others would have struggled, but he did not have a strategy to take the national side past the level they had reached previously. Those in his leadership team around him were not able to bring any positive influence to bear so that the outcome could be different. Without an effective strategy, a shipwreck occurred and all was lost.

Effective school leaders are masters of strategy, it’s not that they have left the operational aspects of school behind, but they have developed insight and skill in understanding the frameworks and nuances of strategic planning and execution.

bulb light-2

Davies and Ellison (1999) suggest that schools should engage in three types (or levels) of planning activity and integrate them into a cyclical process through which they can manage their strategic development over time. This model has been updated by Davies (2006) as follows,

Short term

This refers to one or two-year planning and the creation of operational school development plans. These short-term plans need to be focused on practical and achievable areas of school improvement and need to be driven by specific operational development teams.

Medium term

This refers to the strategic analysis used to create a strategic intent for the less predictable areas of medium-term planning. It also refers to traditional planning processes to produce strategic plans for definable and predictable areas of development. Medium term plans are best put together, monitored and reviewed by a standing group that meets regularly to manage the various strands of the school’s strategic plan.

Long term

This refers to future thinking to identify longer-term fundamental shifts in the educational environment and provide a future perspective. In larger schools, this process may be promoted by ‘research and development groups’, set up as task-and-finish groups.

A strategically-focused school is one that is educationally effective in the short- term but has a clear framework and processes to translate core moral purpose and vision into an excellent educational provision that is challenging and sustainable in the medium to long term, Bennet (2000).

School leaders do not need to devise new frameworks for strategic planning, this area is well researched and readily available, we need to be courageous and forward thinking to employ strategic models, even though we may be in the midst of firefighting within the school community.

Strategic school leaders rise above the managerial daily school life and view the school and its future from a different perspective. Using a framework, school leaders can plan and implement a strategy to secure improvement, build capacity and enter into new territory. The following is adapted from a framework by Davies (2008).

plan table

Stage one: Generate intents

Generate a list of three to five strategic intents. These are intended to be significant changes and challenges that fundamentally move the school forwards.

For instance:

• Moving the entire curriculum of the school in a new direction across all key stages.

• Joining a new academy trust or federation.

• Cementing literacy, numeracy or business enterprise at the heart of the school ethos. Leaders, you must state your purpose, sum this up in keywords to guide day to day operations and as the foundation for future decision making.

• What is our core business in relation to this intent?

• What are we trying to accomplish for our students?

• What is our reason for existing?

Visualise the future… be courageous and think big! To write a statement of intent for each area answer this question, ‘What will this area of school look like in 5 – 10 years from now?’

Whatever you visualise should inspire you and others.

Stage two: Capability/capacity-building

For each intent (separately), list the early capabilities/capacities to be built in order to move towards achieving the intent. Each intent will then be taken separately to be developed (perhaps by different groups of staff or staff and other stakeholders).

Leaders, here you lead the analysis that helps the organisation look critically at itself. Tools to help you? the good old SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats).

Or my favourite, MIC:

• What should we keep doing? Maintain

• What should we tweak? Improve

• What should we overhaul or start again? Change

Leaders, there had been no doing as yet! You are leading the leadership thinking across the community, facilitating focused dialogue with staff and stakeholders.

Neglect this collaborative thinking stage at your peril. Profiling will play a role here too. Find out about your staff afresh, find out about your students afresh, what are their needs? wants? training requirements? levels of morale and issues therein? Do this for each of your strategic intents.

strategic bulb

Stage three: Strategic processes to build intent

Take each capability/capacity to be built at stage two separately and set out the strategic processes which will be required to build it. In each case, this will involve the strategic processes of conceptualising; engaging; articulating.

Now, the leadership team get writing, still not doing as yet. Don’t be hasty, the pre-work is the equivalent of digging a deep foundation for future success.

Conceptualising: what could this look like for the school and for the staff involved? What can you as leaders see that others cannot?

Engaging: facilitation of the conversations, motivating others and encouraging participation in the wider dialogue.

Articulation: orally with staff, in writing to staff, laying down the structures of the strategy.

Leaders, set objectives that give action to the statements of intent and contain the goals to be achieved.

Effective goals set out clearly in relation to performance:

• How much
• What kind
• By when
• By whom

Assess your resources, assess your need for and then secure support.

Make sure your goals and objectives build upon your strengths, shore up your weaknesses, capitalize on your opportunities and recognise your threats.

Stage four: Implementation

What is the next step? Take decisions about implementation (or not), Is the school ready to?

• Move to phased implementation?
• Move to full implementation?
• Abandon the ideas as non-feasible or no longer appropriate?

Or does the school:

• Require further development and capacity/capability building in this area?

Now and only now should you start doing!

LINE_divide

 

About our Community Expert

DianaOsagi_BlueCircle-1Diana Osagie
Community Expert | CEO Courageous Leadership Consultancy

After 16 years in senior leadership including six as a secondary headteacher, Diana is now one of the UK’s most recognised education leadership coaches.

She specialises in helping leaders and their teams develop their inner layer of courage; essential for true leadership and resilience.

Six principles of safeguarding in schools

The six principles of safeguarding originate from The Care Act 2014, which was instigated in order to set out the responsibilities of carers when caring for others.

The Care Act 2014 is aimed primarily at caring for adults at risk, however, the key areas covered within the six principles highlight fundamental safeguarding duties and responsibilities that apply to everyone; and reminds us all how and why safeguarding is EVERYONE’s responsibility.

coloured hands

The Paramountcy Principle within The Children Act 1989 reminds all that ‘the welfare and protection of the child must always come first.’

Keeping Children Safe in Education 2018 makes it explicitly clear that safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility. Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children includes preventing them from experiencing harm, enabling them to be healthy, and meet their developmental milestones.

“Every child has the right to grow up in a safe environment.”


The 6 Principles of Safeguarding as defined by The Care Act 2014 are:

• Accountability

• Empowerment

• Partnership

• Prevention

• Proportionality

• Protection

These principles outline every person’s rights to live free from harm or abuse and are the basis of all good safeguarding practice.

Accountability

Being clear about your responsibilities to safeguard those deemed as being ‘at risk’, and transparent in your actions so that the person who has made the disclosure understands fully the actions you will now have to take ensures that ‘Accountability’ has been met.

Empowerment

It is important that the person deemed as being ‘at risk’ is in control of the situation that is about to take place. Your role as the person dealing with the disclosure is to involve the person in the process of reporting the concern; this allows for ‘Empowerment’.

You need to be familiar with your schools safeguarding reporting and recording procedures; only then will you be able to confidently explain the next steps. When safeguarding children it is important to be aware that informed consent is not required in order for you to share a safeguarding concern.

However, it is good practice to always ask for consent to share. Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018 makes it clear that:- ‘Everyone who comes into contact with children and their families has a role to play in identifying concerns, sharing information and taking prompt action.’

ring of people

Partnership

Multi-agency working plays an important role in ensuring that the appropriate services and agencies are aware of, and where necessary working with, children and their families who are at risk of harm; therefore allowing for effective ‘Partnership’ working to take place.

It is important to note that when sensitive information is being shared it needs to be done appropriately to ensure that confidentiality is in place at all times. Following the correct reporting procedures, both internally and externally is vital.

Prevention

Safeguarding is reacting, preventing and helping children, young people and adults to recognise and deal with risk. The ability to do this well requires you to be able to know the signs and indicators of abuse or harm so that you can report any concerns before they escalate. You also need to be able to help the individual recognise that they are at risk of harm, and therefore aid in the ‘Prevention’ of it.

print hands

Proportionality

Once a risk has been identified the way in which it is dealt with needs to be proportionate and appropriate. The ‘Proportionality’ used will depend on the level of risk. If there is an immediate risk of harm to the individual or others then a proportionate response would be to contact the Emergency Services.

If the concern does not require immediate action then the proportionate response would be to follow your schools reporting and recording procedures.

Protection

Safeguarding is designed to protect everyone from harm where they might be placed at risk, and ‘Protection’ is vital for those in greatest need of support. Supporting and representing these individuals in the most appropriate way can help to protect them from further harm.

LINE_divide

About our Community Expert

 

PROFILE-PICS_team_JuneKAREN-FOSTER

Karen Foster

Community Expert
As an experienced practitioner Child Protection, Safeguarding and Behaviour are key areas for much of Karen’s expertise and experience. She has been working with children, young people and adults for over 15 years in a multitude of settings which include dance and performing arts companies, local authorities, youth clubs, education and the welfare to work sector.

Karen’s main expertise is in safeguarding and behaviour management and modification strategies, with her most recent role being a national Safeguarding Lead. Karen has also been a school governor for nine years, two of which have been as Vice-Chair.

Karen has also run a behaviour unit (inclusive PRU) within an Academy and worked with the most disaffected students whose behaviour was disruptive who weren’t accessing the curriculum within the mainstream setting. She has and also worked with disaffected young people within a youth club, most of whom were at risk of permanent exclusion and carried out safeguarding audits whilst working for a multi-academy trust.

Webinar | The Hallmarks of Effective Professional Development

The Hallmarks of Professional Development with Ross Morrison McGill | Tuesday 30 April 2019 | Webinar

Event description

Research has reported that opportunities for teachers in England to engage with professional development is one of the worst in OECD countries – a meagre 5 days per year when compared to teachers in Shanghai who have 40 days allocated per academic year and currently:

● Are insufficiently evidence-based.
● Do not focus sufficiently on specific pupil needs.
● Are too inconsistent in quality.
● Lag behind those experienced by colleagues elsewhere internationally.

Join Founder of Teacher Toolkit and Opogo Community Expert Ross Morrison McGill as he reminds you of the hallmarks for building effective professional development culture within your school. The latest research will be disseminated, as well as a reminder of things to avoid.

LINE_divide


What will be covered?

A range of resources will be offered, as well as leading organisations that provide a plethora of ideas at your fingertips, including:

• Duration and rhythm of effective CPD support.

• Shifting towards a longer-term focus and aligning professional development processes, content and activities.

• How to step away from a ‘one-size fits all’ approach to individual needs are carefully considered.

• How to ensure the content of effective professional development considers both subject knowledge and subject-specific pedagogical discussions.

• How best to source external input from providers/specialists who can help support and challenge orthodoxies within a school & provide diverse perspectives.

• How to empower teachers through collaboration and peer learning with powerful leadership to help define staff opportunities and embed cultural change.

Who will benefit?

Teachers involved in the curation of (and who are responsible for) effective professional development of others.LINE_divide

 

When will the event take place?

ICON_calendar

 

Date: Tuesday 30 April 2019
Time:
 4:30pm – 5:30pm
Location: Online

Click here to book your free place now.

LINE_divide

Speaker Profile: Ross Morrison McGill

Ross Morrison McGill, also known as @TeacherToolkit, is the ‘most followed educator on social media in the UK’. Ross has been a teacher for 25 years and is the founder of one of the most popular education websites in the world.

He is an award-winning blogger, author and today, has worked with over 100 schools in 8 countries. The Sunday Times listed Ross as one of the ‘500 Most Influential People in Britain’ and today, he remains the only classroom teacher to have featured.”

LINE_divide

The importance of connections for school leaders

Relationships among teaching and non-teaching staff in schools can be integral to your success as a teacher or leader within a school. Trust among colleagues, collegial relationships, and widespread buy-in and support.

A well-shared vision for what you would like to achieve can have a real positive impact on your career, but how can you harness this?

I have just moved job; a nice sideways move from a lead pastoral role to a Head of Curriculum role, nothing too dramatic, but I had not counted on one major obstacle: my entire support network had broken down.

table comms

All those years cultivating relationships around the school, from the administrative assistant who handles the photocopying to the exams officer, the data manager and the facilities lead, all really important people who have helped me be the success that I am to this point.

School leaders need a network, setting up and maintaining a system of support to help them meet the many challenges of the job. For some school leaders, it is counter-intuitive to think that they might need to ask for help. But in order to thrive, it is vital that school leaders reach out for support, but how do you achieve this?

Connect and identify

Firstly, find a connection and identify who you can trust to discuss the various challenges whilst providing advice. These relationships are important for any school leader. Connecting with colleagues in your school offers you an opportunity to discuss your situations and scenarios with someone who understands your context. Having that go-to person enables you to find the movers and shakers within the organisation.

Elliott et al. (1999) for instance found in their study that there were certain contextual factors that led to teachers maximising their effectiveness in schools, including established well-developed communication networks and strong administrative support for curriculum initiatives.

communicate (1)

Cultivate culture by reaching out

These relationships and support mechanisms do not occur naturally as they need to be cultivated. It was noted in particular that when teachers felt confident, valued and trusted they were more likely to engage. In my context, I have a large faculty to manage, including an array of established teachers, under-performing staff, NQT’s and long term supply.

Time-manage

I manage many time-consuming activities such as lots of questions, ego massaging and general day to day support, but insist on developing a friendly and supportive relationship with key people from the beginning. This is either by inviting them to lunch, introducing them to others in the school, offering to help locate supplies, and so on. These go a long way toward reducing patterns of isolation and building teacher-teacher trust.

Support your networks

SLT can support relationship-building between new and returning faculty by creating opportunities throughout the school year for teachers to meet and get to know one another. Create—and support—meaningful opportunities for teachers to work collaboratively.

Too often, schools are structured in ways that prevent teachers from working together closely. Authentic relationships, however, “are fostered by personal conversations, frequent dialogue, shared work and shared responsibilities.

bubble communicate

Make relationship-building a priority

As a faculty, select a small but diverse group of teachers to do some initial legwork: locating an assessment tool, measuring teacher-teacher trust in the school, talking to faculty about perceived strengths and areas of concern, and investigating relevant professional development strategies.

Peer coaching, mentoring, team teaching, professional learning communities, and networking are all models that can be used to strengthen teacher relationships by bringing individuals together around issues of mutual interest and/or concern.

LINE_divide

About our Community Expert

04_COMMUNITY_03_RICHARD

Richard Endacott

Career Development Lead

Richard is a history Teacher by Training and for the last few years been head of sixth form. His specialism is leadership and career development in the classroom.

10 ways to look after your wellbeing as a teacher

Having spent up to two days a week in schools for the last 18 months I have seen how much pressure teachers are under daily and I can only begin to imagine how much it could affect your personal wellbeing.

You are shaping the lives of thousands of children every single day and believe me I truly think that is the most important job in the world. I cannot stress enough how important it is to not feel selfish to say that you need time for yourself or create habits that are just for you.

brain and heart

I have put together 10 tips that I really think will work specifically for you, even if you try one, it is all about starting somewhere!

1. Acknowledge your importance

Know that you are the most important person in that classroom. When you are feeling motivated and energised the children will feel it and you deserve to feel like that.

2. Accept that we feel different every single day

I teach Yoga 6 days a week (on average) and I keep an energy diary to work out how I am feeling. Even a scale of 1-5, that simple, so that you can start to understand how things in your life are affecting you daily and perhaps where you may need to change some patterns in your life.

3. Breathwork is your new bestie

Seriously. Even close your eyes in the classroom while the students are on a break and take 10 deep breathes. Try to make the exhale longer than the inhale so that it works with your parasympathetic nervous system and calm you down.

brain thoughts

4. Create your own excitement

Create something first thing in the morning that you cannot wait to do! Something that inspires you to get up in the morning… maybe it is reading an amazing book for 5 minutes, meditating, doing a HIIT workout, something that you can do for 5 minutes that YOU deserve.

5. Know that you’re not alone

Know that being overwhelmed, not getting enough sleep and feeling anxious are all normal feelings that we all experience. After speaking to so many teachers I know that this is actually very common and I want you to know that you are doing GREAT. When I feel like this, I write things down no matter what time of day, and allow my emotions out onto the page and then look at it a couple of hours later for perspective.

6. Time block

This is my secret love. I am self-employed and my days can literally run away with me where I am “busy” but have accomplished nothing. I even block out time to have breakfast, when to shower etc. I know your day is laid out but once the school day is over, it is YOUR time and I think trying this out and blocking out time for self-care will truly make a difference.

palm tree

7. Move your body in some way every day

I do Yoga every day and cannot even begin to talk about the benefits and how much it will change your life (really) but I also get it’s not for everyone. Find something that works for you and that you enjoy, and just do it.

8. Do you

Set yourself a monthly goal that is nothing to do with work. Maybe it is to do a hike you have always wanted to? Or read a book a month that is pure fiction? Something just for you!

9. Talk to people

If you are feeling overwhelmed please do not hide away, share it with people in work, friends, us, we are here for you every step of the way.

10. Sleep

I cannot stress how important this is, you have to make sure you are resting enough, it is the key to recovery and mental wellbeing.

Breathe, drop those shoulders and remember you are doing just great!

 

LINE_divide

About our Community Expert

04_COMMUNITY_02_KIRSTY

Kirsty Raynor

#TeachFit programme lead

Kirsty is a yoga teacher on a journey of empowerment, building confidence and pushing the boundaries of what traditional yoga is and can be.

She leads the TeachFit Yoga workshops in our partner schools.

5 ways to instill a ‘can do’ attitude in your students

Should we stick to the basics and turn ‘I can’t do it’ into ‘I can do it’? In this blog we look at the steps to help your students develop a ‘can do’ attitude.

Step 1.
A ‘can do’ attitude is a result of a positive mindset, so start by reminding your students they ‘can do’ anything they set their mind to.

Step 2.
Ban the word ‘can’t’ from your classroom. Remove all other motivational quotes from the walls and inform pupils the word ‘can’t’ is banned from the classroom. Ask your pupils to monitor and ‘police’ the use of the word and turn this ban into a classroom challenge.

lightbulb (1)

Click here to download the Opogo app on the App store and read this blog in full!

Alternatively click here to download the Opogo app for android.

LINE_divide

 

About our Community Expert

JoLane_BlueCircle_CommunityExpert-1

Jo Lane
Head of Careers at The Windsor Boys’ School

Over 8 years of experience in educational settings including FE colleges and secondary schools. Prior to entering education she worked at the Financial Times in a sales and marketing role before deciding to embark on a career change.

Teaching business whilst completing her part-time PGCE at Greenwich University, she transferred her business skills into the classroom and these skills resulted in her providing students with a range of vocational learning experiences linked to the curriculum, including setting up businesses and creating a youth music festival for local performers.

Building on her experience of working in The City, she has established excellent links with local and national employers who provide valuable career opportunities for her pupils, including work experience, employability sessions and apprenticeships. She is motivated to provide pupils or all abilities with the opportunity to be successful in school and helping them secure the right path for their future career.

Your complete guide to assembly ideas

Developing and sustaining new, interesting and exciting ideas for assemblies and ensuring that they are engaging, relevant and actually teach something is, in itself a challenge, especially given such high stacks involved!

Planning the assembly content and structure for their delivery is a crucial and essential part of the process and should be approached in the same way that you would approach the planning of a lesson or a staff meeting. It is all about planning!

assemblies

Click here to download the Opogo app on the App store and read this blog in full!

Alternatively click here to download the Opogo app for android.

LINE_divide

About our Community Expert

04_COMMUNITY_01_JANE

Jane Wood-Chambers
Editorial Advisory Board Lead

Over 27 years of educational experiences in a number of settings. Developed a clear vision and ethos for inclusion which puts the child at the centre and a clear understanding of how to support, engage and nurture the individual.

Ability to train all staff through effective and reflective continual professional development in behavioural management techniques that begin, establish and maintain change in all.

Effective Classroom Language: Do’s and Don’ts

Since then, I have learnt that the language teachers use in the classroom can have a positive or harmful effect on pupils, so their words need to be chosen carefully.

We’ve all had lessons where we’ve had to repeatedly ask pupils to be quiet, but instead of pulling your hair out in frustration, try using these classroom management “dos’” and “don’ts” – paying extra attention to the language you use when managing pupil behaviour.

Learning simply cannot happen when pupils misbehave, so it is crucial that teachers handle disruptions in a consistent and non-confrontational manner.

Praise good behaviour

Rather than concentrating on the pupils that misbehave, focus your attention on the pupils that are working well. A simple, “well done to those of you on the extension task” or “good work front row” can be very effective. Even mischievous pupils want to please the teacher, so give them the opportunity to change their behaviour before you consider sanctioning them.

Offer the carrot, not the stick

Rather than reminding pupils of the sanctions for bad behaviour, remind them of the rewards they can receive for exhibiting good behaviour. You can even implement a rewards system in the form of certificates, prizes and privileges.

Words of praise like “well done” or “excellent work” can be very encouraging when you mean them, so give credit where credit’s due. Awarding a prize for ‘Pupil of the month’ can also make them very competitive and encourage them to stay on task!

table

Click here to download the Opogo app on the App store and read this blog in full!

Alternatively, click here to download the Opogo app for android.

 

LINE_divide

 

About our Community Expert

SIMI_RAI_Circle

Simi Rai
Community Expert

Over 5 years of experience in educational settings throughout London, Madrid and Barcelona. Whilst studying English Literature and Language at King’s College London and the University of North Carolina, she fell in love with her subject – both the study of literature and craft of writing.

After graduating, she completed the Leadership Development Programme with Teach First, whose mission is to provide equality through education, and attained her PGCE in Secondary English at Canterbury Christ Church University. She was then appointed as Deputy Head of English at one of the highest performing schools in England in a London inner-city academy.

Following this, she completed her Leadership and Management MA at University College London (Institute of Education) and became the director of an English Language company based in Barcelona.

Young people on a knife edge

My blog this week wasn’t going to be around knives and all week I have sat deliberating whether to continue the debate around the tragic events that we’ve all seen and read in the media over the last 10 days.

Whether it’s the three young men within 2 miles in Birmingham or the two teenagers from Manchester and East London once again the debate around who’s to blame and who has the solution continues to rage but one thing for sure is we cannot continue to address this issue the same way.

crie scene

Click here to download the Opogo app on the App store and read this blog in full!

Alternatively, click here to download the Opogo app for android.

LINE_divide

About our Community Expert

Raymond Douglas
Community Expert

Raymond Douglas is one of the UK’s leading thinkers and “doers” around working with at-risk pupils and young people. A prolific trainer and curriculum developer he has created numerous intervention programs tackling youth conflict & violence aiming to reduce the number of those at risk of life-threatening behaviour involving guns, gangs, knife crime & extremism.

Ray has been an approved trainer for governmental departments and currently delivers within schools colleges, universities and prisons. Ray has spoken at TEDx and has worked nationally and internationally training & advising schools and local authorities around reducing systemic youth violence.

Today his Minus Violence program reaches over 10,000 young people & pupils per year and 2019 see the release of his first book Gangs Kitchen.