5 minutes with… Marc Chevreau

We hear about a programme to encourage resilience and wellbeing in young people.

An educational psychologist from Blackpool is part of a team leading a strand of a £10 million programme to help encourage resilience and wellbeing in young people. The Big Lottery Fund programme, HeadStart, is going into its third phase following trials and piloting studies; local authorities in Cornwall, Hull, Kent Newham and Wolverhampton have also been funded for this third phase.

Specialist Senior Educational Psychologist and BPS member Marc Chevreau spoke to Ella Rhodes about his part of the innovative programme, which aims to help 10- to 16-year-olds in the area. It encompasses 17 strands including assistance for looked-after and vulnerable children.

Chevreau has been involved with Headstart, on a secondment from his work with Blackpool Council, since 2014 and has been piloting and developing materials to be used in a whole-school approach.

Can you tell me about your involvement with HeadStart?
The programme I’ve been working on is about the universal building of resilience, we have a whole-school programme and the aim of the programme is to work with schools and individual teachers to build an understanding of how the resilience model works. The core of this is something called a ‘resilience conversation’, and that involves facilitating a school working party, that would have a range of different perspectives on what life in school is like, and that working party would work through a series of statements that we’ve pulled together out of the research on school resilience so it becomes a self-audit tool.

How will this work in practice?
I’m contacting schools to create these working parties with them, and they’re booking in a term’s-worth of fortnightly meetings of this working party. The school will decide who will be involved. You might have a Key Stage 1 and 2 teacher, a teaching assistant, someone on a support team, to get a wide range of perspectives, but the work will be led by the head teacher. They will start their resilience conversation facilitated by me and by the eight or ninth week may have 10 or so areas of development and we prioritise them and develop an action plan based on those. One of my roles is to make sure we have good outcome measures to see how well they’re progressing and what difference it has made to interactions and relationships in the school.

How will these goals be filtered through to the children?
It depends on what schools choose, but for example, if a school were concerned about e-safety they might go out and talk to children about how concerned they are about this or might do a survey in school. If they set that as a priority they could put in a programme of e-safety for the school and monitor it through children in the school to see if it’s made a difference to their social media lives.

This sounds like a unique programme.
We’ve been using resilience, and the academic resilience materials piloted by the University of Brighton through its Social Enterprise Boingboing. They have a programme called Academic Resilience, which includes surveying staff and looking at priorities, but in a different way to the resilience conversation. This is really a typical school improvement programme and we’ve used that model and applied it to resilient interactions in school.

What’s the experience been like for you?
It’s been really exciting. We’ve just come out of the end of phase 2 and it’s a unique experience to have the chance to go really, really deep into the area of resilience. Developing materials and models is something I wouldn’t normally be able to do to this extent, for example the resilience conversation is in its seventh incarnation! It’s always been an aspiration of educational psychology to do as much whole-school work as they can, and what’s been special about this is the chance to spend so much time on it.

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