The Power of Positive Psychology at BSix
Raising Standards through Staff and Student Well-being
2018 has seen an exciting new initiative being developed at BSix Sixth Form College. In January, a core group of staff from both service and curriculum areas at all levels of the organisation came together to form a ‘Self-Evolving Positive Psychology Team’ (SEPPT).
The team were trained by Inner Armour To empower education, public services and communities with positive psychology and psychological coaching to improve psychological health for all.
The training took the form of Masters’ level positive psychology content along with coaching skills. The SEPPT team have developed an action plan to implement which will involve coaching staff-to-staff, staff-to-student and ultimately, student-to-student. The core aim is to develop inner strength and resilience in our students to equip them with the skills to cope with the challenges and stresses of everyday life.
Inner Armour’s Programme Leader/Founder, “Al”, who trained the BSix team, was a teacher in some of the most challenging secondary schools in Tower Hamlets and Birmingham for many years. He has been fighting for system change for a decade and passionately believes in using psychology for good in a “prevention is better than cure” model. He saw first-hand the rise in mental health issues that our young people face and witnessed the detrimental impact that this can cause to the well-being of teachers. Teachers who are expected to not only teach, but also guide and protect vulnerable young people from the damaging influences of social media and other external factors. As a result, he left teaching to study a Masters’ and now his PhD in Positive Psychology – much to the benefit of BSix.
Whilst working with our SEPPT team and following on from the rise in knife crime in London, including the stabbing of ex-BSix student, Israel Ogunsola, Al also suggested linking up with the local Police in Hackney. Rebekah Westgate, Assistant Principal at the college arranged a meeting with Sergeant Daryl Jones, the College’s key link in the borough and Inner Armour to amazing effect. Daryl immediately could understand the potential benefit to his team undertaking a similar training to help them deal with the daily traumas and challenges that they face.
Al also delivered a whole day session to the A-level psychology students, expertly linking his work to their curriculum and enthusing them to get involved for 2018/19 as peer coaches. The SEPPT team culminated their training by presenting at an all staff conference in July. The response was enthusiastic!
Al summed up the past 6 months saying:
“Working with BSix has been an honour. Witnessing them overcoming challenges and then galvanizing psychological academia into their daily practice with dedication, hard work and skill has been brilliant. Looking forward to seeing the impact.”
Al is also working with Vic Goddard, ‘star of Educating Essex’, and Principal at Passmores Academy who have taken up their training and is one of the first Principals in the country to use positive psychology in staff training. Inner Armour was the sole sponsor for their “TEDx Youth@Harlow” event which included presenting the psychological data gathered during the BSix Inner Armour training. See Inner Armour’s video below.
Rebekah Westgate, Assistant Principal at BSix, reflected saying,
“I took a leap of faith when I contacted Al via Linked In. I wasn’t sure if this would work, but I was sure that we needed to try something new. My motivation was seeing the high proportion of our students struggling with varying levels of mental health difficulties, knowing the external pressures that can lead them astray and understanding the challenges they may face embarking on a career in the competitive world of today. Above all else, I was hoping to provide our staff with new ways to help students find their own solutions through coaching conversations; and through this equip students with additional skills and inner resilience to improve their achievement and success now and in the future.”
Rebekah Westgate, Assistant Principal and Lisa Novelli, Inclusion and Well-being manager