Walking the Walk

Evolve Staff Conference 2015

It is now almost a year since I wrote the post, ‘Walking the Walk’, which means we must be approaching the Evolve National Conference for 2015. This year promises to be even better than previous years. Looking at the programme it would appear that there will be:

  • more activity;
  • a broader range of innovative speakers;
  • a large number of cutting edge school leaders;
  • greater involvement from senior Health Mentors;
  • hands-on workshops led by various educational partners.

This year at the National College for Teaching & Leadership, Evolve and their programmes will be joined by:

For highlights of the National Conference, 2014, read on…

Working with Evolve has kept me both busy and smiley, especially with Project HE:RO and  their XLR8 Transition Camps, which were more successful this year in terms of both quantity and quality. Over 1000 Learners participated in 24 camps across the UK and the initial findings indicate that the ‘worries, wobbles and concerns’ regarding KS2/3 transition have been eased considerably. The Learners I spoke with were clearly more confident, making new friends, while recognising and developing their various talents. For examples of what was said, click here.

The Evolve National Conference followed hot on the heels of the final camps and I was again left smiling by just how much talent there is within the company; #EvolveConf14 marked a distinct coming of age, with members of the organisation now able to ‘Walk the Walk’, rather than simply ‘Talking the Talk’.

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Certain Health Mentors I have known for some years have matured and I now feel 100% confident about recommending them to schools. The National Conference also provided me with opportunities to meet new recruits and learn more about their journeys and aspirations. Much of this growth in quality has come about through the leadership and nurturing approach of directors and conference hosts, John Bishop and Graham Morgan, supported by Jan Edwards.

Discussions with another Workshop facilitator, James Langley from the Curriculum Innovation Team, indicated just how impressed he is with Evolve and their Health Mentors. As well as his workshop, which featured the debut of the thought-provoking ‘I am Hollie’ message, James co-hosted not one, but two Mentor Meets, one of which was at the unearthly time of 0800!

The first Mentor Meet featured the Health Mentors and a surprise guest appearance by Paul Hutson from Night Zoo Keeper, who shared their new website and unique creative challenges for children.

Both events featured many genuinely inspiring ideas, though personal highlights included:

  • ‘Art Attack’ by Ash Baker
  • ‘Dads and Lads’ by Luke Harding
  • ‘SEN Mentoring’ by Tom Pagett
  • ‘Play to Learn’ by Carl Hill
  • ‘Lego Therapy’ by Ollie Thurlby
  • ‘World Cup Football’ by Paul ‘Messi’ Norris
  • ‘My Huge Mentoring File’ by Serian Ganesh 
  • and the quirky but wonderful ‘Grass Heads’ by Naomi Lewis
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Grass Heads

Evolve National Conferences would be incomplete without the invited Key Note Speaker and this year the audience were both charmed and inspired by Karen Asemper. For further details of her story and determination click here. The fact that she is a fellow North Easterner and a dancer added the stamp of authenticity. As to the Awards, all the recipients were deserving of the applause, especially the Health Mentor of the Year, Rachel Barber. Well done to all of you…not forgetting the standing ovation for Dave Clifton.

For images of the event click here.

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Special mention must go to the venue chosen for the conference. Thank you to the wonderful folk at the National College for being wonderful hosts and sharing their wonderful learning environment.

My own workshops on ‘Taking Mentoring to the Next Level’ had the strap line, ‘Making Myself Redundant’. This had nothing to do with me looking towards retirement and a series of cruises supplemented by days in the allotment. As I said earlier, the calibre of the Health Mentors is high enough that they can now collaborate on their own ideas and create their own schemes of work, session plans and resources.

As a result of an earlier email sent by Theo Harris and his Regional Manager, Damon Fox, I decided to include a video clip by the irrepressible Nick Vujicic. To those of you who have never seen Nick or heard him speak, I urge you to view his work and listen to his messages. For an example of just how awesome he is, watch this…

To me, clips such as these should be essential viewing for all children, as indeed should the experiences featured in a previous blog post.

This clip made me think of events in my own life these past few months. A serious back injury has meant that I have been unable to exercise, let alone move without excruciating pain, for almost a third of the year. Likewise, a series of very heated discussions with one of my closest friends has meant that I have doubted many things in my own life. These events were then eclipsed by the sudden illness and death of my father in July; the impact of grief and loss comes and goes, while providing me with more questions than answers.

But hey, as I keep telling others…”pain is all relative.”

If we can pass the baton on to others in the way that my father passed on his beliefs and ideas to me then there is always hope.

As the programme for 2015 says, ‘Here’s to a New Era…’

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