Endeavour Academy is a Free School based in Peterlee which offers education to young people in KS4 from across County Durham and beyond, who have disengaged and been unable to manage within a mainstream school due to social and emotional issues.
In 2019, I attended a Train the Trainer event in Gateshead. Initially, I found myself in a room full of mainly NHS health professionals who spoke about how they would use MECC to support their patients during scheduled appointments. There was no reference to Education or young people which left me assuming that I was in the wrong place and considered leaving. However, I am glad that I did not leave because I realised how MECC could benefit our whole school and the wider community in many different ways.
What did you do?
After the course, I spoke to the Head Teacher about what I had learnt and how we could implement MECC into the school to support mental wellbeing and positively impact on relationships. She was equally as keen and give the go ahead to move forward with embedding MECC into the school ethos.
We started by allocating time on the school timetable and making sure MECC was as important as Maths, English and Science. We teach students to use kind and respectful language and to always be mindful of how their behaviours and actions can impact on those around them. We teach students, staff and parents that MECC can not only benefit the person or people with whom we are communicating, but it also positively impacts on our own mental wellbeing. We teach them restorative approaches alongside MECC. We teach students to smile, hold doors, speak to or sit next to someone who might feel isolated or alone, we teach them how to make a difference through the everyday contacts both inside and outside of school.
What has been the impact?
As a result, we have received amazing feedback from the students themselves who tell us they feel a lot kinder. Examples the students gave of using MECC recently were:
Giving up their seats on a bus for someone less able
Having a conversation with an elderly lady as they walked to college
Walking with and supporting a student with additional needs to get their lunch and escorting and supporting in vocational lessons
Ensuring everyone gets picked for a team activity and making sure no one is left feeling left out
Visitors to the school always comment on the welcoming atmosphere where staff and student relationships are respectful and purposeful. Students tell us their behaviour improves both in school and at home, many students who were referred to us at significant risk of permanent exclusion are no longer in trouble and their relationships at home have improved significantly as a result. The attendance of the majority of students, many of whom were referred as complete school refusers, also improves a great deal, again positively impacting on the wider family. We have parents who tell us that they are less stressed at work, finally able to seek and hold down employment as their home lives are much improved. We have staff members who all love their job roles and feel well valued and equally as important in the cycle of change.
Myself and the Head of School are extremely proud of our team, our staff and our students often bring the rainbow to what could have been a cloudy day and we will be forever grateful to each of them for helping us to create such a wonderful place to be.