Our open letter to Gavin Williamson was featured on BBC Sheffield on 5th May 2021
On 5th May 2021, BBC Radio Sheffield featured the EdWellColl Open Letter to Gavin Williamson. EdWellColl founding member Frederika Roberts was interviewed by Toby Foster on the Breakfast Show, and the item was covered in every news segment throughout the day, making headline news for most of the morning’s hourly news segments.
Below, you can listen back to Frederika’s interview and to a selection of the news clips.
Open Letter to The Rt Hon Gavin Williamson CBE, MP, Secretary of State for Education
A group of educationalists known as the ‘Education Wellbeing Collective’ have written an open letter to the UK’s Secretary of Education, the Rt Hon Gavin Williamson, calling for ‘catch-up’ education to focus on relationships, outdoor activities and play instead of an academic curriculum.
The signatories include teachers, headteachers, mental health and wellbeing experts, safeguarding consultants, behaviour specialists and academics.
Education Consultant and Leadership Coach Thérèse Hoyle, who founded the Education Wellbeing Collective, says “We came together during the first Covid-19 lockdown in 2020 because we wanted to do something to support wellbeing in education at a time of crisis. Since then, we have provided resources and information for teachers and parents and we have collectively written a book to support whole school wellbeing as we move beyond the current critical situation. We couldn’t sit back and say nothing in light of the risks that an excessive focus on academic catch-up poses to children’s wellbeing and mental health, and their ability to learn.”
At a time when there has been much talk about the need for children to catch-up academically, the Education Wellbeing Collective highlight that, in order for pupils to be receptive to learning, they need to “experience positive emotions, re-connect positively with others, participate in sport and creative activities, engage in free play and be in the open air”.
Frederika Roberts, a whole school wellbeing trainer, lecturer, speaker and author, who sent the letter on behalf of the Education Wellbeing Collective, says “Extensive research evidence shows we need to support children’s mental health and wellbeing to give them the best possible chances in life. Now, more than ever, we need to focus on what they really need for their wellbeing. As the country opens up over the summer months, children need to catch-up on the relationships and play that they have missed out on, and when they’re in school, they need every opportunity to connect, not ‘silent corridors’.
The signatories of the open letter are asking the Secretary of Education for a meeting to discuss the best way to support children’s learning.
The Education Wellbeing Collective (#EdWellColl) were founded in 2020 by Thérèse Hoyle, an Education Consultant and Leadership Coach. The Collective’s aim is to “champion the evolution of wellbeing in schools and their communities”.
EdWellColl is an informal collective of educationalists consisting of teachers, headteachers, wellbeing and mental health experts, behaviour specialists, character education specialists, safeguarding consultants, researchers and writers. They meet once a fortnight to discuss ways to support wellbeing in education.
They have shared free resources on their website, have broadcast live panel discussions via their Facebook page (where they also share resources and information) and have written “The Big Book of Whole School Wellbeing”, due to be published in November 2021 by Corwin Press, a SAGE Publications imprint.
Anyone working in or with education and interested in joining the collective for their regular meetings and becoming more actively involved can contact them via their Facebook page or Twitter account.
Dodd, H.F., FitzGibbon, L., Watson, B.E. & Nesbit, R.J. (2021) Children’s Play and Independent Mobility in 2020: Results from the British Children’s Play Survey. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 18(8): 4334. Available at: https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/18/8/4334
Fredrickson, B.L. (2004) Broaden-and-Build Theory of Positive Emotions. The Royal Society 359(1449): 1367–1377.
Roffey, S. (2012) Developing positive relationships in schools. In: Roffey S (ed.) Positive Relationships: Evidence Based Practice across the World. Berline / Heidelberg: Springer Science + Business Media, pp. 145–162.
Bailey, R. (2017) Sport, physical activity and educational achievement – towards an explanatory model. Sport in Society, 20(7): 768-788.