This month marked a celebration of the completion of the first West Heath Certificate course. This is a unique, accredited four-day programme that I have created and delivered for staff at West Heath School. The Certificate demonstrates the school’s commitment to the principles of lifelong learning. It focuses on the development of the skills and insights central to becoming a more self-aware, emotionally capable individual, one who is open, resilient, and eager to explore their full potential.

The inter and intra-personal skills on which the course focuses are often referred to, in somewhat derisory tones, as “soft” skills. I would argue however, that the content of the course, and the challenges participants are faced with over the 4 days, are fundamental to high achievement and positive wellbeing.

 Clearly, it’s not just me who believes this. West Heath’s Principal, Photini Bohacek, along with her leadership team, also believe that providing for and challenging staff in this way is essential. Essential for the development and growth of staff as individuals, and key to building the capacity to most effectively support the children and young people the school is there to serve.

So, this may have been the first cohort to complete the course, but with two more courses scheduled for this academic year, they are set to be the first of many. Over the coming years the intention is to ensure that every member of the school’s team, whatever their role, gets the opportunity to access this unique provision. For my part, this is an exciting and innovative development, one that if initial participant feedback is anything to go by, staff are eager to embrace.

Here are just a couple of comments contributed by participants;

“It (the course) helped me reflect on my thought patterns and actions and lifestyle currently. I can see where I am being negative and now I have some simple solutions for improving those points. I can make small changes to improve and this will affect my wellbeing and my whole outlook on life. I got to listen to many different perspectives on life, wellbeing and psychology and learn practical tools to influence myself positively, which could lead to greater happiness, less stress and better relationships with the young people and those close to me, which is wonderful. I learned a great tool for working on things frustrating me and setting goals which I have already used with a friend. I also got to hear other staff and their experiences, and it helps to enrich my own thoughts and influence them.”

“The course has significantly impacted how I interact with the people around me and how I choose to respond, especially acknowledging that we are in the business of influencing others, and I am now far more aware of how I can more impact students in a positive way.”

But, what, more explicitly does the course include?

“West Heath Certificate – Facilitating Growth and Resilience in Ourselves and Others”

Certificate Content

Module 1 – “Making Sense of Ourselves”

  • NLP Communication Model
  • The Drama Triangle
  • Johari’s Window
  • Internal dialogue
  • Why are we less empathetic towards ourselves?
  • Being honest with ourselves – Harvard Implicit Awareness Tests
  • Accessing positive resources – Neurological Anchors

Module 2 – “Making Sense of Stress”

  • The neurology of stress
  • Siegel’s Hand Model of the Brain
  • Why do some people cope better with stress than others?
  • Good stress / bad stress
  • The experience of Awe and the power of “Other Praising Emotions”
  • Resilience Strategies

Module 3 – “The Language of Influence” (Self and Others)

  • The Meta Model
  • The Milton Model
  • Linguistic Reframing
  • The language of Time and Space
  • Grinder’s “Cats and Dogs”
  • Non-verbal communication
  • Effective listening

Module 4 – “Philosophical and Practical Routes to Wellbeing”

  • Wilbur’s 4 Quadrants
  • The advice of the ages
  • Seneca
  • Epicurus
  • Montaigne
  • Cicero
  • Frankl
  • Lyubomirsky
  • Epigenetics and Growth Mindsets
  • Mindfulness
  • Gratitude
  • Meaning and Purpose

If the course, or any elements of it, interest you, why not get in contact. I'm always happy to explore how I might make the work I do as accessible as possible. In the meantime though, my I wish everyone a wonderful Christmas and festive period.

Take care,