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Strengthening SEMH Through Positive Parental Engagement

With schools facing times of uncertainty and challenge, as they landscape a ‘new normal’, it is paramount that due care and attention is given to the mental health and wellbeing of children across Bradford.

The ongoing impact of Covid-19 and lock-down restrictions has seen many children miss months of schooling. This in turn has seen increased mental ill health issues, exacerbated pre-existing ones and negatively impacted on long term education. Moreover, the evidence suggests that these problems will disproportionately affect the most disadvantaged members of our communities.

In response to this,  Exceed Institute has been commissioned by Bradford Opportunity Area, to strengthen social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) through positive parental engagement.  

Exceed Institute's offer

Aim of the project

  • To provide Bradford primary schools with effective support that promotes positive parental engagement, by supporting parents when their children are displaying early signs of social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) difficulties. This structured package of training aims to promote confidence and resilience during Covid-19 recovery.


To provide training and support via a universal and enhanced offer to Bradford primary schools to develop their capacity to:

  • Support the well-being and mental health of children through their parents’ support as we forge a ‘new normal’

  • Support parents to positively engage with the school to encourage pupils’ re-attendance to the classroom supporting their learning, health and wellbeing

  • Creating a culture of sustainable behaviours and community cohesion that impact positively on home and school links

Summary of the support: Universal and targeted offers

Universal support to up to 156 Bradford primary school: Six virtual training and support for Parental Involvement Workers (PIW) to equip these colleagues with the skills and confidence to support the well-being of their pupils
Targeted Covid-19 recovery support for up to 10 schools identified through public health data that have been particularly hard hit by the pandemic

Capacity and expertise

Following extensive meetings during the summer term 2020 to scope this project and subsequent actions in the Autumn term 2020, a research and evidence-informed strategy has been developed with leading experts in their field. To meet project aims and objectives, expertise and capacity will be drawn upon from organisations’ including:

  • Born in Bradford (BIB) / Centre for Applied Educational Research (CAER): BiB will support with analysis of data from schools, child and parents

  • Carnegie Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools: Carnegie provide mental health expertise, award schools with a mark of excellence as well as providing a BAME professor to act as an advisor to schools

  • Positive Regard Teaching School Alliance: PRTSA are experts in mental health and behaviour support

  • System leaders from Bradford schools and trusts: These colleagues will support in the delivery and facilitation of training

  • Existing relationships built from a number of city-wide extended services that support schools and families reinforcing the important message ‘Parents Matter’

A more detailed description is available here:

Details of this structured support and training and how to book can be found here:

Webinar content 

Each webinar will be followed up with a gap task, to allow opportunities for school to put strategies and resources into practice. Evidence and impact of these will be recorded on a set proforma and will contribute to your school gaining a Positive Parental Engagement Mark of Excellence. 

Please note: The target audience of the webinars are Parental Involvement Workers (PIW) or similar and PSHE/Mental Health Leads or similar.

The Impact COVID-19 is Having on Mental Health

15th October 1:00pm- 3:00pm -led by Shelly Masters, Learning and Development Manager at Minds Ahead based in London and associate lecturer for Carnegie Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools.

  • What good mental health looks like and dispelling myths
  • Understand the relationship between mental health attainment  
  • Strategies to support children with positive SEMH, during Covid recovery

What Positive Parental Engagement Looks Like

 26th November 1:00pm- 3:00pm-led by Salma Rahman and Naveed Mushtaque, Community Learning Manager, Horton Park Primary School.

  • Developing effective collaboration
  • Empowerment and engagement strategies
  • Strengthening Parent Partnerships

Empowering Parents to Support Positive SEMH in their Children

 14th January 1:00pm- 3:00pm- led by Many Watkins, specialist in Mental Health First Aid training.

  • Making links between parenting and mental health
  • Practical strategies that empower parents to support healthy SEMH in children

Supporting Parents with Managing Behavioural Changes During the Pandemic

23rd February 1:00pm- 3:00pm -led by Luke Mitchell, Behavioural specialist at Positive Regard TSA, Wellspring Academies Trust.

  • How Covid has affected behaviours
  • Identifying and understanding the relationship between SEMH and behaviour
  • Relational based practice and strategies

Conducting Powerful Conversations with parents (The Power of Coaching)

15th April 1:00pm- 3:00pm-led by Bob Craig, Coach and Cognitive Behaviour Therapist for Minds Ahead and an associate lecturer for Carnegie Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools.

  • Using coaching strategies to improve relationships and conversations with parents/carers
  • Using the CAB (Clarify Avoid Benefit) Model to support a conversation about understanding a parent/ carers concern

Breaking Down Barriers and Restoring Confidence

1:00pm- 3:00pm 16th June led by Dr Kulvarn Atwal Executive Headteacher at Highlands Primary School Essex and author of The Thinking School

Additional Network forums :

  • 3rd February 2:00pm-3:00pm, led by  Vini Lander Professor of Race and Education from Centre for Race Education and Decoloniality 

SEMH Enhanced Opportunity Offer 

Working with Positive Regard TSA, part of Wellspring Academies Trust,we are able to offer limited number of schools more intensive targeted support in improving the SEMH of pupils in your school. Click here to see what that this could look like for your school.

Headteacher Launch Event



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Research-informed logic model/implementation plan

A comprehensive implementation plan for this project can be found here:

Further information

Please contact Emma Dobson:

Briefing Event PowerPoint

The below PowerPoint gives an overview of what to expect from the programme as well as schools commitment in gaining the Mark of Excellence 

Post Webinar Materials

Please click below to access resources from each session

Webinar One: The Impacts Covid-19 has had on Mental Health



Webinar Two: What Positive Parental Engagement Looks Like


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Webinar Three: Empowering Parents to Support Positive SEMH in their Children



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Webinar Four: Supporting Parents with Managing Behavioural Changes During the Pandemic


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