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Senior Mental Health Leadership – Advanced Award.
Government funding available

Course Leader – Dr Joanna Wood

Senior Mental Health Leadership - Advanced Award

Jo is the course leader on the Senior Mental Health Leadership Advanced Award course for Senior Mental Health Leads who are familiar with the role and/or those leaders who wish to further their skills with mental health practice in their provision. Jo began her career as a Secondary school Science teacher, progressing to leadership and coordination roles within school settings, before starting her career as an Educational Psychologist, giving her comprehensive insight into the demands, challenges and wonders of a school professional. Working as an EP has included; training Emotional Literacy Support Assistants; providing psychological advice and support to a Virtual School, special and mainstream provision; being a Video Interactive Guidance guider. Jo’s doctoral thesis was on supervision support groups for school staff. She is able to apply psychological knowledge of SEMH needs to individual, school and family contexts, and translate those needs into practical actions within systems. Jo has worked on change at individual, group and systemic whole-school levels, and her publication successes, include but are not limited to:

  • “Moving Forwards Programme” intervention for survivors of Child Sexual Exploitation, with Jody Walshe (2017)
  • “The Well Being Toolkit for Teens Resource Pack” contribution (published by Nurture UK)
  • “The Wellbeing Toolkit for Mental Health Leads” with Tina Rae and Amy Such (publisher Hinton House, 2020)

Why take this course?

If you are already a Senior Mental Health Lead (SMHL), are an intermediate practitioner that is familiar with the role, or are a leader wishing to develop skills in mental health practice familiar with the role, this DfE quality assured course will enable you to extend your skills and knowledge to an advanced level. For those just starting their journey in senior mental health leadership, click here for our SMHL Certificate or here for our general SMHL training guidance.

You will develop your confidence and competence to deliver whole school / college strategic change, monitor interventions and ensure appropriate mental health support in your setting. You will also develop processes to support your own and wider staff wellbeing. 

This course will challenge you to deepen your understanding of the role of Senior Mental Health Lead and bring about transformational change in your setting. You will use educational and psychological expertise and frameworks to extend your leadership and effect authentic and lasting impact.

You will learn how to use implementation science and systems thinking confidently, analyse mental health provision in your setting, and create an ambitious plan for strategic change, in collaboration with local stakeholders. Over at least two terms, you will implement the plan with the support of your Tutor Coach, Senior Mental Health Lead peers on the course and a Colleague Working Group in your school / college.

How will your setting benefit?

The benefits to your educational setting will include:

  • Consolidation of a positive, values-based approach, including around staff wellbeing.
  • Application of leadership skills to enact positive, lasting change at the whole school / college level. 
  • Access to a range of tools and strategies to promote mental health and wellbeing.
  • Improved wellbeing for all students, including those with identified needs.
  • Improved stakeholder engagement, including with parents, CYP, external services.
  • Development of a coherent working package of effective policies.
  • Effective use of data to plan intervention and monitor change effectively.

Advanced-level Senior Mental Health leads will be able to:

  • Understand the context, complexity and interactional nature of SEMH, including relevant theory applied to practice.
  • Draw on a range of leadership styles to hold the SMHL role with confidence and success.
  • Implement impactful plans and actions.
  • Develop a positive values-based approach, openness and normalisation of mental health.
  • Conceptualise and map their setting’s risk and resiliency factors, leading to action planning. Set up systems to engage stakeholder groups, including enabling student and carer voice.
  • Have a greater whole school understanding on discrimination

Course content

The course’s central task is to ensure SMHLs are confident and capable to implement effective whole-school change at a leadership level. We build confidence and competence across the course, through activities and peer interaction that stimulate authentic impact (Chee, 2014). We introduce systemic thinking so that SMHLs consider different levels in school systems; how they link and interact.

The Introduction Strand of the course supports you to engage confidently with practice-led learning, including the use of our rich and intuitive online learning environment. You will begin to engage with key resources and to set up your support networks, both in school / college and through the course. You will meet your Tutor Coach and begin considering your leadership skills and goals with them.

Strand 1: The SMHL: Role and Processes is concerned with the leadership element of the SMHL role, including active reflection on your own leadership ideas, style and goals. You will consider the context of the SMHL role, and be introduced to tools and ideas linked to whole-school approaches, including activities focused on organisational change and implementation science.

Strand 2: Theory and Perspectives about Social Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) provide the context for understanding SEMH needs. Through a range of activities, you will explore ways of thinking about SEMH using key psychological and educational frameworks, and up-to-date research. Your Tutor Coach will support you to complete three practical assignments linked to mental health provision in your setting. 

Strand 3: Reviewing SEMH Provision supports you to audit and critically review your SEMH provision in a structured way, including consideration of discrimination and staff wellbeing. Public Health England’s eight principles, and a risk and resilience framework, are used to structure this, alongside carefully selected case studies.

Strand 4: Planning and Developing SEMH Provision prepare you for life as a SMHL beyond the course. Having built up your skills, knowledge and confidence in previous strands, you will bring your work together in a Plan for Change Strategic Portfolio – a working document enabling you to embed sustainable systemic change in the setting. You will maintain access to our online community for a year after course completion, providing access to a vibrant community of SMHLs of varied experience, with whom you can discuss ongoing challenges and share good practice.

How is the Advanced Award delivered?

This flexible course is online by design and is accessible to busy professionals. It is delivered using our proven model of online experiential professional learning.

The majority of the Senior Mental Health Leadership – Advanced Award course content is delivered through our proprietary online learning platform, Campus Online.

There will also be opportunities to collaborate with fellow leads to discuss the practice and challenges of the role.

Included within the course is around six hours of tutoring and coaching from your Tutor Coach, who supports you on your journey as a leader, and provides tutoring and coaching around the five key assignments. This time often works best as flexibly delivered asynchronous communication and support using our model of supported professional development.

This course has been freshly-developed by Educational Psychologists and is founded on our successful SEMH masters’ module. Tutor Coaches are all experienced online tutors and are professionally qualified to postgraduate level. Many have training in coaching as part of their main professional training.

Tutor Coaches

You will be allocated a named Tutor Coach.

Dr Joanna Wood (Real Group Senior Educational Psychologist, Course Leader and Trainer/Tutor)

Katie Hickin (Qualified Senior Teacher and Real Group Leader of the MEd SEND Programme)

Dr Mark Turner (Real Group Co-founder, Managing Director, Educational Psychologist and Trainer / Tutor)

Dr Siobhan Mellor (Real Group Director, Educational Psychologist and Trainer / Tutor) 

Dr Hannah Fairall (Real Group Educational Psychologist and Trainer/Tutor)

Dr Brigid O’Leary (Educational Psychologist and Tutor)

Jalak Patel (Real Group Senior Educational Psychologist with international school experience and Trainer /Tutor)

Dr Sue Sheppard (Real Group Senior Educational Psychologist and Trainer/Tutor)

Dr Anne-Marie Baverstock (Educational Psychologist and Tutor)

Sean Trimble (Executive Head Teacher, CEO of an Academy Trust and Tutor)

Celia McKiernan (Art Therapist and Tutor)

How will you be assessed?

There will be 5 assignments to complete, including both practice-led and reflective tasks. Through completion of these assignments, you will collate evidence related to your role to help determine an action plan of next steps and help create your own mental health resource bank to assist with staff training.

Are you eligible?

The Senior Mental Health Leadership – Advanced Award is aimed at SMHLs familiar with the role, intermediate practitioners and leaders that are looking to develop their skills with mental health practice. Delegates should be in a position where they are already leading on mental health in their setting, or due to step into such a role imminently. On this course, you will embed learning through practice in your setting, so will need the support of the Headteacher/Head of Centre

You will also need to have an undergraduate degree to enrol on this course.

Looking for a short online SEMH course for your staff? You may be interested in our Level 5 Emotionally Connected Classroom course offered by our sister company Dyslexia Action. The course offers high-quality CPD, is delivered online, requires 30 hours of study over a seven week period and runs four times a year. Please note DfE funding cannot be used for the cost of this course.

How much does it cost?

The Senior Mental Health Leadership – Advanced Award course costs £1,495 plus VAT. Schools are able to reclaim the VAT paid.

Grant funding may be available if you work in a school or college in England. The latest information about this grant funding is available here. We also have a guide to applying for funding. Funding is now confirmed for eligible schools up until the end of March 2024. Eligible schools and colleges must apply for a senior mental health lead training grant and be available to begin training on or before 31 March 2024.

We can confirm that this course has achieved quality-assured status from the DfE, and will be eligible for grant funding according to the process outlined by the DfE.

Senior Mental Health Leadership – Advanced Award
DfE course reference number: SMHL039

If you do not receive an email, you can contact the DfE on MentalHealth.LeadTraining@education.gov.uk. Grant payments are then made once the evidence has been reviewed and approved.

To ensure grants do not go unclaimed, grants will be released to applicants on the waiting list if you do not complete this final stage of your application within 3 weeks from being asked to do so.

The grant funding amount is up to £1,200 per setting. You can still book a place on the course if you work in an international school or setting, which is not eligible for grant funding, assuming you meet the eligibility criteria and your school funds the cost of the course.

When does the course start?

Choose from the following cohort start dates:

  • 15 January 2024
  • 15 May 2024
  • 15 September 2024

All of the cohorts above are eligible for DfE funding grants. Non-funded place are also available for schools and individuals that are not eligible for this funding.

Please note: as it takes time to process your application and payment, we strongly recommend that you register as soon as possible so that you don’t miss the next intake.

How long does it take to complete the course?

The duration of the Senior Mental Health Leadership – Advanced Award course is up to one year and equates to 300 hours of study.

We do understand, however, that circumstances can arise that could prevent the course from being completed in this time period. If this is the case, an extension can be arranged in conjunction with the admin team and your tutor coach.

Many of the approved courses offered by other providers are short courses, to be completed by the end of the academic year. At Real Training, we believe that learning should be practice-led and completed over a longer period to ensure long-term retention and maximum impact. Therefore you can take up to 12 months to complete our Senior Mental Health Leadership Advanced Award and you will be making a difference in your setting straight away. We are happy to confirm that the DfE has approved this course duration.

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