Which children are responsible for rewriting the special needs register across Britain?
Our 81st interview is with Professor Barry Carpenter CBE who has a career in education spanning 40 years. Once, the youngest headteacher in England at just 26 years old, he is the UK’s first professor of mental health in education.
Imagine if all schools on admission, asked about birth history
In this podcast, listen to Barry and Teacher Toolkit founder, Ross McGill discuss his life in education, how he has weaved in and out of teaching, working alongside the Secretary of State for Education and his work as director of the ‘children with complex learning difficulties and disabilities research project’. Today, Barry is professor of mental health and education – the first post of its kind in the country – at Oxford Brookes University. Getting straight down to business, we ask him to describe the evolution of education and classroom teaching throughout Barry’s long career in education. We learn about his thoughts on the implementation of the national curriculum, changes in teacher workload and understand why teaching is a relationship-based profession.
Listen to the podcast
Why should teachers use emotional wellbeing interventions?
Teachers need ‘compassion’ and Barry argues that society needs it as a whole, and at the time of recording when schools across the UK were going into lockdown, he suggests that time is now. Barry’s doctoral research work spans across several areas of special needs disorders, including the ‘teaching of reading’ to some children who can read, but without speech, as well as his extensive work with families.
Barry describes the state of education for prematurely born children, a topic close to Ross’ heart (whose son was born on the 4th percentile of all children), and more about the special needs register. Around 50,000 children entered all schools with a special need, arising from premature birth, yet very few schools ask about birth history to inform provision upon a pupil’s admission to a school. If anything, these statistics are rising!
What’s in your ‘happiness box’?
To conclude, we ask Barry about his new role and how he plans to lead mental health across the UK. We question ‘Why our teachers are not trained in mental health?’ and why we need to create mental wealth in our children to make them emotionally strong. We unpick his remit as the ambassador for mental health across the UK, new pathways for teachers, as well as what the evidence suggests for an increase in the mental health issues in our children. One example provided is a child playing on an iPad for a number of hours. If screen time is too much, the brain begins to enter virtual reality and reshapes the neuroplasticity of the brain. Finally, we ask Barry what his advice is for teachers wanting to become headteachers, why it is important to teach grief (see the bereavement box), his top tips for teachers working with children who have Downs syndrome and the concept of a happiness box.