Independent Schools' Wellbeing - Speakers

Tuesday 11 May 2021 - Tuesday 25 May 2021
Digital delivery

Mike Buchanan, Founder, Positively Leading

Mike Buchanan is the Founder of Positively Leading, a bespoke coaching, mentoring and support consultancy focused on understanding, fulfilment and performance.  Mike’s interests and experiences are in organisational culture and climate, coaching for improved performance, leadership, character development and the use of positive psychology to promote well-being. Mike is the Executive Consultant to the world’s leading academy for elite skiers - Apex2100 - and was most recently the Executive Director of HMC, the English-speaking world’s oldest association of Head Teachers. As Head of Ashford School in the UK, part of United Learning,  he oversaw its transformation from a small girls’ school to a thriving, profitable, all-age, co-educational day/boarding, independent school of over 1,000 children and young people.  He is a Founding Fellow of the Chartered College of Teaching, Chair of the International Positive Education Network (UKEurope), an accredited associate of the AoEA and a consultant with LSC Education.

Listen to Mike introducing his session "Leadership that thrives in the face of change and challenge" in this short video.

Natasha Devon MBE, Writer, Speaker and Campaigner

Natasha Devon MBE is a writer, presenter & activist who delivering talks as well as conducting research on mental health, body image, gender & equality. She presents on LBC 7-9pm every Saturday. Natasha is a trustee for the charity Student Minds, an ambassador for the Reading Agency, a patron for No Panic, which helps people experiencing anxiety. She is a member of the Men & Boys Coalition, specifically advising on reducing male suicide rates, as well as a certified instructor for Mental Health First Aid England and eating disorder charity Beat. In 2018, Natasha co-founded ‘Where’s Your Head At’, a campaign aimed at improving the mental health of British workers through education and law change. She is also founder of the Mental Health Media Charter, which scrutinises media reporting on mental health with the aim of reducing stigma. She has two books: ‘A Beginner’s Guide to Being Mental: An A-Z’ and ‘Yes You Can: Ace Your Exams Without Losing Your Mind’, both published by Pan Macmillan. Her podcast ‘Staying Sane’ is available on Spotify, Acast and iTunes.

Watch Natasha introduce her upcoming session on Social Media: Encouraging Healthy Habits

Sam Garner, Director, Garner Education Services

Sam is a renowned speaker, trainer and author specialising in mental health and SEN. She has been a SENCo in a large secondary school and is a qualified Cognitive Behaviour Therapist and a Child and Adolescent Counsellor. Sam also set up a company providing mental health CBT programmes for schools. She is in high demand to speak at conferences and events and provides in-house training for schools and companies, nationally and internationally. Lauded for her humour and ‘telling it like it is’ approach to mental health, Sam has had her book Mental Health in Education published by Routledge, and regularly writes for several publications with more books in the pipeline for publication.

Watch Sam introduce her upcoming session on low mood and depression.

Belinda Heaven, Alpha Wellbeing Associates Ltd

Belinda is a qualified nurse and teacher. She has many years’ experience in developing and delivering training internationally. She is commissioned by Gloucestershire Healthy Living and Learning as lead consultant for emotional wellbeing and has acquired extensive knowledge. Belinda is a national trainer for Mental Health First Aid England and has had two books published – ‘The Mental Health Handbook for Primary School’ and ‘Wellbeing: Activities and Resources to Support Young People’s Mental Wellbeing’. Belinda works regularly with independent schools supporting staff, students and parents.

Watch Belinda's short video introduction to her session on working collaboratively with families and external services.

Professor Neil Humphrey, Sarah Fielden Chair: Psychology of Education, University of Manchester

Neil Humphrey is Sarah Fielden Chair: Psychology of Education at the Manchester Institute of Education, University of Manchester, UK. His research focuses on what we mean by mental health, why mental health matters, what matters for mental health, and what works for mental health, in children and young people.

Watch Neil's short introduction to his upcoming session "Fostering resilience in school".

Nina Jackson, SEND, Mental Health and Wellbeing Consultant

Nina Jackson is a Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Consultant with over 30 years' experience as a teacher, senior leader and therapist. She now works as an International Advisor and trainer working with children, teachers, leaders and parents. Her most recent award winning book ‘Of Teaching, Learning and Sherbet Lemons’ has a wide range of SEND related chapters to help you find your ‘fizz’ when it comes to supporting everyone and anyone in the field of SEND. You can find her at and as an Associate Director with Independent Thinking Ltd as well as on twitter as @musicmind.

Watch Nina introduce her session on embedding wellbeing throughout your school community and culture.

Julie Johnson, Psychotherapist, Mindfulness Educator and Author, Pathways

Julie trained as a nurse and has been an educational consultant specialising in wellbeing and PSHE for 28 years. Trained as a systemic therapist, Julie worked as a psychotherapist in schools and private practice. A leading provider of workshops and seminars for young people and parents in London, Julie teaches mindfulness and mindfulness self-compassion to children, teachers and parents. Author of several children’s books on issues including bullying, anger, and step families, Julie contributed to Radio 4 productions including ‘Bringing up Britain’ and a series on cyberbullying. She is committed to informing, equipping, affirming, and at times challenging, all who work with children, adolescents and parents.

Find out more about Julie's session "Support students to manage high internal and external expectations."

Grace Kelly, Teacher, Leader, and Educational Wellbeing Consultant

Grace Kelly has more than 16 years’ experience in the education industry, with a vast array of qualifications and experience. Most recently, Grace completed a Farmington Scholarship at the University of Oxford in staff wellbeing. She has worked in a variety of schools as pastoral lead, curriculum lead, extended leadership, specialist leader in education, and whole school wellbeing lead. Passionate about the need to keep good teachers in the job and a strong believer in the need to ‘Be well to Teach well’, she designed the Teach Well Planner and hosts a drive home show on Teacher Talk Radio. Grace believes there is enormous potential for positive change when investing in this area of school life and staff development.

Watch a short video by Grace that will introduce you to her session on staff wellbeing "Burnt out to balanced"

Gaelle Sullivan, Deputy Head Pastoral and Head of Boarding, Kent College Pembury

Gaelle Sullivan is Deputy Head Pastoral, Safeguarding Lead and Head of Boarding at Kent College Pembury. She worked at Caterham School previously as Safeguarding Lead and SENDCo. As Deputy Head, Gaelle is responsible for the welfare of all pupils in School and the overall administration and oversight of the pastoral system.  With extensive pastoral experience in the state and independent sector, Gaelle is well versed in having challenging conversations with a variety of stakeholders.

Hope Virgo, Author and Mental Health Consultant

Author and a multi award winning international leading advocate for people with eating disorders, Hope is the founder of the #DumpTheScales campaign, making sure every person with an eating disorder gets the support they need. Hope helps young people and employers deal with the rising tide of mental health issues which affect one in four people. Described by Richard Mitchell, CEO of Sherwood Forest Hospital, as "sharing a very powerful story with a huge impact", Hope is also a recognised media spokesperson, having appeared on various platforms including BBC Newsnight, Victoria Derbyshire, Good Morning Britain, Sky News and BBC News. For four years, Hope managed to keep it hidden, keeping dark secrets from friends and family. On 17th November 2007, Hope's world changed forever - she was admitted to a mental health hospital. Her skin was yellowing, her heart was failing. She was barely recognisable. Forced to leave her family and friends, the hospital became her home. Over the next year, at her lowest ebb, Hope faced the biggest challenge of her life. She had to find the courage to beat her anorexia.

Watch Hope introduce her upcoming session on Eating Disorders in this short video.