June 2019 saw the publication of my book Bird Therapy through the crowdfunding publisher Unbound. This happened after countless rejections from publishers across the United Kingdom and me almost giving up on the four years it took to write it. My dream was salvaged by a lovely editor, who showed faith in me to produce something that might help other people. It was then facilitated by the generosity
of just under 900 friends and strangers who supported a crowdfund which made the book a reality.
Bird Therapy is my memoir, recounting my struggles with poor mental health, suicidal ideation, addiction and debt – but also how an unlikely hobby helped to restore my mind and help me onto a path of recovery. It is also a project - researching what it is about birdwatching that helps me and so many others, to manage their wellbeing; and perhaps, how any immersive hobby can support this. I explore a wide range of themes, which all feature in this pack – but why a teaching pack at all?
I’m a qualified SENCO and have been teaching in alternative education provisions for the last five years, after coming from a background in the care and youth sectors; and my career has been built on engaging with hard-to-reach groups. I’ve always loved developing teaching resources and I taught PSHE for three years, so ultimately, it made sense for me to create something based on the foundations of my Bird Therapy work.
The National Curriculum states that ‘all schools should teach PSHE, drawing on good practice’
and further to this, in July 2018 the government announced that from September 2020 it will be compulsory for all schools to teach health education. As part of this, schools will be expected to deliver content that will ‘support the development of qualities such as confidence, resilience, self-respect and self-control’ as outlined in the new OFSTED inspection framework which came into effect in September 2019.
This new framework includes scrutiny of pupil’s personal development and will now also be
evaluating education providers’ work and curriculum to ensure that they support learners to ‘develop their character.’ Furthermore, the PSHE association divides the subject into 3 key themes: health and wellbeing, relationships and living in the wider world. Teaching about mental health (causes, symptoms and strategies) is a core element of their guidance for KS3 and 4 PSHE; and this is why I’ve produced this teaching pack. I hope you find the activities
interesting and engaging.