Workshops and training to explore and develop school culture and pupil voice through dialogue.
Hosting Courageous Conversations in your school will help to create a culture of safety, belonging and respect, where students and staff feel seen and heard around the big issues affecting them.
Offered as a one-off or regular practice, Courageous Conversations create a held space to talk about ongoing conflictual issues and hot topics, turning them into opportunities for personal and collective growth. They offer a safe and powerful way to support pupil voice and student wellbeing, respond to Ofsted guidance, and model respectful and appropriate adult behaviour. The format can be used to enhance participation and engagement in RSHE lessons, form time and other extra-curricular sessions.
Conflicts are more often than not perpetuated by easily addressed communication issues. That’s why by creating space to practice and model non-violent communication, listening deeply to one another and tending to our relationships, we can overcome seemingly intractable challenges seen in schools (e.g. bullying, racism, sex & sexual harassment, homophobia, xenophobia, mental health, identity, climate, gender, drugs and alcohol).
We will show you how to create a safe sharing space and how to hold that space in a manner in which:
- Participants are part of a proactive democratic process addressing the issues being discussed
- Participants feel seen, heard and appreciated
- Difficult issues can be safely expressed and received
- Cultural tensions are eased
- Participants develop emotional literacy by learning to articulate and navigate their feelings and needs
- Participants learn to work healthily with conflict
- Participants learn life-affirming communication and relational skills
- Participants learn a structure for navigating sensitive topics that can be applied elsewhere across the school (and elsewhere in life!
“After the training my staff were so full of enthusiasm and excitement about what they experienced and how they can bring this to bear in the school. They spoke about how they had been personally impacted by the training and how they wanted this to affect the way we work with students in the school. It was exactly what I was wanting, it opened their eyes and minds in ways I’d really hoped it would.”
– John Taylor, Principal, UAE South Bank School
Suppressing conflict, leaving it unaddressed, shifting blame or simply hoping it goes away – in the long term these strategies don’t work. For our individual and collective wellbeing, we need to be able to talk about what is holding us back. Personal transformation is made possible when our communities provide us with sufficient care, support and a nurturing environment, which is exactly what our Courageous Conversations supports.
You can see more evidence of the importance of talking for our individual and collective wellbeing in Dr Sophie Redlin’s global research here.
HOW IT WORKS
There are three pathways to the Courageous Conversations approach;
- We host Courageous Conversations, either as a one-off or as a series of sessions
- We train students to host Courageous Conversations. This grows student leadership and pupil voice
- We train staff to host Courageous Conversations. This grows the number of emotionally available adults in school
The focus of any Courageous Conversation can be established in advance or democratically discerned through the process itself.
- During an ‘off-timetable’ day, groups of up to 20 participants per facilitator meet and share personal stories and reflections around a chosen topic. Through this listening campaign we capture key insights from each group and create a summary report to share back with SLT.
- We host a facilitated 2 hour conversation for the whole school to come together to address a ‘wicked problem’. This can be done at any scale, large or small, and can include students + whoever else you want (e.g. parents, staff, governors). We will canvas the community for reflections beforehand, present these during the session and share key insights afterwards in order to promote mutual learning and decision making.
- We host a series of 6-10 sessions, each one diving into a key issue affecting the school e.g. race, mental health, sexual abuse, relationships.
- We train staff or students over the course of a day (or two half days) in the Courageous Conversations approach. We then coach them to facilitate in pairs conversations for small groups of up to 20 participants. We co-facilitate with them initially until they feel confident enough to go it alone.