Join Gazebo and Central Youth Theatre as they 'Head in The Right Direction'

HeadStart is reaching out into Wolverhampton communities, and especially into the four target areas that are the focus for HeadStart Universal and Universal+ support. We wanted to highlight and share the benefits of HeadStart with parents and the community in those areas, and to let them know what they can expect from HeadStart as the programme develops with new opportunities for young people in schools and the community. HeadStart therefore commissioned Gazebo Theatre and Central Youth Theatre to create a theatre show for parents. The show, titled ‘Head In the Right Direction’, shares the objectives of HeadStart through drama, dance, and role play.

The premiere of the show took place at Bilston Town Hall last Wednesday, with further shows scheduled soon.

Future showings of 'Head in the Right Direction'

  • Thursday 27th April, 6pm. Venue: The Big Venture Centre, 15, Chesterton Road, The Scotlands, WV10 8SP
  • Friday 28th April, 6.30pm. Venue: Eastfields Community Centre, Colliery Road, Off Willenhall Road, WV1 2QY
  • Saturday 13th May, 12pm. Venue: Moreton School, Old Fallings Road, Bushbury WV10 8BY
  • Monday 22nd May, 11am. Venue: Bob Jones Centre, (in partnership with Re-entry), Bromley Street, Blakenhall, WV2 4AS

Members of the HeadStart team attended the premiere. Here is what Tara, from the HeadStart Young Person Engagement Team ( said about the performance.

Thoughts on 'Head in the Right Direction'

Key messages were present throughout the entire performance. It was really relatable to families and young people in Wolverhampton. The show explored the pressures young people are faced with on a daily basis, as they try to conform to the media’s image of perfection:

I’ve learned it’s the imperfections that make me stand out … that’s what makes me unique

The performers cleverly represented a range of family set ups and home environments, including both the stereotypical, and unconventional! They portrayed a number of serious issues which affect many of our young people today; online bullying, grooming and sexual exploitation, teenage pregnancy, eating disorders, self-harm and suicide were all touched upon. The performers delivered an insight into both sides of each scenario, capturing the concerns, frustrations and effects that situations have on both a young person and their family members.

I was raised in a household where discipline and hard work was drilled into me as a lad! What ever happened to a stiff upper lip. I believe in tough love
I feel my mother is suffocating me, she just won’t let me breath…it’s like a huge heavy weight weighing me down

The performers explored the question “What is normal?”, and generational change in how we see gender roles, sexuality and diversity in society. The message was that there is no one size fits all, and that every family unit is different and has its own way of functioning. With support from HeadStart, it will be possible to make use of new tools and skills to improve family life and relationships; no quick fixes, certainly, but HeadStart working with parents and families to make long-term positive change a reality.

Investing our time to share our stories, might mean someone else who may be suffering or in a similar situation may be able to see a positive way forward
It’s ok to not be ok!

Update: The HeadStart Spring Conference, Thursday April 27th. All booked up ...

HeadStart Spring Conference instagram.png

Update (April 11th, 2017): All places for the conference have now been booked - many thanks to everyone who has booked a place. There was huge demand for places; apologies to anyone who wanted to attend who was unable to do so.

We are now also delighted to confirm the following additions to the programme:

  • David Gregory, UK Education Consultant for LEGO UK will be delivering a keynote presentation.
  • Time To Change ( will be leading workshop sessions sharing information and ideas from their wonderful nationwide programmes.

You can follow the conference on Twitter using the hashtag #hsconf17, so if you were unable to attend, or just want to follow along with the conversation, join us online from 9am on the 27th April.

HeadStart are delighted to invite professionals and partners from the health, education, welfare, police and voluntary sectors to attend the free HeadStart Spring Conference on 27th April at Wolverhampton Science Park.

Confirmed keynote speakers and workshop leaders for the event are:

  • Jackie Beere, author, speaker and consultant. Jackie's books include Grow: Change your Mindset, Change Your Life, and The Perfect (Ofsted) Lesson. For more on Jackie, visit her website at
  • Dr. Margot Sunderland, author, speaker, and the Director of Education and Training at The Centre for Child Mental Health in London. Margot's books include Conversations That Matter: Talking with Children and Teenagers in Ways That Help and What Every Parent Needs to Know. For more on Margot, visit her website at
  • Ken Corish, Online Safety Manager for South-West Grid For Learning ( Ken is one of the country's leading authorities on internet safety and digital literacy, and on the effects of digital technologies on the mental well-being of young people.

Further speakers and workshop leaders will be confirmed soon. The event will also give attendees the chance to engage directly with the HeadStart team, and to find out about the opportunities and programmes available to organisations and young people in our city.

The event will run from 9am until 3pm, with registration from 8:15am. The event is free of charge to all delegates, including lunch and refreshments.

Jackie Beere

Jackie Beere

Dr. Margot Sunderland

Dr. Margot Sunderland

Ken Corish

Ken Corish

HeadStart Schools Engagement Event - Wednesday 22nd March

On Wednesday 22nd March, the HeadStart Schools Team brought together Wolverhampton headteachers, senior leaders, and other key staff from schools to an evening Schools Engagement event at Colton Hills Secondary School.

The schools invited to attend came from four key areas of the city for HeadStart, selected on the basis of a needs analysis performed for our phase 3 Big Lottery Bid in 2016.

The four areas are:

  1. Low Hill, Bushbury South and The Scotlands
  2. Heath Town, Springfield, Park Village, Old Heath and Eastfield
  3. Bilston East
  4. Blakenhall, All Saints, Parkfields and Ettingshall

Representatives from 18 schools (primary, secondary, special and PRU) attended the session. Where schools were unable to attend, the Schools’ team will be going out to meet them over the coming weeks; a number of these meetings had already preceded the meeting.

The event provided an opportunity for schools within all four designated areas to meet The HeadStart Schools Team and to learn how HeadStart will support them in delivering a new curriculum and in carrying out initial screenings, audits and evaluations with young people.

The event began with a brief introduction from the Head of Service for HeadStart, Kevin Pace. Kevin provided an overview of the development of the HeadStart programme, and introduced delegates to the information and resources in the ‘goody bags’ provided for them to take away.

Kevin then handed over to Dave Hill from SUMO (Stop, Understand, Move On), who gave an interactive and engaging overview of SUMO as a core part of the HeadStart schools’ curriculum. Dave’s workshop included lots of opportunities for discussion between colleagues working in schools in the same geographic areas … it also included a brief, dramatic appearance by our Sumo Apprentice aka Emerson from our Media and Comms team.

Dave looked at the following SUMO themes, and how SUMO thinking can support young people in changing their thinking and behaviours:

  • Change your T-Shirt
  • Remember the Beachball
  • Fruity Thinking
  • Hippo Time is OK
  • Learn Latin
  • Dare to Dream (Ditch Doris Day)

As part of the ‘Change your T-Shirt’ theme, delegates were asked to ‘graffiti’ the back of HeadStart t-shirts with a list of challenges for the young people they work with. Some of the key issues that were identified were:

  • Bullying
  • GCSEs / team stress / pressure to succeed
  • Safeguarding
  • Online issues: sexting, cyberbullying, access to inappropriate content
  • Self-harm
  • Teenage pregnancy
  • Safeguarding
  • Anxiety
  • Low aspirations
  • Lack of confidence
  • Security
  • Parental and family issues
  • Peer pressure
  • Domestic violence

At the end of Dave’s session, delegates were asked to reflect on HeadStart and the SUMO principles and write on the front of their t-shirts how they believe HeadStart will help improve their school. Their T-shirt graffiti referenced themes including:

  • Out of school activities
  • Parental engagement
  • Community inclusion
  • Mentoring for students
  • Change mindset
  • Improving emotional well being
  • Happy, healthy, resilient and caring students
  • Allowing for integration and reintegration
  • Raising aspirations
  • Supporting students in being inspired by their dreams

To complete the session, Emma Tomblin, Senior HeadStart Schools Coordinator looked ahead to the next steps for schools in Wolverhampton:

  • The ongoing development of a new schools’ curriculum, for launch in September 2017. Schools will shortly be invited to a curriculum development overview meeting in mid-May, to contribute to this development process and understand the approach to the curriculum.
  • The process for the national evaluation survey, to be completed by all Year 7 students in secondary and special schools in the four target areas.

Feedback from the meeting was really positive. Here is some of the feedback from school staff that attended:

  • "It was great to meet the teams and to identify what is needed in our locality"
  • Kids are so enthusiastic. Only great things can happen!
  • I was slightly anxious at first to see how it would fit in but now I’m feeling optimistic
  • Feeling positive about how much HeadStart has developed
  • Exactly what our school needs!
  • Looking forward to up-skilling our staff and developing consistency across the school

The HeadStart Schools Team would like to say thank you to all of the schools who attended the event and a huge thank you to Colton Hills Secondary School for hosting the event. Don’t forget to:

We are all very excited about what's to come and look forward to working with you all!

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Safer Internet Day 2017 - Merridale Primary School podcast on "The Power of Image"

HeadStart Wolverhampton is supporting Safer Internet Day 2017.

HeadStart is joining the global Safer Internet Day campaign to promote the positive, safe and responsible use of technology. Coordinated in the UK by the UK Safer Internet Centre, Safer Internet Day is happening today (Tuesday 7th February).

Celebrated in over 100 countries, Safer Internet Day will see us join hundreds of organisations right across the UK and globally to ‘be the change’ and help create a better internet. 

To celebrate the day, we recorded a Safer Internet Day podcast with young people from Year 5 at Merridale Primary School, based around the Key Stage 2 theme for Safer Internet Day 2017 of 'The Power of Image'.

Here is the finished podcast from Merridale Primary - we hope you enjoy the show!

Safer Internet Day is an opportunity for everyone across the UK and globally to unite for a better internet. Whether you are a young person, parent, carer, school or organisation, we can all ‘be the change’ and take positive actions to make the internet a better place. Hundreds of schools and organisations have pledged their support for Safer Internet Day and it is this collaboration that helps ensure Safer Internet Day has such a positive impact, reaching 40% of UK children in 2016 and growing year on year
— Will Gardner, Director of the UK Safer Internet Centre and CEO of Childnet