Simon Antwis, Senior Education Consultant at STEER Education: Steer Education Is a Whole-School Mental Health Platform Empowering Teachers

August 24, 2022

STEER Education is a whole-school mental health platform empowering teachers to measure, track and improve the self-regulation and mental wellbeing of young people.

Tell us about yourself?

Simon Antwis has been a headteacher of three schools, as well as a school inspector. He is passionate about young people’s mental health. He now works as STEER Education’s Senior Education Consultant and has a Masters in educational leadership from the University of Buckingham.

He is a self-confessed data nerd, but certainly not a slave to data and therefore ensures that teachers’ instincts and soft evidence gathering are not lost in the process of giving young people the best possible guidance to life beyond school.

If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?

You cannot begin to hope to identify, monitor and address pupils’ mental health and wellbeing without firstly doing exactly the same for yourself.

What problem does your business solve?

Our tool, STEER Tracking, measures, tracks and improves the mental health and self-regulation of students aged between eight and 18.

Through a sophisticated online assessment three times a year, the tool alerts schools to students who may have emerging mental health risks, but are not showing visible signs of vulnerability.

What is the inspiration behind your business?

To be able to identify potential mental health and wellbeing issues in young people before they manifest as a more serious social-emotional risk. To be able to live with myself as a headteacher that I did all that I could have done to prevent emotional harm to even a solitary child.

What is your magic sauce?

Our tool does more than identify just the expressed voice or conscious self-perception of the child because children are not asked direct questions, but value-neutral questions which elicit unconscious biases in their thinking.

It’s therefore less easy for them to see what is the ‘right’ answer, and what answers might cause concern.

The tool also arms a young person beyond the life of the school. They will be able to see their data, their biases and how the school addressed these biases over their entire school career.

They can take this information and use it to self-regulate in further education, higher education or the world of work. STEER Tracking is unique in three ways: it’s proactive, it’s longitudinal and it serves a young person beyond school.

What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?

To make STEER Tracking as accessible as possible to as many young people as we can, but primarily those from deprived or challenging circumstances.

We want to be the thought leaders on cognitive steering and to be at the forefront of a change in mindset in how we support young people with their mental health and wellbeing.

Our mission statement is: We exist to enable the science of cognitive steering to have the greatest possible positive impact on humanity.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?

To convince the Government that we need a systematic approach to early identification of mental health and wellbeing signs in young people to prevent

a) children descending into more serious mental health issues and

b) to alleviate the pressure from school interventions and external agency interventions on bodies such as CAMHS. To convince decision makers that a proactive, preventative approach will save time, money and lives.

How do people get involved/buy into your vision?

We want as many schools and organisations that support young people to collaborate and partner with us.

We want educational leaders to see the value in tackling mental health and wellbeing issues and the impact this can have on educational outcomes for young people.

We want the Government and decision-makers to adopt a radical new approach to addressing mental health and wellbeing in our society.

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