This episode hosted by Professor Barry Carpenter CBE OBE FCCT introduces Vicci Wells who is the National Manager for the Youth Sport Trust, as well as an ex-teacher. At a time of much debate as to how we support our children and young people to recover from the impact of the pandemic, Active recovery is a positive approach to rebuilding the mental well-being and emotional resilience of our children.

Vicci describes the focus of Active Recovery Hubs, which are supported by over 40 UK Sports organisations. The activities are free to all children; the ethos of Active recovery is firmly grounded in the research around the link between physical and mental health.

A particular intervention that Vicci has spearheaded is Sports Sanctuaries. This concept is ‘of the moment’: a direct intervention that can be co-constructed with children, and self regulated by them, as to how and when they choose to engage with the Sports Sanctuary in their school. An exciting offshoot of this concept, led by Riverside School in Northern Ireland, is the notion of a Sensory Sanctuary, which offers through sensory stimuli, a focus on emotional regulation and sensory integration.

This episode has much to offer teachers in all areas of the school system; the principles embrace children and young people in a creative and dynamic approach, which is well resourced, evidence based, and easily accessible.

Episode 22: Active Recovery (Part 1) – Sport and Sensory Sanctuaries as part of Active Recovery

This episode hosted by Professor Barry Carpenter CBE OBE FCCT introduces Vicci Wells who is the National Manager for the Youth Sport Trust, as well as an ex-teacher.

You can watch Vicci’s full presentation in the episode on YouTube (below):

YouTube player

Active Recovery Hub

A new Active Recovery Hub is launching to provide schools, local authorities, and families with easy access to free resources to get children moving before, during and after the school day , co-ordinated by the Youth Sport Trust and Sport England.

The hub has hundreds of free resources available on it to help all children of all ages and abilities achieve the Chief Medical Officer’s recommendation of an average of 60 active minutes a day.

Active Recovery and Youth Sport Trust

Supporting the launch, Professor Barry Carpenter CBE OBE FCCT, said: “The pandemic has had such a devastating impact on the social and emotional wellbeing of our children, causing high levels of mental distress. Active Recovery offers a positive and proactive route to recovery which builds physical fitness, stamina and social skills.”

The Active Recovery Hub is available by visiting:

Vicci’s Presentation and Guide to Sports Sanctuaries

Below is a copy of Vicci’s presentation used in the episode, as well as a downloadable guide to Sports Sanctuaries:

Active Recovery – EfL LearningShared Podcast Ep 22 Vicci Wells Youth Sport Trust (Presentation)

A Guide to Sports Sanctuaries (PDF)

About Vicci Wells and Youth Sport Trust

Vicci is the national lead at the Youth Sport Trust for targeted interventions, driving positive social action and addressing inequalities for young people. She recently authored the Think Piece ‘ Could ‘sport sanctuaries’ in schools help young people recover from the impact of a pandemic? and is working tirelessly to support schools on the importance of an ‘Active Recovery’ for pupils. On behalf of the organization she leads Inclusion 2020, which is the umbrella term for the Department for Education’s SEND Inclusion in PE, school sport and physical activity grant, and a national network of lead inclusion schools across England. Recent work has also included internationally driving the global Special Olympics Play Unified programme; promoting acceptance and friendships for young people with and without SEND through the power of sport in schools across the Home Countries. Vicci is also Chair of governors for a primary school in Worcestershire, a Trustee of a Multi Academy Trust for pupils aged 4-18, inclusive of a Teaching School, and authors the ‘ Youngish school governor’ blog.

The Youth Sport Trust is the UK’s leading charity improving every young person’s education and development through sport and play. In partnership with Physical Education, we build communities of educators equipped with the training and tools to lead engaging physical activity- giving young people a platform to strengthen their voice and self-belief. . We improve educational outcomes by ensuring that every young person has the opportunity to belong and achieve. work in partnership, empowering young people and equipping educators to become changemakers who lead the change they want to see in the world and know that together, we can reduce the impact of childhood inequalities and transform young lives.

About Barry Carpenter CBE OBE PhD FCCT

Barry Carpenter holds the UK’s first Professorship in Mental Health in Education, at Oxford Brookes University. He is Honorary Professor at universities in the Ireland, Germany and Australia. He has been a Fellow of the University of Oxford.

He has been awarded an OBE and CBE by the Queen for services to children with Special Needs. In 2017 he was entered into “Who’s Who” in acknowledgement of his national and international contribution to the field of Special Education.

In a career spanning more than 40 years, Barry has held the leadership positions of Headteacher, Principal, Academic Director, Chief Executive, Inspector of Schools and Director of the Centre for Special Education at Westminster College, Oxford. In 2009, he was appointed by the Secretary of State for Education as Director of the Children with Complex Learning Difficulties and Disabilities Research Project. In that role Barry led an important and valuable piece of research on the use of Engagement as a pedagogy. This work become the foundation for Department for Education’s new guidance for assessment (DfE, 2019). Since completing that research, Barry has overseen the development of a national project developing online ‘Training materials for teachers of children with severe, profound and complex learning disabilities” (

He is the author of over 150 articles and many texts on a range of learning disability/special needs topics. In the last 12 months, his work has been translated into German, French, Dutch and Russian. His most recent book publications (with Carolyn Blackburn and Jo Egerton) focus upon Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). Most recently he co-authored “Engaging Learners with Complex Needs” (Routledge).

Barry lectures nationally and internationally. In recent years this has included China, Japan, Abu Dhabi, USA, and Germany. In 2018 he will be giving lectures in Australia and New Zealand. He is the co-founder of the National Forum for Neuroscience in Special Education. For the Mental Health Foundation, he Chaired the National Inquiry into the Mental Health of Young People with Learning Disabilities. He is currently Chairing a working group looking at the needs of Girls on the Autism Spectrum, which is the focus of his latest book.

Barry has 3 children – one a School Principal, one a Senior Occupational Therapist and a daughter with Down’s Syndrome, who now has a home of her own, published her first book in 2017, and is on an Apprenticeship as a Teaching Assistant.

For more information:

Professor Barry Carpenter’s website:

Join the conversation:

Facebook: EfL SEND Community Group

Join us at:

or search for “eflSENDCommunity” in Facebook.

The purpose of the group is to provide a safe, closed space to seek out and share ideas, experience and resources that can help with any and all aspects of SEND provision. It’s also a community for practitioners and schools that use Evidence for Learning and Insights for Learning to share ideas, resources and support each other in using these apps. This is a peer-moderated and supported group.

Facebook Group: Recovery Curriculum

We’ve set up a private facebook group specifically for The Recovery Curriculum at:

or search for “recoverycurriculum” in Facebook.

Linkedin Group: The Recovery Curriculum

The group is called “A Recovery Curriculum for children & schools post-pandemic” and you can find it at: