In this episode we hear from Sharon Gray, OBE. Sharon has extensive experience in all sectors of education, but especially in the field of Social, Emotional and Mental Health, (SEMH), and with students who could be described as ‘on the margins’.

Sharon provides a presentation that shares the approach and some of the work that is being done to support the recovery process across a family of schools in and around Derbyshire, led by the Embark Federation.

Sharon and the team at Embark have developed a Recovery Curriculum model, “Rising Strong”, that enables students in all age phases, to reconnect and re- build emotional resilience. The strategy developed never loses its focus on relationships at the heart of everything. The development of a Museum of Hope and Recovery. captures children’s experience of lockdown and reminds us all that we are survivors. 

Rising Strong: Recovery to Resilience… a Trust wide approach and beyond

The video below contains the audio from LearningShared Episode 7 with visual slides from the presentation.

LearningShared Ep 7: Recovery Curriculum #7 Sharon Gray OBE Embark Federation/Wholehearted Learning

In this episode we hear from Sharon Gray, OBE. Sharon has extensive experience in all sectors of education, but especially in the field of Social, Emotional and Mental Health, (SEMH), and with students who could be described as ‘on the margins’.

Embark Federation Recovery Resources Shared

Matt Crawford (Trust Leader, Embark Federation) and Sarah Armitage (Chair of Trustees, Embark Federation) have very generously offered to share some of the recovery resources that have been developed by the teams at Embark Federation.

These are many of the resources that Sharon refers to in her presentation. You are invited to browse and download any of the resources here:

Link to Embark Federation Recovery Curriculum Resources

Embark Federation and Wholehearted Learning in the News

SchoolsWeek wrote about the project in an article (July 2020):

There are no shortcuts on the road to recovery (SchoolsWeek Article)

About Sharon Gray OBE

Sharon has been a Headteacher for 18 years. This includes 12 years headship leading special schools including residential units for children and young people experiencing severe social, emotional and mental health difficulties (SEMH) and 6 years as the Headteacher of a larger than average mainstream school with an enhanced provision for children excluded from other schools due to experiencing significant social emotional and mental health difficulties. Sharon has also led two nurture units and a provision for vulnerable 2 year olds. During this time Sharon became the Executive Head whilst supporting an additional school in need.

All three settings that Sharon led were judged as Outstanding by Ofsted. She has also been an Ofsted inspector for 9 years and is a BSO accredited inspector.

Sharon is currently an Education Consultant at Wholehearted Learning, a co-opted member of ‘engage in their future’ – representing special schools nationally for young people experiencing severe social, emotional and mental health difficulties. She is also a member of the Youth Justice board – with the strategic overview project lead; of education in custody and the development of our first secure school.

Sharon is a published author and describes her work and purpose as taking a systemic approach to help adults, teams, school, communities, local authorities to create environments that enrich the emotional well-being, creativity and learning of children and young people. The focus being to release a child’s innate desire to learn and for them to discover joy in their learning and so achieve the best outcomes possible.

Her philosophy is one of authentic inclusion and her aim is for everyone within the community that she works with to see themselves as a responsible and vital part of securing positive outcomes for all.

Sharon’s website:

You can find and follow Sharon on Twitter at:


Embark Federation

Embark Federation is an Education charitable trust that serves 3000 children and their families. Formed in January 2019, it now works with 9 schools, (soon to become 12) in four different areas across Derbyshire.

The shared vision for the trust is to “create schools that ‘stand out’ at the heart of their communities.” The trust has 4 core beliefs Family, Integrity, Teamwork and Success that are integral to everything they do.

Throughout the pandemic, Embark have linked up with the inspirational Sharon Gray OBE to work with our incredible staff and leaders on a Recovery and Reconnection Programme. The piece of work they have produced is brilliant and has received national acclaim. It was celebrated in every National and Local newspaper on the 2nd June and has been endorsed by leading professionals such as Professor Barry Carpenter, Anne Longfield……..

Embark Federation & Sharon Gray’s Recovery Approach in the news

Barry Carpenter’s website

More info on the Recovery Curriculum

For information on the Recovery Curriculum, including the original Think Piece entitled “A Recovery Curriculum: Loss and Life for our children and schools post pandemic”, lectures, resources, reference materials and details of the online communities of practice, visit:

Join the conversation about The Recovery Curriculum:

Clearly any form of Recovery Curriculum will need to be unique to each and every school, contextualised to the ethos, culture and values of that school, as well as its existing curriculum and crucially reflecting and addressing the needs and aspirations of its unique population of learners.

We have created private groups in LinkedIn and Facebook where colleagues and peers can discuss and share thoughts, ideas, experiences, resources and learning in relation to education and provision post pandemic. The groups are also an opportunity to connect people and help you to build a network that can support you on your own important journey over the coming months.

Facebook Group: Recovery Curriculum

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

or search for “recoverycurriculum” in Facebook.

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.

Linkedin Group: The Recovery Curriculum

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