Engaging boys to make positive life choices

Boys conference resized image 1




Event Outline

As part of our ongoing conversation around ‘Supporting Boys’, this half-day training conference will offer a particular focus on how to support and guide boys to make positive life choices.

With an emphasis on sharing ideas, experiences and good practice, the event will explore the following key themes:

  • The importance of engaging boys in school and learning and the potential risks if we do not
  • Support and guidance boys may require as they develop into adulthood
  • The importance of role models, including peer role models
  • Working in partnership with parents and carers
  • Case studies from schools incorporating ‘Engaging Boys’ into their curriculum

At our ‘Supporting Boys’ conference in February, we explored a range of welfare issues from the particular perspective of boys. Across issues such as stress, negative body image, low self-esteem and eating disorders as well as the growing problems of sexting, misogynistic attitudes and behaviours, and the general sexualisation of young people, boys can often be regarded as part of the problem, a catalyst for these trends and not part of the culture of suffering too, with their own complex issues, pressures and challenges.

As a direct follow-on from these discussions, we are developing a series of half-day seminars aimed at offering those who work with boys the opportunity to share ideas, experiences and examples of how we can ensure boys are fully engaged and supported in these areas and, through such empowerment, are better able to make the right choices.

Supported by


Graham Goulden

Director, Cultivating Minds UK

Anne O’Donnell

Head Teacher, St Patrick’s R.C. Primary School (Denny)

David Devenney

Head of Programmes (Forces, Prisons and Faith), Fathers Network Scotland

Eleanor Coner

Partnership Development Officer, Connect (formerly known as Scottish Parent Teacher Council)

Emma Dempsey

Founder, Forth Coaching

Nick Thorpe

Head of Communications, Fathers Network Scotland

Phaidraig Tierney

Community Development Worker & Peer Mentor


09:00-09:30     Registration and arrival refreshments

Session One – Going beyond the stereotypes

09:30-09:40     Chair’s Welcome and Introduction
David Devenney, Head of Programmes (Forces, Prisons and Faith), Fathers Network Scotland

09:40-10:10     Celebrating Boys: engaging and nurturing the best in our boys

  • Understanding the vulnerability of boys
  • What boys’ tell us they need in order to thrive
  • From toxic masculinity to Hero’s Journey – practical strategies for helping boys flourish (with a focus on emotional literacy)

Interactive session led by Nick Thorpe, Head of Communications, Fathers Network Scotland & Emma Dempsey, Founder, Forth Coaching

10:10-11:10     Escaping the box

  • Where do boys and girls learn to be men and women
  • The media is the message and the messenger
  • Stereotypes need discussed but they are not who we are

Interactive session led by Graham Goulden, Director, Cultivating Minds UK

11:10-11:30     Tea and coffee break, opportunities for networking

Session Two – Approaches to help engage boys

11:30-11:50     The power of the role model and the benefits of a peer-to-peer programme to engage all to participate

  • The role of Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) in influencing positive behaviours in a school
  • The types of subjects covered within MVP
  • The role of MVPs in the school setting
  • The benefits of the MVP programme to mentors and fellow students

MVP Mentors from George Heriot’s school and Fettes College

11:50-12:10     Parental engagement – Encouraging involvement in children’s learning

  • The importance of parental engagement
  • How parents can make an impact
  • Resources to assist
  • Featuring a case study from St Patrick’s R.C. Primary School in Denny on their ‘Getting Dads Involved’ programme

Joint presentation by Eleanor Coner, Partnership Development Officer, Connect (formerly Scottish Parent Teacher Council) & Anne O’Donnell, Head Teacher, St Patrick’s R.C. Primary School (Denny)

12:10-12:30     Lived experience of Adverse Childhood Experience and my journey

  • ACEs journey and support
  • Community of support in making the right choices
  • Male role models

Phaidraig Tierney, Community Development Worker & Peer Mentor

12:30-12:55     Panel and audience discussion
Featuring all our speakers, this open and interactive forum will discuss what has been raised throughout the morning. What lessons can we take forward into our work or home life to ensure boys have the best environment and confidence to grow?

12:55-13:00     Chair’s Round-up and Closing Remarks


Hosted by

COSLA Conference Centre
Verity House

19 Haymarket Yards
EH12 5BH

t: 0131 474 9200