May is Mental Health Month

Good Morning!

Mental Health has recently, and rightly so, been the topic of hot discussion and debate. People are starting to research, understand and evaluate mental health, albeit with difficulty, to try and really help sufferers.

May is Mental Health Awareness month and we want to help shine a light on something that has been kept in the dark for a very long time.

Steven Walker, in the book ‘Modern Mental Health‘, has put together a series of mental illness accounts in order to offer an alternative and thought-provoking perspective. In aid of this month’s efforts here is an extract from Hannah Walker’s story- the full account is available here.


Part One – The Human in the System

Chapter 1: A Survivor’s Story

By Hannah Walker


My name is Hannah and I’m a survivor of the military mental health system, the NHS mental health system and a number of psychiatrists.  I suffer from bipolar disorder and PTSD, and I was diagnosed twenty years ago.  In this chapter, I will tell you some of my story.

I was adopted at 4 months into a loving upper middle class family who lived on the Isle of Wight.  I have a sister, also adopted, who is six years younger than I am.  Neither of us has ever wanted to trace our biological parents, because we were happy at home and didn’t feel the need to go meddling.  Both our adoptive parents are now dead, but they would have been quite happy had we wanted to seek our real mothers, but we thought not.  No point.

I went to the local grammar school, and left at the age of 18 having been Head Girl and having collected a few O and A levels – nothing spectacular.  When I was in the Upper Sixth, my best friend died; I later discovered that she had committed suicide.  I had the first of what were to be many, many episodes of mania and depression after that event and had some time off school.  The episode was curious – I didn’t know what was happening to me and didn’t really have the words to explain it to the GP.  All I could tell him was that all the colours went bright outside, and I felt a rush of panic and fear as though I could no longer remain alive and deal with it.  In that instant, I contemplated taking an overdose of painkillers – not so that I would die, but so that I could become unconscious and not have to feel the pain.  I couldn’t be alone, but I couldn’t tell anyone what I was feeling as it was impossible to describe.  The only time I felt “well” was when I was driving a car.  I slept with the light on as I couldn’t bear to be alone in the dark with just my thoughts for company.

My parents hadn’t any idea of what to do with me, so they sent me to my GP, and I tried to explain what had happened to me, without much success.  He diagnosed an extreme grief reaction, without much in the way of a clue as to my illness.  I became even more depressed and started self harming, making up the most outrageous stories as to how I had cut myself.  I spent hours with razor blades, slashing my arms to pieces, and telling the A&E department that I had fallen through windows/dropped a glass which had shattered/been hit by a hockey ball.  No one helped.  No one asked me if I was OK – not even the medics who assiduously stitched me up every time.  I was sent to an Educational Psychologist, but refused to talk to her as she had hinted to me that she thought I was self harming.  Far too ashamed to admit it, I reiterated my stories and told her that I was just very accident prone.  She gave up.

I pulled myself together and carried on as though nothing had happened, which sowed the seeds of later episodes

Please read the rest of the account here for FREE.

If you have a story you’d like to share then please do get in contact. You can reach me at

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Behavioural Management- free extract

Sunny mornings are the best. They put everyone in a happy mood, suddenly everything is so much more positive.

And to add to such a lovely morning I have a free extract from ‘Supporting Primary Teaching and Learning‘. Fiona Hall yesterday wrote an entry on our blog about how vital a text this is to an aspiring teachers and today we thought “why not show you a snippet of what she’s talking about!?”.

So please enjoy this extract from Chapter 3 on Behaviour Management.

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Individual Needs

Children’s behaviour will be impacted upon by their individual needs. A significant writer in this area is Maslow (1908 – 1970) who suggested that we have a range of needs that exist in a hierarchy starting with the most basic of needs, linked to our survival, at the bottom. Maslow indicated that the needs of one level needed to be met before it was possible to move to the next level. This is shown in figure 3.1.

SPTL photo


Consider how each levels of Maslow’s hierarchy can be applied to your setting.

If you have any questions you can reach me at – as always we’d love to hear from you.

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How To Support Learning

Good morning all,

Fiona Hall, author of our book ‘Supporting Primary Teaching and Learning‘ has prepared this entry to aid both teaching assistants and student teachers. This book is ideal for those of you looking to gain an invaluable insight into what pursuing a career in education really entails and how best to support learning.

Have a read and let me know your thoughts if you’ve got your own copy at home!

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Supporting Primary Teaching and Learning is an invaluable guide for school Teaching Assistants or as an ideal starting point for undergraduates interested in a career in education. Aimed at the primary sector, this book gives you the low-down on the essentials you need to gain and develop a career in education with the focus on supporting children’s learning. As well as guiding teaching assistants, it provides valuable insight for those aspiring to become teachers.

The book has been written by expert educators Fiona Hall, Duncan Hindmarch, Doug Hoy and Lynn Machin. Fiona, who worked in primary education and teacher training for many years advises, “This book offers some great advice to Teaching Assistants starting on their Higher Education journey and gives supporting literature for their practice in schools”.  Duncan, who heads up the Foundation degree in Education at Staffordshire University explains: We wanted to create a book that would be really useful for Teaching Assistants or students planning careers in the primary education sector. The chapters have been developed to include relevant contemporary subjects.” The book has been organised into key topics which provide you with the information needed to help you be a successful teaching Assistant. Lynn adds, As well as taking a theoretical standpoint, it also has useful practical advice too.”

Lead author Fiona explains: “We’ve kept it relatively short and focuses on some of the priorities with recommendations for further reading when appropriate.”

So, we think this book will be an ideal starting point for Teaching Assistants employed in the sector as well as appealing to undergraduate education students.

If you have any questions you can reach me at – as always we’d love to hear from you.

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Are you excited for the London Book Fair?

Ladies and Gentlemen- it has arrived!

LBF logo

The London Book Fair– the biggest, the baddest and the most anticipated book fair of the year!

Julia Morris, co-director of Critical Publishing, would like to share what she is most looking forward to at the book fair this year.

Not long now! Just one sleep until the London Book Fair starts. It’s an exciting prospect.

The scale of it all certainly has the capacity to daunt. Critical Publishing, with a staff of 3, is clearly a tiny fish – if not a speck of plankton – in a very big sea. But equally it’s the number and quality of exhibitors that really makes you feel part of what is a thriving, innovative and creative industry.

It really is a chance to drink in everything around you, from some of the hugely impressive stands of the big publishers to the more modest tables (scattered with equally impressive products) of smaller companies. It’s a great place to get ideas, see what your competitors are doing and get your head round some of the latest tech.

There is a glamorous side to the event, with the chance that you might just brush shoulders with a great author or an up-and-coming celebrity who has just released their autobiography. But for me the event is characterised by the more down to earth necessity of meetings, catch-ups and networking. Back to back appointments see me rushing from one end of the great hall to the other, desperately searching for that elusive stand number and the even more elusive place to sit down.  I look anything but glamorous by the end of the first day!

However at that point there is always the IPG party to revive the spirits and a refreshing glass of wine to enjoy with friends and colleagues.

If you’re at the book fair then come and say hi to us.

Any other questions please direct to – as always we’d love to hear from you.

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Our welfare system- is it enough?

Good Monday morning to you all.

Rebecca Joy Novell, one of our most acclaimed writers and author of the hugely popular book ‘Starting Social Work‘, has put together this insightful passage inspired by her own experiences as a social worker.

Do you think the welfare system as it is is enough? If not what can we do to improve it? 

See what Rebecca has to say below.

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The Reality of Social Work in the Age of Austerity


I’ve worked as a Social Worker for four years now; and have worked with young people in the criminal justice system for eight years. Over those four years, I have always found being a Social Worker stressful and emotionally demanding beyond comprehension. I have always had disappointments with the fact that our Government and our society does not do nearly enough to support the most vulnerable people.


In 2014, I stepped out of Social Work for a year and went in to Policy work to see if I could make some of the changes I believed to be necessary. I found that I missed the day-to-day practical support of frontline voluntary sector Social Work and so soon returned back to the coal-face. 


Since returning in September 2015, I can honestly say that the state of our Welfare system and social and health care provision has transformed beyond recognition, in that short time. Our country is on its knees and I witness, on a daily basis, the poor and vulnerable being told, there is no more help for them.


In case you think I’m being dramatic or trying to score political points, I want to share just one of the many stories of people I am currently working with.


Bella is a young woman, aged 22, who has grown up on the same deprived estate her whole life. Crime, anti-social behaviour, drug use, domestic violence and long-term unemployment are the norm in this white, working-class community. Bella began taking drugs before the age of 10 and was raised by an Uncle who taught her how to burgle houses at the age of 5. By the age of 17, Bella was a Mother, by 19 she was a heroin addict and by age 21 she was in prison.


On release from prison, Bella decided she didn’t want to spend the rest of her life like her siblings, going in and out of jail – so she sought support from her local community centre, which she began attending every day. The community centre I manage. In addition to asking for help, with her own amazing strength and resilience, Bella detoxed completely from heroin within two months. 


Bella’s main issue, like many people leaving prison, was having no home to go to. Fortunately, she had some friends who would allow her to sofa surf for weeks at a time, but she was left with no stable place to call home. We supported Bella to apply for housing through the Council. However, she was denied any form of housing whatsoever and was informed that she could “cope well on the streets” and therefore did not meet the threshold for Council support. 


Of course, in addition to this, Bella faced enormous barriers to employment due to her criminal record and was repeatedly rejected from jobs, meaning she had no income other than benefits. 


Somewhat predictably, Bella suffers from acute mental health problems and recognized that she needed to address this in order to stop her offending behaviour. However, after supporting her to put a referral in, we received a voicemail from the local Mental Health Service saying, that due to cuts, there are no longer any counselling services available, as all staff have been asked to work in the acute ward. Therefore, Bella did not – and has not since – received any support with her mental health.


Four months after her release from prison, Bella gave up. With no home, no job and no mental health support, Bella began using heroin again and begged her probation worker to send her back to prison. When her probation worker said no, Bella stole £17 from a purse and was sent to Court, where she begged the judge to send her back. And despite it not being a custodial offence, the judge agreed, stating that there was more support for Bella in prison than there was in the community. 


As I write, Bella is currently sitting in a prison cell; where she has a stable place to sleep, no financial worries and weekly mental health and drug rehabilitation support.


And the real tragedy is that Bella is one of many who will have a better quality of life in prison than they will in society. Our welfare net is so broken that it is the criminal justice system that is now picking up the most vulnerable and disadvantaged. This is not what the criminal justice system is for.


As a Social Worker, I get up every morning with the sole motivation of working with people to give them the happiest and healthiest lives possible. The day Bella was sent to prison (effectively for being homeless) I cried myself to sleep. Partly because I had seen how hard she had worked to make a success of her life on the outside; and partly because, unless something drastic changes in terms of the resourcing of support services, Bella, and many others I work with, are truly better off in prison. For many Social Workers in the voluntary and charity sector, we have been stripped of so much that the only resource we have left is ourselves, and unfortunately, it isn’t enough.


What do you think? Email with your thoughts.

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The Last Science Extract

The end of National Science week is finally here and therefore so is the last extract from our new book ‘Key Concepts in Primary Science‘.

Here is a outline of each chapter for you to enjoy- and don’t miss out on the 15% off deal on our website!


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For a sample of our new book click here or visit our website.

If you have any queries then please do not hesitate to contact us by emailing:

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Free Science Extract 3: Introducing the Concept Map

It’s nearly the end of the week so sadly this means it is also nearly the end of National Science Week.


For those of you that are unaware, this week we’ve been showcasing extracts from our new science book ‘Key Concepts in Primary Science‘.

In this extract we’d like to introduce you to the concept map. Every chapter or “key concept” is introduced first by highlighting the standards laid out in the national curriculum (see yesterday’s blog post here) THEN with a concept map.

Enjoy this concept map of ‘Materials and their properties’.

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For a sample of our new book click here or visit our website.

If you have any queries then please do not hesitate to contact us by emailing:

Keep up to date on all offers by subscribing to our newsletters, following us on Twitter, Facebook and on Instagram.