About Us


The National Association of EBD Schools (NAES) was formed in 1999 to enable Head Teachers within the BESD (Behavioural, Emotional and Social Difficulties) sector (or SEMH – Social, Emotional and Mental Health – as it is now known) to join together to influence BESD issues locally, regionally and nationally. The principle aims and objectives that underpin the organisation are to express a collective SEMH voice, to provide peer support, and to promote the sharing of good practice at all levels within the SEMH sector.

Since its inception, the organisation has seen many changes, not least a change in name to engage in their future! Its development has, in part, been as a result of changes within this sector, but also because of the commitment of members. The benefits of membership have been enhanced as the National Committee has extended the scope and audience of its focus.

The structure and official processes of engage in their future are underpinned by key documentation including its Constitution. The eight regions are each represented on the National Committee by a Regional Representative (some of whom also hold an Officer of the Committee position), and they sit alongside five co-opted members, the Chair, Secretary and Treasurer.

Key events in the history of engage in their future include -

  • Original roots developed from the South West Region ‘Special Schools’ conferences.
  • At the 1990 Conference the EBD (Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties) Head Teachers formed the South West Region EBD group, which thrived throughout the 1990s.
  • By 1998 the success of the South West group persuaded members that a National Association was the next logical step to take. EBD Head Teachers from across the region were invited to a South West regional event and the nucleus of the National Association emerged in December 1998.
  • The National Association of EBD Schools (NAES) was formed in 1998, with the first meeting held on 8th January 1999.
  • The first National Conference was held in 2001 in Newport Pagnell. Now an annual event, typically held at the beginning of July, the National Conference ‘travels’ around the country to reflect the national profile of the organisation.
  • In 2004 the Government added ‘Social’ to the EBD description in order to cover the whole spectrum of issues. EBD (Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties) became BESD (Behavioural, Emotional and Social Difficulties).
  • In 2005 NAES became a registered charity (No. 1110473).
  • Between 2008 and 2009, a CEO was appointed to help lead, direct and grow the Association.
  • In 2009/2010, the organisation was re-branded and the name changed from NAES to engage in their future.
  • 2010 saw the first national engage in their future football 5-a-side competition.
  • In 2011 the inaugural engage in their future National Awards for students from thenetwork of  member schools was held.
  • In the same year, the ‘extreme classroom’ concept was launched with the first expedition taking a team of students and staff to the ‘Coldest Classroom on Earth’. In 2012, a team travelled to Tanzania to walk the Great Rift Valley as part of the ‘Hottest Classroom on Earth’, and in 2013 to Mount Everest Base Camp for the “Highest Classroom on Earth”. The ‘Fastest Classroom on Earth’, which took place in 2014, was the largest adventure to date as a group of staff and students, supported by a team of non-cycling students, cycled the Tour of Mont Blanc. A smaller scale UK-based event for KS2/3 students ran alongside it.
  • In 2013 the National Poetry Awards was launched to tap into the creativity of the students and staff at schools from across the network. Following a successful regional event, this developed into the National Creative Awards two years later. In 2016, the scheme was enhanced by the introduction of the short-story writing category.
  • In 2015 engage in their future offered KS2 and 3 students the chance to participate in ‘The Darkest Classroom’.