About Blueskies - Our Story
Blueskies is a partnership between Jennifer Casadei and Howard Martin. Jennifer and Howard have worked together in different contexts for over 9 years and are both passionate about making a difference to vulnerable children and their families. Their complementary professional experiences and expertise include school leadership, therapeutic approaches to support young people, leading and managing change and developing well being.
Jennifer and Howard have a deep understanding of the issues faced by schools and adoptive and foster parents, in relation to the social, emotional and mental health needs of the young people. Blueskies is a rapidly growing business that is making a difference to individual children though therapy, and impacting on practice within schools through training and consultancy.
BSc (Hons) Psychology,
MSc (Play Therapy)
Intensive Filial Therapist (Advanced)
Diploma in Therapeutic Life Story Work (Distinction)
Approved Adoption Support Provider
After achieving my Psychology degree (BSc Hons) I worked in a voluntary capacity playing, singing, dancing and learning with children in orphanages and slums in both Africa and India. It was this experience that gave me the belief that play therapy was a powerful way of helping children express their feelings and deal with their emotional problems. It also triggered my career in play therapy and the well being of children.
My first professional role was as a key worker in setting up a government funded Emotional Wellbeing Development schools project in Reading, Berkshire. The project was extremely successful and was founded on the relationships that developed between children, parents, teachers and professionals. Working alongside Educational Psychologists, I planned and delivered Emotional Literacy interventions to children and young people aged between 3 and 14 years in schools. My role also involved building capacity in schools through the training and support of school staff. I focused on inclusion and bullying (both passions of mine) as I knew a ‘sense of belonging’ is integral to a child’s mental health and wellbeing. I sat on the Anti Bullying Strategy Steering group that devised a new bullying policy for Reading schools.
During this time I also worked with a number of Looked After Children and decided I wanted to work more closely with this vulnerable group of young people. I relocated to Sandwell, an extremely deprived Borough in the West Midlands, and developed my expertise with Looked After Children within Education. I acted as an advocate for them and their needs, often in the absence of a parent. I found I was able to strike up a trusting relationship with these children but was unable to support them further without specialist knowledge that required further training. That's when I knew I wanted to train in a therapeutic field in order to help the child and their family gain the necessary insight and inner strength to overcome their adversity.
My determination to help the most vulnerable children resulted in achieving my Play Therapy Masters qualification (MSc) which for the last 5 years has enabled me to not only work as a Play Therapist but also lead a team of well being professionals in a very large, deprived primary school. Leading and working with a team of other therapists, Nurture staff, Family Support, the school's SENCO and Leadership team (plus a range of external agencies) facilitated a holistic approach to meeting a child’s needs. My role also included the training of all staff – an essential ingredient of a successful well being programme in schools.
In order to extend my work with the most vulnerable children and families I have successfully qualified as an 'Intensive Filial Therapist' at Advanced level. This has given me a greater insight into working with the parents and carers of the most vulnerable children – being able to support parents to help them make the changes for their child and family through play is very powerful. I have also achieved a Diploma (Distinction) in Therapeutic Life Story Work with Richard Rose at IATE. Blueskies is an approved adoption support provider and adding 'life story' work to our range of services is very exciting. Something I feel that is extra special.
My Qualifications: BSc (Hons) Psychology, MSc Play Therapy, Diploma in Life Story Work (Distinction -IATE), Intensive Filial Therapy (Advanced), Theraplay & MIM Level 1
Member Organisation: BAPT, PSA
I am married and the proud mother of two children and the owner of a very playful cavapoo dog. I live in the countryside and enjoy the benefits that it brings.
My interests include travel, a range of music, walking and spending time with my family. I love meeting people and helping them whenever I can.
My experience as a Headteacher of a large primary school in a deprived area of the West Midlands brought a wealth of opportunities and challenges, in addition to those driven by educational change and government initiatives. These included the challenge of taking two schools out of special measures, leading and amalgamating schools on different sites and managing a new build. I also enjoyed acting on a consultative basis to support other schools and individuals.
Under my leadership the school also become a Regional Training Centre for Apple in order to share its exemplary practice in using technology to support learning. Leading such rapid and demanding change would not have been possible without a great staff team !
Family, community and economic issues significantly affected daily lives of many pupils, and it became apparent that children were experiencing circumstances that were having a negative impact on behaviour, the ability to make relationships, and of course their ability to learn.
It was during this time that I became a huge advocate of investing in 'well-being’ provision. The school quickly gained an excellent reputation for its use of therapists, Nurture Group and extensive family support. This provision, together with empathy, and an emphasis on supportive relationships, helped families thrive and pupils overcome social-emotional barriers to learning. Jennifer at this time, was the school’s ‘Well-Being Lead’ and it attracted many visitors to see the excellent practice.
After 15 years of Headship I decided it was time to pursue other personal goals. It came as no surprise though, that I jumped at the chance to help create ‘Blueskies’ when the opportunity arose. Having previously worked with Jennifer, it was an easy decision to make. Our shared values and approaches are a strength of the Blueskies partnership.
My passions and interest besides Blueskies, are, photography (I have my own website), sport, travelling, apple technology and my family which includes two sons and two grand children.