STEER WAS SET UP 18 YEARS AGO BY TWO FOUNDERS TO TEACH CHILDREN TO STEER THE ROAD OF ADOLESCENCE
In 1999, Simon Walker, a Biology graduate from Oxford University, began researching how to train people to relate better. He used his science background, as well as further research study as a psychologist and theologian, to develop a set of tools to improve what he called ‘Human Ecology’.1999
Training leaders in business
Over the next nine years, Simon was commissioned by corporate organisations like Accenture, PWC, KPMG, Astra Zeneca, as well as government organisations, schools and charities to train their leadership by improving their Human Ecology. More than 1,000 leaders were trained across four continents, and Simon published his work in a series of books titled The Undefended Leader.2001
Fire-fighting crises in schools
In parallel, from 2002 Jo Walker was working as an advisor for the Oxfordshire Authority in the UK to support schools with social, emotional & behavioural difficulties. Jo became frustrated that schools had no tools to provide them with a whole-school overview of pupils with increased risks. They were engaged in constant firefighting but not strategic development.2002
In response, Jo pioneered a new whole-school approach, winning a County award, but which relied on teacher’s assessment of pupil needs rather than hearing the pupils’ own voice.2007
Collaboration and vision
By 2009, Simon was clear adult leaders were often too old to change their behaviours. Jo was clear that teachers needed better tools to help hidden children earlier. They decided to combine their work to build a new set of tools to transform proactive, evidence-based targeted pastoral care in schools.2009
Action learning in pioneer schools
Over the next three years, Simon and Jo worked with five pioneer schools, Monkton Combe in Bath and four of the Thomas’s London Day Schools, to develop AS Tracking. They used a process of ‘action learning’ developing, testing and revising iterations of the tool until it was robust and able to meet the demands of implementation within pressurised school environments.2011
At the same time, Simon ran a series of large quantitative studies involving more than 10,000 pupils, across 25 mixed type, age & demographic schools. He published his findings in a series of papers, identifying a specific function of the mind the tool measured, which contributed to children’s social, emotional and cognitive health.
Over the next three years, Simon and Jo both completed doctoral programmes to evidence and understand the data they were measuring through AS Tracking.
Jo's research articulated the mechanics required to implement systematic, proactive whole-school tracking of steering biases, to reduce mental health risks, through case study and action learning.2013
The mind: engine and steering
The mind: engine and steering Central to Simon’s findings was that the mind, like a car, had both an engine and steering.
The engine, measured roughly through IQ tests, assessed how fast and accurately the mind could process data.
The steering of the mind, controlled what data the mind paid attention and responded to in the first place. Simon identified that the two were statistically independent; the two did not predict the other. He found that the ability to steer contributed to children’s social-emotional competencies; their mental health risks and their ability to learn effectively across the curriculum.2014
Breakthrough assessment tool
Simon and Jo refined the new tools to measure pupils’ steering. This was a breakthrough for mental health assessment because, up to now, mental health tools measured the symptoms of consequences of the ‘emotional/behavioural crash’.
By measuring the steering biases children were developing, Simon and Jo were able to identify children at risk of crashing earlier, before they crashed, and provide targeted guidance and strategies for teachers to signpost those children back onto the road.
It was a proactive approach, based on not doing more pastoral care, but doing it more precisely and at the right time.2015
The launch of AS Tracking
Founded now on secure empirical data and a reliable method, AS Tracking was launched in 2015 as a pioneering pastoral care tool.
New features were quickly added, including an Online Training Programme for all teachers; an Action Planning tool to support pupils and Year Groups; a Data Analytics module to benchmark your school against national steering trends.2015
Over the next three years, the impact of AS Tracking on pastoral risks began to be evidenced. Schools supporting at risk pupils using the AS Tracking action plans showed almost twice the impact as the normal school pastoral support. About 80% of such pupils reduced their steering biases in the coming months.
Tracking the impact over the long-term was also possible for schools. Many now have 3 or four years of data showing the impact of their entire education system upon their school cohorts.
In addition, the impact on teachers’ pastoral skills grew rapidly. Many schools began to build regular staff CPD around the AS Tracking online training programme. This provided them with a consistency of pastoral skill & approach across their staff.2015
Between 2015 and 2018 the numbers of adopting schools began to rise quite rapidly from 10 schools to 100 schools. As of September 2018, 1,000 teachers will have been trained and 30,000 children will be being tracked & signposted using AS Tracking. The tool is now being adopted by pioneer schools in Australia, Europe and Asia.2017
The STEER team now includes clinicians, scientists, teachers and technology developers. We are committed to developing new tools in partnership with educational institutions. At present, we are incubating USTEER and CAS Tracking within schools and universities in the UK.2018
In 2019 STEER launched USTEER- our post-school app which will enable students to take ownership of their AS Tracking journey and continue developing the ability to steer well beyond school in the workplace.
The challenges facing young adults entering the world of work are getting harder. Equipping them with the ability to steer will help young people develop more productive, sustainable, employable behaviours.
The origins of STEER lie in transforming leadership in business, government and society. Our goal is to prepare the next generation of leaders for these roles, starting from the age of eight. We began this project 18 years ago and have now engineered the machinery which, we believe, will produce lasting human impacts, measured over decades not years.2019-
STEER was one of the only organisations in the UK to have pre-pandemic national mental health tracking data. We continued to track our students during lockdown and then, on their return to school. Our tech enabled teachers to understand and then mitigate the risks to some of the most vulnerable students in the UK during this unprecedented time when schools were shut.
STEER is now advising the UK government on the impacts of the pandemic on adolescent mental health from our data pool of more than 50,000 students.2020
The origins of STEER lie in transforming leadership in business, government and society. Our goal is to prepare the next generation of leaders for these roles, starting from the age of eight. The pandemic is only accelerated the need to transform education to provide students who are mentally resilient, socially agile and emotionally resourceful for the work place.
As we reach out 20th anniversary and have now engineered the machinery which, we believe, will produce lasting human impacts, measured over decades not years.2021-