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“It’s nice to be nice!” – Agents of hope in the new year

Landscape gardener Recce Fletcher and his team spent November and December 2021 carving creating Christmas trees out of wood panels and selling them to raise money to buy Christmas presents for children and disadvantaged families. People came to buy trees from across the UK and Reece raised over £10,000 which was spent in a toy store.

Reece’s message is very simply, “It’s nice to be nice.”

It is stories like this that we need to be using in assemblies as we move into the new year to fill our children with confidence in humanity and community cohesion. None of imagined a year ago that we would still be living with Covid and today as we re-open with daily drops in class numbers, more than ever we need an ethos that speaks to children and says, “It’s going to be ok.”

The aim of “Agents of hope” when I wrote the first newsletter back in May 2020, was to provide schools with a framework to inspire resilience and hope; teachers needed to be the ‘agents of hope’ for children who were seeing their world shrink. Children had to be taught about the good things happening out in the world and be shown that people are helping each other; we will get through this together.

Now we are on newsletter No41 and the stories keep coming; there is a lot of hope in the world; we just have to find the stories. In the current newsletter I reference a recent article by Dr Shane Lopez, who argues hope is a learnable skill that we have to teach.

Lopez defines hope as, “the belief that the future will be better than the present, coupled with the belief that you have the power to make it so.”

Of course this work lies alongside our continued work on No Outsiders; the two frameworks align with each other as children are taught to develop empathy skills and work together. We are all different and we all belong; we are accepting of each other and we are interested; we ask questions and learn from each other to break down potential barriers.

In each newsletter I recommend new picture books that I am using in my own to teach hope and resilience, and provide a lesson plan. A new book featured in the current newsletter is “The spots and dots” by Helen Baugh; it is a wonderful exploration in to fear of the unknown, overcome by a character’s bravery and determination. At the end of the story, “The world started to change before their eyes.”

We can learn much from ‘The spots and the dots’, not least the value in facing our fears and taking down barriers; community cohesion is the key.

To receive the free Excelsior MAT Agents of Hope newsletter, email Andrew Moffat on More information on No Outsiders at