Exploring SUMO with Paul McGee

In January 2019, Paul visited Lanesfield Primary School in Wolverhampton to answer questions about SUMO from young people and school staff. Listen to his answers in the video clips below!

  • For clips of Paul introducing each of the six SUMO principles go here


How has SUMO helped you in your life?

My life has been a rollercoaster. I’ve had some ups and I’ve had some downs.  Sometimes I would stay down and wouldn’t know how to get up. SUMO has helped me to not spend too long being down, and it’s helped me to get back up as well.

How can SUMO help children?

It gives children this fun language like ‘Remember The Beachball’ and ‘Hippo Time’ and it can help them to deal with growing up and going from children to teenagers and adults. It helps children for the whole of their lives.

Are we supposed to be happy all of the time?

Sometimes it is OK not to feel OK. To feel a bit bad, mad or sad. It’s OK but don’t spend too much time in Hippo Time, wallowing in the mud. Say, “I’ve had my Hippo Time but now I’m moving on”.

What is the SUMO4Schools Foundation?

There’s only one of me. There are thousands of schools but I can only be in one school at a time. So we set up the SUMO4Schools Foundation to mean that people can still be learning about SUMO even if they don’t see me. To help more children around the world enjoy life more and fulfil their own potential.

Can SUMO help parents too?

Parents are absolutely crucial to providing support through SUMO. Parents can realise that in this beachball, I’m seeing blue, white and green, but my child is seeing red, yellow and orange. They are telling their children they are wrong but maybe they have got a perspective they hadn’t thought about. So, let’s have a beachball conversation.

How can SUMO support wellbeing in school staff?

The word ‘inspire’ means ‘to breathe life into’ but people, politics, change, and uncertainty can suck the life out of you. Self-care isn’t selfish. It’s crucial to your success and your sanity.