Welcome to MiSP’s series of 20 Top Tips for 2020. We have gathered together the 20 questions we are asked most often and, using a decade’s worth of experience in delivering mindfulness in schools, plus the experiences of our mindfulness community of more than 5,000 trained teachers, we provide the answers!
#4: Where can I teach Paws b or .b outside of school?
We are often asked if our curricula can be taught outside of a school setting. Our first priority is the health and wellbeing of the children and young people our curricula is taught to …
MiSP trained teachers will already know that it is part of our terms and conditions that our curricula must not be taught as public courses (freely advertised for any interested party to attend). It is essential to have background knowledge of the pupils as well as formal procedures to identify issues arising so that children and young people are properly safeguarded. Schools or educational organisations provide the necessary framework of policies and procedures to safeguard children in a way which a public course would not.
When considering alternative settings to teach our curricula, it is important to keep in mind that they comprise a classroom-based exploration of mindfulness techniques at a very light level, including PowerPoint shows, film clips and work sheets, most frequently taught in schools as part of a PSHE curriculum. We are therefore very clear that our courses are not intended as any kind of therapeutic intervention, but rather as an opportunity to establish a set of skills upon which they can draw when things get tricky, but also in order to support them in the ‘good stuff’, be it just bringing experience of daily life alive, reconnecting with the body, and enhancing performance in areas such as playing sport or music. Our curricula are not designed as an intervention for a particular group of children, but rather as a whole class experience.
Also, things can arise in classes where a well-trained mindfulness teacher will need to hold a student’s response skilfully. For example, to know how to respond to a student saying ‘I feel sad when I do this practice’ or ‘it brings up unhappy memories for me.’ Worst case scenario, they may disclose very personal information or something that gives you concerns about their wellbeing. We require MiSP-trained teachers to be aware of, and sensitive to, the mental states of people in their classes, and to not teach our courses to pupils or school staff who are suffering from acute mental health conditions, or who have experienced recent severe trauma. This is where clear safeguarding policies and procedures need to be in place, so that you have clear guidelines about when and how this should be handled and, if necessary, escalated.
As a minimum, we require that an organisation delivering MiSP mindfulness curricula to children have: a designated safeguarding lead who has been suitable trained, approved and publicly available safeguarding procedures and processes, including methods for understanding whether any significant medical or life events are underway for the young people which might cause trauma or stress. For example, schools, youth organisations such as the Scouting movement, sports clubs or youth clubs should all have these measures in place.
We would expect the following to be regularly updated and stored safely within the organisation:
- Registration details (name, address) of children present including next of kin/emergency contact details
- Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) or equivalent checking as standard for adults working within that organisation
- Other adults who know the children on site
- A venue that is not a private home
Our curricula have been taught in a variety of youth-based settings, including schools, sports clubs, children’s centres, extra-curricular clubs (organised and run by schools where a teacher will be present), hospital schools etc. What united them all is a clear set of guidelines and training for staff on how to ensure the safeguarding of the young people involved.