Teaching Mindfully Conference 2020

On Saturday 20th June 2020 over 700 people came together for a day of discussion and practice around the theme of ‘Teaching mindfully’. Our expert speakers explored the challenges and rewards of teaching mindfulness to young people in primary schools and secondary schools.

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Richard Burnett

Richard is co-founder of Mindfulness in Schools Project and co-wrote .b, MiSP’s flagship mindfulness course designed to engage adolescents in the classroom.

Richard is a teacher at Tonbridge School, the first school in the UK to put mindfulness on the curriculum, an event covered broadly by the media in 2010. Since then he has taught mindfulness to well over a thousand adolescents – in classrooms, science labs, libraries, theatres, carparks and fields, and at virtually every time of day.

Richard’s TEDx talk helped define the landscape of mindfulness in education and he was an expert witness at the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Mindfulness. He has appeared regularly at conferences, on TV, on radio and in the national and local press to make the case for mindfulness in education.

Having spoken to hundreds of teachers across the educational landscape about the challenges of implementation in schools, Richard will share a sometimes provocative top 5 list of insights for anybody who teaches or wants to teach mindfulness in schools.

Katherine Weare

Katherine Weare is Emeritus Professor at the University of Southampton and Honorary Visiting Professor at University of Exeter. Katherine is known internationally for her work on mental health and wellbeing and social and emotional learning, most recently focusing on mindfulness and compassion based approaches in education. She has published widely, engaged in cutting edge research projects and reviews of the evidence base for the field, advised the UK government, EU and WHO, and developed practical strategies across most European countries.

Katherine’s talk at our 2020 Conference will explore the lived experience of teachers who have allowed mindfulness into their lives, their classrooms and schools and discovered its profound and transformative effects, including on the very essence of what matters to them, their role, and their relationships. She will suggest that this experience may help show us the way to build on the current, and very useful, model of mindfulness as ‘an evidence based intervention’ and a ‘helpful tool’ to develop its radical capacity to cultivate presence, wisdom, compassion and ethics and to place these qualities at the heart of everything we do, and are, both as teachers and as concerned members of a society in crisis.

Katherine was a lead player in the influential Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning (SEAL) programme in the UK, and in the European Network of Healthy Schools, helping cultivate holistic and empathic approaches in education which put social and emotional learning and wellbeing at the heart of the educational process, for students and staff. She has been an advisor to Mindfulness in Schools Project since its outset, and was a co-author on an influential research paper that helped pave the way for the major Myriad project. Her recent book, co-written with Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh Happy Teachers Change The World: A Guide to Cultivating Mindfulness in Education has been translated into five languages and is widely used in schools and universities across the world. She is has recently been appointed co-lead for Education Policy for the UK Mindfulness Initiative and is also Principle Investigator with Mind and Life Europe developing a new Community of Contemplative Education in Europe.

Adrian Bethune

Adrian is a part-time teacher at a primary school in Hertfordshire and delivers wellbeing-focused training in schools across Europe through his organisation www.teachappy.co.uk.

In 2012, Adrian was awarded a ‘Happy Hero’ medal by Lord Richard Layard at the House of Lords for his work on developing wellbeing in schools. In 2015, he was invited to speak at the Action For Happiness event, Creating A Happier World, on stage with the Dalai Lama.

Adrian is author of the award-winning, Wellbeing In The Primary Classroom – A Practical Guide To Teaching Happiness (Bloomsbury, 2018). He writes regularly for the TES and has contributed to several other books including Global Perspectives in Positive Education (John Catt, 2018), Children and Young People’s Mental Health Today (Pavilion, 2019), and Just Great Teaching (Bloomsbury, 2018).

At our 2020 conference, Adrian will address the question: ‘Could mindfulness be the key to changing the education system?’

Kevin Hawkins & Amy Burke

Kevin has worked with adolescents and young people in various contexts for over 30 years – as teacher, school head, and social worker in the UK, Africa, and Europe. He currently lives in Valencia, Spain and was previously in the Czech Republic where for 10 years he was Middle School Principal at the International School of Prague.

Kevin trained in mindfulness in Europe and the USA with Mark Williams (Oxford Mindfulness Centre), Jon Kabat-Zinn, Saki Santorelli and Florence Meleo-Meyer (UMass Medical School, Centre for Mindfulness), and with Dr. Amy Saltzman (Still Quiet Place) and he has taught mindfulness to students, teachers and parents since 2008. In 2012 Kevin co-founded MindWell, (mindwell-education.comwhich supports educational communities around the world in developing wellbeing through mindfulness and social-emotional learning.
Kevin is a Senior Trainer for Mindfulness in Schools Project and a facilitator of the evidence-based CARE program (Cultivating Awareness and Resilience in Educators). He has also worked as a coach/mentor to school leaders and was lead consultant to the International Baccalaureate Organisation on SEL and mindfulness in 2015. Kevin is a regular speaker, writer and presenter on the topics of wellbeing, leadership, mindfulness and social and emotional learning in education. Kevin’s first book, Mindful Teacher, Mindful School: Improving wellbeing in teaching and learning, was published by SAGE in July 2017. He is currently working on a second book, also for SAGE/Corwin with Amy Burke which will be published in early 2021.

Amy is an educational consultant who spent 15 years as a high school teacher and guidance counsellor in Canada and The Netherlands. She holds a Masters Degree in Contemplative Education from Naropa University and in 2012 she co-founded MindWell (mindwell-education.comwhose aim is to support educational communities in fostering wellbeing through mindfulness and social-emotional learning.

Amy is a lead teacher trainer for Mindfulness in Schools Project and has completed curriculum training with Gina Biegel (MBSR-T) and Dr. Amy Saltzman (Still Quiet Place). Amy is also a facilitator for the CARE program (Cultivating Awareness and Resilience in Educators) from the Garrison Institute and supports the Community of Contemplative Education through Mind & Life Europe. She is also a Mentor for Inward Bound Mindfulness Education (iBme, UK) teen retreats. Amy works internationally in schools and universities providing workshops and retreats for educators, students and parents with a focus on self-care and stress management.
At our Conference Kevin and Amy will explore how ‘Being Mindful’ naturally leads us to ‘Teaching Mindfully’ and how we can nurture this ability to bring mindful awareness into our lives and our work. Drawing on research from social neuroscience and its implications for educators, they will focus on three areas of:
1. Slowing down
2. Optimizing the learning environment
3. Impacting individual students

By reminding us of the power and value of teachers and teaching they will point to the deeper changes that mindful approaches to learning help foster in our schools: A shift in the focus of education that can help develop students who are more aware, more reflective and more able to take care of themselves, each other and the planet.

Clare Winter

Clare leads the KS3 centre and school reintegration at an outstanding pupil referral unit where she is the School Mindfulness Lead and SENDCo.

She began teaching in South Korea where she studied martial arts with its associated meditative aspects. She has worked in special education in the UK for over 14 years and is passionate about helping disenfranchised young people to flourish by building resilience and positive mental health. Clare also values the need to support staff and offer them strategies and tools to remain healthy. Over the last five years she has slowly built and embedded the mindfulness offer in her own provision and throughout local schools and parent support networks. Clare is trained to teach .b, .breathe and the .b Foundations curriculum.

Trevor Adams

Trevor works at Dacorum Education Support Centre, a secondary alternative provision for students with Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH), and a Pupil Referral Unit (PRU). Trevor is a qualified outreach teacher and specialist support worker, and provides intervention provision in mainstream schools for pupils at risk of permanent exclusion.

Trevor supports schools in promoting the positive behaviour of pupils. His aim is to reduce the need for permanent exclusions from mainstream schools and develop positive, honest relationships with our partner schools.

Trevor began noticing the increase in complex referrals, which were becoming increasingly mental health related, and decided to complete the MBCT training and widen his knowledge through MiSP’s Paws b, .b and .breathe programmes. He now delivers Paws b and .b regularly at the PRU and primary and secondary schools, in a bid to improve outcomes for young people with SEMH. He has also extended his knowledge and expertise to parents and teaching staff.

In 2020, Trevor completed his masters dissertation titled ‘What are the effects of practicing mindfulness on politicians and their approach to decision-making?’ As part of his thesis, he was able to interview the likes of Chris Ruane MP, Jamie Bristow, Chris Cullen, Adrian Bethune and meet with Lord Richard Layard.

Debbie Cass

Debbie works at a two form entry primary school with 420 pupils. About five years ago, she enrolled in the .b Foundation course and has since completed the Present training, Teach Paws b and the School Mindfulness Lead course. Debbie teaches Paws b to Key Stage 2 three afternoons a week and is now on the sixth cycle of this! She has taught  .b Foundations to both staff and parents.

Debbie was observed teaching the Paws b for three days as part of a mindfulness research project at Cardiff University. Her school has also been used as a case study for the First Minister.

Debbie is passionate about a whole school approach to mindfulness, and has trained teachers, Afterschool Club, lunchtime ladies, office staff, cleaners and the caretaker in basic mindfulness techniques! She has spoken about mindfulness at an EAS conference, taken inset days, whole school assemblies and introduced Mindful Moments after lunchtime in every classroom.

Debbie has also introduced mindfulness to the Brownies, anti-bullying group ‘The Invisible Army’, the NHS and Barnardo’s and led in obtaining the Carnegie School of Excellence in Mental Health award last year for her school.

Mary Spink

Mary is the Head of Drama in an independent prep school and has been developing wellbeing in schools in the UK since 2004. As a trainer for MiSP she teaches both the Paws b and the .b programmes, and continues to develop mindfulness in other areas of school life.

Mary is also a Director for Massage in Schools and was an advisory for the training of Story Massage. Mary has designed her own wellbeing programmecalled The Empowerment Programme,which looks at developing self-awareness in education through drama.

Matthew Jones

Matthew has been teaching at a primary school in Wales for 28 years. He trained to teach Paws b in 2016 after completing .b Foundations earlier the same year, and has taught the course to his class each year since. He runs a weekly ‘drop-in’ mindfulness club for children who have completed Paws b.

Matthew says that mindfulness sustains him as a teacher, it enables him to be more present in the classroom, and to enjoy improved relationships with the children that he teaches. He finds that he can be kinder to himself and others, less quick to judge and more able to respond rather than react. In particular, the Paws b course provides a shared vocabulary when things ‘go wrong’ (as they inevitably do).

Mel Thomas

Mel has been teaching mindfulness peripatetically for two years. Her background, however, is not in education but in marketing and advertising, and her business MindLessFull is split between corporate work and schools, where she teaches the MiSP curricula.

It was during Mel’s time as a school Governor,working on the Teaching and Learning committee, that she realised she wanted to focus her attention on the education and prioritisation of mental health. Mel will be talking about the perks and pitfalls of the peripatetic.

Oren Ergas

Oren is a senior lecturer at the Faculty of Education, Beit Berl College, Israel. His academic career focuses on curricular and pedagogical aspects of contemplative practices, such as yoga and mindfulness. He explores their effects on self, and the ways in which they can be understood within the framework of education and human development.

Oren’s work is interdisciplinary and draws on Philosophy East and West, on the psychology and neuroscience of mindfulness as well as on his personal practice and experience of implementing mindfulness in the teacher education courses he teaches. He applies a variety of methods including qualitative research, and philosophical analysis and collaborates often with neuroscientists and psychologists.

Since 2019, Oren has been serving as a co-chair in UNESCO’s International Science and Evidence Based Education Assessment (ISEEA) – an on-going project that will propose an evidence-based orientation for education in flourishing that will be offered to ministries of education of UNESCO’s member countries.

Oren’s work has been published in various prestigious journals including Teaching and Teacher Education, Mind, Brain & Education, Journal of Philosophy of Education, Journal of Curriculum Studies, Critical Studies in Education and Mindfulness. His book Reconstructing ‘Education’ through Mindful Attention was published in 2017. Many of his publications can be accessed in their pre-published version here.

Gerry Diamond

Gerry is based at a non-denominational high school in an area of high deprivation, with around 1,200 pupils. Working within the Pupil and Family Support Department, Gerry has helped pioneer their very successful nurturing programme.

Gerry works with groups of high risk vulnerable pupils. He is also a resilience trained facilitator, using a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Program (CBT) to help build resilience in pupils, as well as their families. Over the past two years, he has also been teaching the .b programme to both vulnerable pupils and pupils preparing for school exams.

Liz Lord

Liz is the schools liaison lead for the MYRIAD project, the world’s largest project looking at mindfulness in schools, in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Oxford and a Teaching Partner for the Oxford Mindfulness Centre.

Liz has an MSc in Mindfulness based approaches and 20 years’ experience as a school teacher, both primary and secondary, and was formerly Assistant Headteacher at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital school. She is passionate to communicate effectively to the Education community, the latest scientific research in ‘mindfulness for schools’ particularly in the area of effective teaching and implementation. Giving school leaders, staff, children and young people the opportunity to learn and practise skills and an approach which helps them to flourish, explore possibilities, foster interdependence and recognise unique qualities in themselves and others.

At the conference Liz will give an overview of the MYRIAD project. Funded for £6.4m by The Wellcome Trust and led by leaders in the field of mindfulness and neuroscience. She will go on to describe the way that effective teaching and implementation can make all the difference when bringing mindfulness into the classroom and school setting.

Pete Turner

Pete has been a professional clown for over thirty years. In 1989 he founded the Leeds Children’s Circus, an educational charity for families in the Harehills and Chapeltown community of Leeds, which is still going today. He has been developing the idea of ‘Mindful Clowning’ for a few years now combining this with teaching mindfulness in schools.

At the conference, Pete will be speaking about the relationship between artistic performance and mindfulness, exploring how being a mindful clown has enabled him to teach mindfulness to children.

Liz Williams

Liz has a long career in education starting as a primary teacher and headteacher and ending as Head of Children and Young People’s Strategy in the Welsh Government.

Liz has been co-leading the development of a mindfulness toolkit to help schools in Wales strategically plan the introduction of mindfulness in response to the new curriculum in Wales, and has just been appointed Chair of the newly inaugurated Meddwlgarwch Cymru/Mindfulness Wales organisation. Liz is also part of a team developing and delivering Mindfulness for Education Leaders in partnership with the National Academy for Education Leadership Wales’ Innovation Programme, and is a MiSP trainer and teacher.

At our conference, Liz will outline how mindfulness and ‘teaching mindfully’ can respond to the requirements of the new Welsh curriculum.


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