Health and wellbeing at the heart of learning in Wales

The number of teachers that MiSP is training to teach our Paws b and .b curricula is growing at a higher rate in Wales than in the rest of the UK. Of 20,855 state primary schools in the UK, only 6% (1,261) are in Wales, and of 4,209 state secondary schools in the UK, only 5% (208) are in Wales. So we wondered why that might be…

Background

In the UK, education is a devolved matter. In Wales, the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) is responsible for education, training and children’s services, and reports to the Welsh Government. In 2014 the DfES commissioned a review of curriculum and assessment in Wales to address the variable quality of teaching and standards in education identified by Estyn (the Welsh equivalent to Ofsted). The report ‘Successful Futures’ was published in February 2015 recommending a radical overhaul of the Welsh national curriculum.

The new 2022 curriculum

This year, DfES has published a new curriculum designed to make learning more experience-based and support children and young people to be:

  • ambitious, capable learners, ready to learn throughout their lives
  • enterprising, creative contributors, ready to play a full part in life and work
  • ethical, informed citizens of Wales and the world
  • healthy, confident individuals, ready to lead fulfilling lives as valued members of society.

It includes six Areas of Learning and Experience:

  • Expressive arts.
  • Health and well-being.
  • Humanities (including RE which should remain compulsory to age 16).
  • Languages, literacy and communication (including Welsh, which should remain compulsory to age 16, and modern foreign languages).
  • Mathematics and numeracy.
  • Science and technology.

The curriculum will go live in 2022, and schools in Wales are now trying to plan how they will implement it and what it means for them.

Health and Wellbeing

For the first time, health and wellbeing is recognised in the national curriculum as a core area of learning. This area of learning aims to support learners to develop and maintain not only their physical health and well-being, but also their mental health and emotional well-being, as well as developing positive relationships in a range of contexts. To enable this, it will build learners’ capacity to make informed decisions about their health and well-being and also to engage critically with a range of social influences which may impact on their values and behaviours. It is no surprise that schools, educators and communities are recognising that teaching mindfulness to children and young people will meet these aims and strengthen their delivery of this area of learning.

MiSP in Wales

We are extremely fortunate to have a fantastic network of MiSP trainers and teachers (trained to teach .b and Paws b) in Wales already who advocate mindfulness in schools. We have recently worked with Carmarthenshire County Council to run group training courses for their teachers, and look forward to developing initiatives like this with other councils and consortia.

Given the impending changes in the national curriculum in Wales, we anticipate that more and more Welsh schools will gravitate towards our whole-school approach and increasingly realise the value of teaching mindfulness to their staff and children. Our curriculum .b has been translated into Welsh and the translation of Paws b will be available in the Autumn, meeting the needs also of Welsh-speaking schools. We will be aiming to publish guidance for schools in Wales on how MiSP curricula and training can support their implementation of the new curriculum.

We very much encourage teachers in Wales to begin their own mindfulness journeys, via .begin, and to come on training to teach our curricula – our next course in Wales is in Cardiff, Teach .b, taking place from 19th-22nd August 2019. You can book a place here.