Meeting DfE guidance for September: introducing mindfulness to support children’s wellbeing

For many teachers the summer holidays this year will not provide the mental and physical break from school life that they need. Earlier this month the DfE published its guidance for the full opening of schools in September, outlining how all state-funded schools should prepare for all pupils, in all year groups, to return to school full-time from the beginning of the autumn term.

The challenge this presents is huge. School leaders and staff are tasked with simultaneously balancing minimising the risks from coronavirus with providing a full educational experience for children and young people. And as part of this, the guidance recognises the importance of supporting pupils’ mental health and wellbeing at this time, stating:

“Schools should consider the provision of pastoral and extra-curricular activities to all pupils designed to:

  • support the rebuilding of friendships and social engagement
  • address and equip pupils to respond to issues linked to coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • support pupils with approaches to improving their physical and mental wellbeing”

It is reassuring that the DfE have included this, and it is little surprise that in this recent survey reviewing teachers’ views on school reopening plans from the Chartered College of Teaching teachers welcome this focus on mental health and would like to see student wellbeing higher on the agenda. But they, rightly, want to receive suitable training and support to be able to deliver this.

Teachers, along with other professionals, are well aware of the mounting mental health crisis ahead. The charity Young Minds’ recent survey investigated the mental health impact of the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic in which 80% of respondents agreed that the coronavirus pandemic had made their mental health worse. And in its second forecast of the mental health impacts on the pandemic, the Centre for Mental Health emphasises the impact on children and young people, calling for urgent, targeted investment in mental health support to proactively protect the mental health of children and young people.

Here at MiSP, we are well aware of the mental health and wellbeing benefits of teaching mindfulness in schools. The research evidence demonstrates a broad range of positive effects in terms of psychological, social and physical wellbeing and flourishing in children and young people. We know that schools that were already teaching our mindfulness curricula .b and Paws b to their children and young people before lockdown have already recognised the vital importance of wellbeing and will be well equipped to meet this DfE guidance.

But we also know that introducing mindfulness properly takes time and commitment, and is not a quick fix.

That is why we developed our one day course designed to provide a taster of mindfulness to schools including lessons that can immediately be taught to children and young people. Teach .breathe provides an entry-level introduction to mindfulness for teachers, including the science behind mindfulness and how it can support individuals in schools to enhance their wellbeing. It also includes training to deliver our four lesson curriculum for 9-14 year olds, .breathe which explores issues around:

  • The capacity of attention and how to work with a wandering mind
  • Why humans worry, and how to support ourselves when we do
  • Why sleep is important and what to do if we struggle to sleep well
  • The opportunities and challenges of relationships – how to work skilfully with friendships and other relationships, both in person and online.

These lessons are particularly well-suited to children and young people facing transition: from primary to secondary school, through puberty, and from lockdown back to school. They provide a great starting point for schools to meet elements of the DfE guidance confidently.

We welcome all classroom teachers and specialists to come and learn about mindfulness and how to give a taster of mindfulness to the children and young people you work with. The course fee is £195 but we also offer Supported Places and Early Career Teachers’ Support Fund. Upcoming dates are:

  • Tuesday 11th August 2020 – apply here
  • Thursday 24th September 2020 – apply here
  • Tuesday 20th October 2020 – apply here

School staff have worked tirelessly during this pandemic to support their communities. We offer our thanks and are here to support you in the days, weeks and months ahead.