There are significant changes ahead for schools in Wales. From September 2022, they will be delivering the new Curriculum for Wales which aspires to raise standards and attainment for all children and deliver an education system that is a “source of national pride and public confidence” (Kirsty Williams, Minister for Education). In this article, we take a look at the role that mindfulness can play to support the new curriculum and help schools to meet these aspirations.
The Curriculum for Wales 2022 defines its four purposes: to develop children and young people as:
- 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.
Key to all these developments is a commitment that assessment will be led by learning, rather than the current situation where learning is largely dictated by the assessment criteria. The central focus of assessment arrangements will be to ensure learners understand how they are performing and what they need to do next.
SO WHERE DOES MINDFULNESS FIT IN?
Well, potentially almost everywhere …
Mindfulness supports the delivery of change
Mindfulness brings values and attitudes that can support all stakeholders given that this aspirational new curriculum which will require both systemic and cultural change to successfully implement. Running a school, managing staff and delivering quality learning experiences and support for young people is not easy, even without a brand new curriculum to deliver. Mindfulness encourages curiosity and a ‘beginner’s mind’, which can provide a foundation for welcoming change and providing a new perspective to support school leadership as they undertake this endeavour. Mindfulness also encourages kindness and compassion, to others as well as to self, which can bring a different, and perhaps more effective, tone to the necessary communication and collaboration required to implement necessary change.
Mindfulness supports the creativity required to meet the demands of the new curriculum
Mindfulness can also provide mental space where ideas can germinate and develop. Implementing the Curriculum for Wales will require a significant amount of creativity, from interpretation of initial requirements to development of lessons to assessing learning and to continually develop and enhance the experience. School staff will benefit enormously from mindfulness training to learn how to access the mental space necessary for creativity to spark.
Mindfulness provides content for lessons
Our existing MiSP high quality curricula can provide spiralling lesson content to meet a large part of the Health and Wellbeing Area of Learning. MiSP’s Paws b and .b lessons and additional materials already cover many of the five What Matters Statements for Health and Well-being:
- Developing physical health and well-being has lifelong benefits.
- How we process and respond to our experiences affects our mental health and emotional well-being.
- Our decision-making impacts on the quality of our lives and the lives of others.
- How we engage with different social influences shapes who we are and our health and well-being.
- Healthy relationships are fundamental to our sense of belonging and well-being.
Simply by teaching our curricula, schools will go a long way to have met this Area of Learning.
Mindfulness supports the four purposes of the new curriculum
Mindfulness can feature in other Areas of Learning and be embedded throughout the school ethos to support the four purposes. Awareness of the present moment can absolutely help young people be ‘ambitious, capable learners, ready to learn throughout their lives’ and ‘enterprising, creative contributors, ready to play a full part in life and work’.
Mindfulness also contributes to the development of ‘ethical, informed citizens’ – there is a growing body of writing on the ethical dimension of mindfulness: now that I am aware of the present moment, what should I do? This has a significant part to play in themes such as the environment, justice and the economy and an impact not just on how learners see themselves as citizens, but, crucially, how they approach the choices and decisions they will need to make.
Finally, mindfulness can support the development of ‘healthy, confident individuals, ready to lead fulfilling lives as valued members of society’. At MiSP we teach young people about ‘taking in the good’ and how to cope with challenge. Mindfulness can not only help with sleep, relationships and anxiety about exams, but enable individuals to enjoy every moment and flourish.
We are developing detailed guidance for schools in Wales on how mindfulness supports the Curriculum for Wales 2022, but in the immediate term we encourage:
- All schools in Wales to investigate the benefits of mindfulness and how it can support their work. Come and visit our stand at the National Education Show in Cardiff on Friday 25th October 2019 or book a place on one of our regular online information webinars.
- All teachers and education professionals in Wales be given the opportunity to attend an eight-week adult mindfulness course. We offer .begin, our live, instructor-led course which runs every term. Find out more about .begin and apply for a place on an upcoming course.
- All children to be offered mindfulness as part of the new curriculum. Adults can train to teach our Paws b and .b curricula when they have completed an eight-week course. These curricula are available in Welsh language versions.
- Clusters and consortia to work together to develop and embed mindfulness as a whole-school, whole cluster, whole consortia approach. At MiSP we promote a sustainable mindfulness model and encourage schools to work together to support the development of mindfulness in their communities.