.b research, findings and outcomes

A controlled trial of mindfulness training in schools: The importance of practice for an impact on well-being

  • Authors: Huppert, F. A., & Johnson, D. M.
  • Published: 2010


In a UK study led by Professor Felicia Huppert from the University of Cambridge in 2010, MiSP’s .b curriculum was evaluated with 155 teenage boys. The control trial measured mindfulness, resilience and psychological wellbeing.

The study showed no statistically significant differences between the mindfulness group and the control group, which was not surprising with such a brief input and with it being so early in the programme’s development. However, within the mindfulness group, there was a significant positive association between the amount of individual practice outside the classroom and improvement in psychological wellbeing and mindfulness. 

Most students enjoyed and benefited from the training, with 74% saying they wanted to continue in the future. 

What MiSP learned

  1. This very early research encouraged the MiSP team to continue developing the programme and add more sessions in the knowledge that most pupils enjoyed the teaching and found it beneficial.
  2. It was clear that continued practice was important, so the team looked at how to help young people practice outside of the classroom. The connection between the level of practice and wellbeing benefits has been seen across many studies.
  3. The encouraging results from this research helped to put MiSP on the map.

Effectiveness of the mindfulness in schools programme: Non-randomised controlled feasibility study

  • Authors: Kuyken, W., Weare, K., Ukoumunne, O. C., Vicary, R., Motton, N., Burnett, R., and Huppert, F.
  • Published: 2013


This influential UK study, with a team of top academics led by Professor William Kuyken of the University of Oxford, was published in one of the most respected medical journals. 522 young people aged 12-16 in 12 secondary schools either followed the .b curriculum or took part in the usual school curriculum as a control group. The study was groundbreaking in having a large number of participants, asking teachers as well as pupils about outcomes and enjoyment, and having a 3-month follow-up. 

In terms of outcomes, relative to the controls the young people who participated in the intervention reported fewer depressive symptoms straight after the intervention and at 3 months follow-up and lower stress and greater well-being at follow-up. These findings were statistically significant. The degree to which students in the intervention group practised the mindfulness skills was associated with better well-being and less stress at 3-month follow-up. 

The majority of the pupils reported enjoying the course and learning from it. Straight after the course finished, 97% of the pupils who received the teaching completed programme evaluations. 7 out of 10 reported that they enjoyed the course and learned from it and over half said they were likely to use the techniques again. Three months later 95% completed a second evaluation. Around 8 out of 10 had used the practices to varying levels. Around half had used mindfulness to help them get to sleep (‘Beditation’), walked a short distance, or eaten a mouthful of food mindfully, and 6 out of 10 had noticed where in the body they were feeling stress on at least one occasion.  

Two months after the course teachers were asked to rate their experience teaching the curriculum. They gauged that 8 out of 10 pupils were engaged and interested and that around 7 out of 10 ‘got’ what mindfulness is about. Around 8 out of 10 teachers said they felt confident teaching the course and enjoyed it

What MiSP learned

  1. As the research team said “the findings provide promising evidence of the (.b) programme’s acceptability and efficacy” when taught to normal classes of adolescents in school.  The team were encouraged by the impacts on mental health and wellbeing, including 3 months after the course, by how many pupils continued to do at least a few practices, and by how much the pupils enjoyed it. 
  2. Once again the association between the amount of practice outside the classroom and wellbeing is clear, as established across many studies.
  3. The positive results led to the selection of the .b curriculum for the MYRIAD project.

Mindfulness training with adolescents enhances metacognition and the inhibition of irrelevant stimuli: Evidence from event-related brain potentials 

  • Authors: Sanger, K. L.and Dorjee, D.
  • Published: 2016


This was a UK-based non-randomised controlled study of the impact of the .b curriculum on a group of 47 16-18 year olds, with 22 receiving the course and the rest being a wait-list control group who received it afterwards. This was the first investigation of the impacts of mindfulness-based training for adolescents in school which included the use of neuroscientific methodology. 

A computer-based task used electroencephalography to measure electrical activity in the brain when participants took part in a visual challenge. Their levels of accuracy in responding to a break in a visual pattern were measured, as an indicator of their levels of cognitive control and attention. The study also included more usual self-report measures of thoughts and feelings. 

The results of the electroencephalography test showed students in the control group had improved levels of cognitive control and attention following mindfulness training.

The self-report measures showed that students felt they were less reliant on worry, anxiety and superstition to motivate action and were more able to control mind wandering, negative thoughts and self-critical beliefs. 

Students reported that they had generally enjoyed the course, giving it an average of 65%, with 58% reported practising ‘often’ or ‘every day’ during the programme and 84% considering keeping up the practice in future. On average they attended 82% of the 8-week course.

What MiSP learned

  1. The .b curriculum can be effective and popular with older adolescents. 
  2. The curriculum can impact levels of cognition such as attention and cognitive control, as well as thoughts and feelings around mental health and wellbeing. 
  3. This widening of the scope of mindfulness impacts will be of great interest to all teachers and schools, not just those who are particularly concerned with mental health. It has the potential to make mindfulness more attractive to a wider range of schools where learning and cognition are the prominent focus and potentially puts mindfulness at the heart of learning.

Healthy learning mind – Effectiveness of a mindfulness program on mental health compared to a relaxation program and teaching as usual in schools: A cluster-randomised controlled trial

  • Authors: Volanen, S. M. et al 
  • Published: 2020


This was a large randomised control trial in Finnish schools in which 3,519 12-15 year olds from 56 schools were randomly allocated into two groups. One received the 9-week .b curriculum while the control group received a relaxation program. 

Self-report measures were taken before the programme, on completion of the programs at 9 weeks, and with follow-up at 26 weeks. 

Mindfulness showed impacts on resilience.  There were no consistent effects on socio-emotional functioning or depressive symptoms. The programme did however lower depression in girls and showed mental health benefits among boys who continued regular mindfulness practice at 6 months’ follow-up. 

What MiSP learned

  1. The results of this trial contained some positivity, and showed the usual impact of home practice, but overall were somewhat disappointing. 
  2. However, comparing mindfulness with relaxation was a tough and unusual test that the MiSP team would not have chosen. Both involve similarly embodied stilling, calming and focusing processes, and .b explicitly includes relaxation, for example in its ‘Bedition’ practice. In practice schools often teach mindfulness and relaxation together. 

Mindfulness Training in UK Secondary Schools: a Multiple Case Study Approach to Identification of Cornerstones of Implementation 

  • Authors: Wilde, S., Sonley, A., Crane, C. et al.
  • Published: 2019


This was a study of process rather than outcomes and involved qualitative rather than quantitative methods. 

The UK-based research examined the facilitators and barriers to the implementation of mindfulness training across 7 secondary schools that had taught the .b curriculum, using a qualitative case study design. Within schools, head teachers, members of school senior leadership teams and staff members involved in the implementation of .b were interviewed individually. In addition, focus groups were conducted with other school staff members to capture various views and perspectives. 

The results showed that schools varied in the level of implementation. Across the case studies several key themes emerged, which suggested four cornerstones to successful implementation of mindfulness in schools. These were: people, specifically the need for committed individuals to champion the approach within their schools, with the support of members of the senior leadership teams; resources, having sufficient time and financial resources required for training and delivery of mindfulness; journey, reflecting the fact that implementation takes time, and maybe a non-linear process with stops and starts; and finally perceptions, highlighting the importance of members of the school community sharing an understanding what mindfulness is and why it is being introduced in each school context. 

What MiSP learned

The study provided valuable insights into what helps effective implementation, including the importance of committed people, good levels of resources, taking time, and encouraging shared understanding. MiSP has taken this into account in developing their training for teachers and leaders. 

The effect of mindfulness training on resting-state networks in pre-adolescent children with sub-clinical anxiety-related attention impairments

  • Authors: Kennedy, M., Mohamed, A.Z., Schwenn, P. et al.
  • Published: 2022


This study was a before and after study in Australia which looked at the impact of the 10-week .b programme on 47 children aged 9-11 with anxiety and/or attention issues.

Three procedures were used:

  1. The nature of activity in the brain was determined by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanning.
  2. Anxiety levels were measured using a self-report measure.
  3. Attention was measured using a computerised test which included measuring sustained attention, inattentiveness, and impulsivity when pupils were faced with challenges. 

Participants were required to practice the mindfulness skills they learned at least 3-4 times per week at home. A parent hub explained to parents the type of skill to be practised.

  1. The MRI scan showed improvements in the areas of the brain associated with anxiety and impulsivity.
  2. The self-report scales showed a significant difference before and after for total anxiety score, separation anxiety score and obsessive-compulsive anxiety score. There was no significant difference in scores for generalized anxiety disorder, social phobia, panic, agoraphobia or physical injury fears.
  3. The computerised test showed a significant overall decrease in anxiety symptoms and improvement in attention scores following the intervention. 

What MiSP learned

  1. This study confirms that the .b programme can help improve the attention and anxiety levels of children with particular problems in these areas and with the active support of parents. 
  2. It adds an important new component from neurobiology, suggesting the changes in the brain that accompany these improvements. 


Discover more about the outcomes of mindfulness in education