Mindfulness in Schools

Posted on: 09/02/2024

There has been a lot in the news this week about the tragic murder of Brianna Ghey and the way in which her mother has responded. The BBC have reported that she has launched a local campaign in Warrington which has raised £50,000 to deliver Mindfulness training in schools, and is now backing a nationwide campaign which is calling upon the government to fund Mindfulness training for every school in England. You can read their report here and find out more about the Mindfulness in Schools Project here

While it is enormously sad that it has taken such a tragedy to bring this issue to the fore, I could not agree with Brianna's mother more. There is an urgent need for all children, and school staff, to be taught Mindfulness principles and techniques, and to use these regularly.

Those who know St. Helen's College well know that we have been teaching Mindfulness to the children for many, many years. More than this, we have embedded Mindfulness as a school principle and staff and children practise Mindfulness daily, using a toolkit of techniques to combat the inevitable strains of modern, busy lives. Children here take on the role of Mindfulness ambassadors and over the last few years have led meditation sessions in assemblies and written about the effects of Mindfulness upon them. 

24 02 09 Y4M cucmber pic1 croppedThis week, some of the Year 3 children have been talking about what being a part of a mindful school is like for them. They described how they have mindful moments in their classroom on Thursdays, when they lie down and put cucumber slices on their eyes. They also talked, unprompted, about liking how calm it is when they go into their classroom, about mindful moments in assemblies and about practising finger breathing to help them to stay calm and be in the present moment. One boy explained how our breath is always with us, and can be relied upon to calm us down if we can slow down and notice it. These ideas are clearly not unusual to St. Helen's College children, and it was obvious from the way they spoke that they do not see being mindful as something they have learnt, but as something they are. For children aged 7 and 8 to be able to articulate how and why Mindfulness is used in their day to day lives is wonderful and gives us all great hope for the future. I have no doubt that children throughout St. Helen's College feel the same, given that we have been embedding Mindfulness right from the start of a child's journey with us for so many years. This includes at Ducklings, our 2+ setting, where we use age-appropriate sessions such as teddy breathing to help our youngest children to experience and enjoy moments of calm self-awareness.

You might like also to read a piece that I wrote about Mindlessness v. Mindfulness from 2021 here.

There is no guarantee that Mindfulness training would have prevented Brianna Ghey's terrible murder. But there is certainly evidence that Mindfulness can help children and adults to push away negative thoughts and to embrace the positive, to ground themselves and to experience peace, self-awareness and acceptance. Mindfulness can help us all deal with impulses which may not be productive or good for ourselves or others, and give us time to examine and process our thoughts before acting upon them. I hope that Brianna's mother is successful in her efforts to bring Mindfulness training to all schools, and to all children, in the United Kingdom. Our love and thoughts go with her.

I wish you all a mindful, happy half term break.