The Why...

GOVERNMENT SUPPORT

Education Secretary, Damian Hinds encouraged the DFE to publish a 'bucket list' of extracurricular goals to build pupils' resilience. These goals were introduced in 2019 as an Age Related Passport.

In his first speech as Education Secretary, Damian Hinds said that it was the role of schools to develop pupils' "character" and "workplace skills" and that there was "nothing soft" about these so-called "soft skills".

Mr Hinds followed up this in November 2018 in a key speech stating that the Government is due to publish a series of extracurricular goals for pupils to achieve every year to build their resilience.

Mr Hinds stated that:

“Everybody can remember somebody who left school with no GCSEs or O levels, but went on to do something spectacular.

“Qualifications are obviously not the only thing, and I tend to think the difference is everything you can’t write on a certificate – drive, tenacity, sticking with the task at hand. And being able to bounce back from the knocks that inevitably come to all of us.”

ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE

There is a significant body of evidence to suggest developing pupils character has a positive impact on academic achievement. One such study included worldwide research into evidenced based approaches that meet the PSHE requirement in the UK, this was commissioned by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. The national Health Minds project is being led by How to Thrive in partnership with the London School of Economics (LSE). The project is tracking 11,000 students from 33 secondary schools over four years. The research is aiming to evidence the link between students who feel good and function well, academic attainment in school and psychological strength in terms of resilience and good character. The results of this landmark project so far have been extremely positive, demonstrating a positive correlation between developing character and improved academic performance. The research, conducted by Populous and the University of Birmingham’s Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues, asked teachers about current character education provision within their schools, and the potential impact a greater focus on character might have. Adapted from previous Jubilee Centre research, the poll defined character education as school provision focused on developing ‘positive strengths such as honesty, confidence, and critical thinking’, and teaching students to ‘understand what is ethically important in difficult situations and how to choose the right course of action’. The study found an overwhelming link between character development and academic results.

WELL-BEING AND MENTAL HEALTH

Youngminds.org.uk outlined crucial findings regarding mental health and wellbeing of young people.

Mental health is a big issue for young people…

  • 1 in 10 children have a diagnosable mental health disorder – that’s roughly 3 children in every classroom (i)
  • 1 in 5 young adults have a diagnosable mental health disorder (ii)
  • Half of all mental health problems manifest by the age of 14, with 75% by age 24 (iii)
  • Almost 1 in 4 children and young people show some evidence of mental ill health (including anxiety and depression) (iv)
  • In 2015, suicide was the most common cause of death for both boys (17% of all deaths) and girls (11%) aged between 5 and 19 (v)
  • 1 in 12 young people self-harm at some point in their lives, though there is evidence that this could be a lot higher. Girls are more likely to self-harm than boys (vi)
  • In 2017, 198 girls between 13-18 committed suicide. This was a 50% increase from the previous year and approximately 1 girl in 12 secondary schools


It has a big impact in adulthood...

  • Women who had experienced one childhood adversity had a 66% increased risk of premature death, and those who had experienced two or more adversities had an 80% increased risk compared to their peers (vii)
  • 1 in 3 adult mental health conditions relate directly to adverse childhood experiences (viii)

Jessica Nash, Head of Special Schools Network and SEN explores ways in which schools can manage the wellbeing of its pupils. A key component of this research is the need for pupils to develop greater self awareness, greater self management and greater self worth through mindfulness. Jessica indicated that mindfulness is described by The Mental Health Foundation as ‘a way of paying attention to the present moment which helps us become more aware of our thoughts and feelings so that instead of being overwhelmed by them, we’re better able to manage them.’ It goes on to explain how practising mindfulness can give more insight into emotions, boost attention and concentration and improve relationships. This indicates that an effective ‘relationship with self’ is key to developing mindfulness. Through exposure to experiences both in class and beyond pupils can gain a greater understanding of how their thoughts affect their feelings and how self management through stronger self awareness helps pupils to seek help when needed to support their wellbeing.

References

i. Green H et al (2005) Mental health of children and young people in Great Britain, 2004. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan.ii. Green H et al (2005) Mental health of children and young people in Great Britain, 2004. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan.iii. Kessler RC et al. (2005). ‘Lifetime Prevalence and Age-of- Onset Distributions of DSM-IV Disorders in the National Co-morbidity Survey Replication’.iv. ONS (2016) Selected Children’s Well-being Measures by Country: 3 CentreForum (2016) Commission on Childv. Office for National Statisticsvi. Brooks, F. et al. (2015) HBSC England National Report 2014. University of Hertfordshire; Hatfield, UK.vii. Kelly‐Irving, M., Lepage, B., Dedieu, D., Bartley, M., Blane, D., Grosclaude, P., Lang, T., Delpierre, C. (2013) ‘Adverse childhood experiences and premature all‐cause mortality’ European Journal of Epidemiology 28(9): 721‐ 734.viii. Kessler, R. (2010) ‘Childhood adversities and adult psychopathology in the WHO World Mental Health Surveys’ British Journal of Psychiatry 197(5): 378–385.ix. Green H et al (2005) Mental health of children and young people in Great Britain, 2004. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan.x. Frith, E. (2016) CentreForum Commission on Children and Young People’s Mental Health: State of the Nationxi. Frith, E. (2016) CentreForum Commission on Children and Young People’s Mental Health: State of the Nationxii. https://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/ uploads/2016/02/Mental-Health-Taskforce-FYFV- final.pdfxiii. Frith, E. (2016) CentreForum Commission on Children and Young People’s Mental Health: State of the Nationxiv. https://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/ uploads/2016/02/Mental-Health-Taskforce-FYFV- final.pdf