‘It stops the scary stuff’: pupils thrive with mindfulness lessons

English Martyrs Catholic primary school in Litherland is a stone’s throw from one of Merseyside’s most notorious areas for gangs and gun crime, and most children at the school have been affected by the violence. The Observer reports.

It is an unlikely place, perhaps, to find a thriving mindfulness teaching programme. But English Martyrs is one of a growing number of schools in deprived parts of Britain that are embracing meditation techniques to help vulnerable children cope.

“Children internalise things, but what mindfulness has done is bring a number of quieter children to the surface – children who we’d never have known were going through such anxiety and stress at home. They haven’t wanted to speak to their mum and dad about it but it’s coming out in these sessions,”said headteacher Lewis Dinsdale.

Nationally, the Mindfulness in Schools Project said it had trained nearly 2,000 teachers this year, a jump of 40% on last year, and much of that growth came from schools with higher than average proportions of vulnerable children.

But for cash-strapped schools, it’s not cheap. Dinsdale said that he had to find £2,500 to train one member of staff. “As a head teacher you’re always looking at the bottom line, and that’s a lot of money,” he said.

Dinsdale has been so convinced by the positive effect that the school has now introduced mindfulness workshops for parents too. “Some mums and dads are at breaking point and they’re taking it out on the children. They don’t know who to turn to,” he said.

The Raise the Youth Foundation in Bolton, a non-profit independent school, teaches children who have been excluded from the education system. Many of them have suffered abuse, lived on the streets and been in and out of foster care. “We are their last hope,” said Jason Steele, the school’s founder.

He said that the school brought mindfulness into the curriculum two years ago, though at the time he was far from convinced that it would have any significant effect. “I thought they’d be playing up,” he said. “But what’s surprised me is that all of them have taken something from it, some more than others.”

Read the full article ‘It stops the scary stuff’: pupils thrive with mindfulness lessons

Have your pupils or children tried mindfulness at school? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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