Mindfulness in Education

There is increasing research highlighting the potential opportunities that mindfulness offers those involved in education ie teachers, students, staff, governors and parents. 

“Mindfulness is likely to have beneficial effects on the emotional wellbeing, mental health, ability to learn and the physical health of school students. Such interventions are relatively cheap to introduce, have an impact fairly quickly, can fit into a wide range of contexts and are enjoyable and civilising for pupils and staff.”

This is the conclusion reached in 2012 by Katherine Weare, emeritus professor at Exeter and Southampton universities who conducted an academic study  looking at the impact of mindfulness on children and young people.

A significant development in this arena is the interest taken by the UK government on the benefits of mindfulness for the nation as a whole, with education being one key aspect. The final report of the Mindfulness All-Party Parliamentary Group (MAPPG) was issued in October 2015 and recognised that mindfulness can play an essential role in the flourishing and wellbeing of a healthy nation. Click here to read the full Mindful Nation UK Report

In the foreword to this report Jon Kabat-Zinn commented: 

“Mindfulness has the capacity to address some of the larger challenges and opportunities to be found in the domains of health, education, the workplace, and the criminal justice system by tapping into interior resources we all possess but that are mostly undeveloped or underdeveloped in our education system and in our society more broadly, at least up to this point in time.”

Why Consider Mindfulness in Education?

The Mindful Nation UK report highlights three key areas where the research evidence for mindfulness has a bearing on education and students:

  1. Academic attainment and improving results
  2. Mental health of children – which is becoming of increasing concern
  3. The development of important non-academic skills and capabilities such as character-building and resilience

The benefits of mindfulness training for adults have been more extensively researched and for those in education may include:

  • increased resilience in the face of stress and difficulties
  • enhanced overall mental and emotional health and wellbeing
  • feeling happier, calmer and more fulfilled
  • improved relationships with others, including students and colleagues
  • working more effectively by bringing increased awareness into the classroom

Weaving Mindfulness into the Fabric of Education

Bringing mindfulness into education may foster all of these benefits and more and the possible impact on the wellbeing and flourishing of our nation is an exciting and worthwhile opportunity to explore. There is a balance to be found however, between the excitement of exploration and possibilities and the honouring of the richness of this transformational approach to our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.

An integrated and well thought out approach is needed and the consensus so far is that the success of a programme in a school depends to a considerable extent on the quality and experience of the teacher’s own mindfulness practice, and this can take several years of sustained personal commitment well beyond the formal training. Quality is also affected by how mindfulness is implemented and a whole school approach in which everyone in the school community including parents, governors and all the staff participate in the programme is considered more effective. This approach also ensures that mindfulness is well-integrated and enriches the ethos of the whole school.

Getting Started

What next?

Trained to teachAdditional mindfulness teacher training with the Mindfulness in Schools Project (MiSP) team has provided a tailored mindfulness offering  to staff and students in education. If you would like to explore how mindfulness can benefit your school or college then please get in touch. Tried and tested options include taster sessions and eight week mindfulness courses that can be offered to any combination of teachers, staff, parents and governors in all educational settings.

One-off Taster Session for Teachers and Staff

Taster SessionThis is an introduction to the basic principles of mindfulness and offers an opportunity to try out some simple practices. It also sets out the proven benefits of engaging with mindfulness, along with the proviso that commitment and patience are required.

This one-off taster session, usually lasting 1.5 hours, can be delivered at a time and place to optimise staff access.

Get in touch for more details

Eight Week Mindfulness Sessions

Following the taster session if there is a wish to explore mindfulness further, the eight session .b Foundations training or similar is offered. These sessions have been adapted specifically for teachers and staff who wish to learn the foundations of mindfulness. Since being devised by the Mindfulness in Schools Project in 2012, the .b Foundations curriculum has been trialled and developed and proven effective in schools across the UK and abroad.

The sessions are based on the core mindfulness principles found within the course book Mindfulness, Finding Peace in a Frantic World, by Professor Mark Williams and Danny Penman. It also comprises the dynamic pedagogy of the .b for schools curriculum.

These sessions are designed with staff in mind, and the particular challenges they may be familiar with working in educational settings. It offers an alternative to traditional Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) courses, with shorter sessions and home practice designed to be accessible for busy educational staff.