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Sir Anthony Seldon, whose school Wellington College was the first in Britain to introduce timetabled ‘happiness lessons’, says that governments must realise that a focus on mental health, well-being and good character goes hand in hand with top academic results.

His comments this morning come ahead of the launch tomorrow of a major report by Professor Lord Darzi, a former Health Minister, and Prof Lord Layard, an economist and former Government advisor.

The report will say that young people should have weekly ‘happiness lessons’ to counteract the effect of schools being ‘exams factories’. It is being presented at the World Innovation Summit in Health in Doha.

Wellington College has seen a transformation of its academic results since it introduced such lessons in 2006.

Sir Anthony Seldon said: “Governments in Britain and across the world are labouring under a pernicious falsehood, that you either promote student health and well-being in school or you have academic results.

“The truth is that good schools have both. Indeed, schools across the world will be far more likely to achieve top academic results if they teach their young people about their mental health, happiness, well-being and good character. At Wellington College, we have improved from 256th to 21st in the Sunday Times A level league table from 2006-2014, the very years when we have been teaching well-being and happiness.” Wellington is not aware of any school in Britain that has improved so dramatically.

Sir Anthony has long campaigned for this kind of fundamental change in the way that children are educated. He has written ‘An end to factory schools: An education manifesto 2010-2020’, in which he makes 20 recommendations which would help bring about such change.

One in ten young people in Britain now suffer from clinical anxiety and depression and Childline have reported a tripling in the numbers of children receiving stress counselling in the last year.

“All the main political parties should place well-being and character at the heart of their manifestos for education. The Duchess of Cambridge is quite right in calling today for much greater attention to be given to helping young people with mental health problems, and helping to prevent such problems occurring. This is exactly what this emphasis on happiness and well-being will achieve.”

Under the Darzi and Layard proposals, school pupils from the age of five would spend at least one hour a week discussing their emotions, setting positive life goals, and learning how to cope with everyday pressures and social media. [Wellington College. 17.2.2015]
Thousands of teachers across the country are to be given training and support to help them tackle homophobic bullying in schools, it was announced today.

The government has pledged £2 million to help eradicate homophobic and transphobic bullying in schools. The money will be used to finance teacher training, as well as projects to help pupils understand the dangers of prejudice.

Some 86 per cent of secondary teachers and 45 per cent of primary teachers say that pupils at their school have experienced homophobic bullying, according to a survey carried out by gay-rights organisation Stonewall last year. And the vast majority – 89 per cent in secondaries and 70 per cent in primaries – have heard homophobic language used in school.

The aim of the new funding is to give teachers the knowledge necessary to tackle homophobic and transphobic bullying immediately and effectively.

Jo Swinson, minister for women and equalities, said: “The trauma of being bullied at school can stay with you for life. Teachers need specialist support and training to help them stamp out homophobic bullying.” [For the full story go to TES. 24.3.15]
"The Government’s aspirations are that by 2020 we would wish to see: Number 10: Professionals who work with children and young people are trained in child development and mental health, and understand what can be done to provide help and support for those who need it." Future in Mind. Promoting, protecting and improving our children and young people’s mental health
and wellbeing. Department of Health. 17 March 2015

For the full Taskforce report go to:
Schools call in therapists as stress soars among pupils

...TOP schools are turning to psychiatrists and counsellors to help deal with a rising tide of self-harm, eating disorders, depression and suicide among pupils weighed down by exam pressure, social media and family breakdown.

Head teachers said this weekend that, as well as hiring counsellors and holding mindfulness and meditation lessons, they were working with psychiatrists and therapists at private hospitals such as the Priory clinics.

One said parents, concerned at lengthy NHS queues for mental health treatment, were paying up to £750 a day for children to be seen as inpatients at private hospitals or finding their own therapists who charge up to £100 an hour.

Bernard Trafford, headmaster of the Royal Grammar School in Newcastle upon Tyne, said he employed two full time counsellors and mental health problems were affecting nearly every school. Sunday Times. 15.3.15

...They also call in PSHE consultants! Parents' sessions on teenager's pressures rolling out across schools in the SE now alongside stress management sessions for the kids as they edge closer to their exams. Contact me for more info'.