A top boarding school is set to introduce “well-being lessons” to boost children’s mental health after the pandemic.
The curriculum at Millfield Prep School, where one fifth of pupils are from London and Surrey, is being redesigned to fit in the 40-minute classes.
Pupils as young as 11 will be taught meditation, yoga, self-care, movement to music, “alfresco pursuits” and the importance of eating well in “soul food” classes, from September.
Millfield has seen an increase in interest from London families wanting to send their children there since the pandemic hit. Its senior school alumni include England footballer Tyrone Mings, and singer Ella Eyre.
Headmistress Shirley Shayler said: “I have read so much in the press about mental health and concerns about how children will be affected by the pandemic, that rather than sitting back and doing nothing we thought we would get ahead of the game.”
Millfield Prep School
Design technology lessons are being reduced from three to two per week, in order to fit in the well-being classes. Normal PSHE lessons will continue, and all pupils in Years 7 and 8 will take part in the compulsory well-being class.
PE teachers will give the “soul food” lessons about healthy eating, the chaplain will teach meditation and mindfulness and medical centre staff will teach self-care.
Mrs Shayler said: “Young people of today have so much more to deal with than when we were young.”
Jo Morgan-Hughes, the school’s director of sport said: “It is imperative that children learn to take care of their minds as well as their bodies.”
Canford to launch sleep programme in September
A Dorset independent school is set to help pupils sleep more easily when they return in September.
Canford School’s sleep programme has been developed in the wake of research demonstrating how a good night’s rest can improve productivity, concentration, and emotional control.
“We want to ensure we enrich our pupils’ wellbeing with the knowledge and understanding on the science and importance of sleep, so that they will feel empowered to make better choices around sleep health and hygiene,” said Melissa Clinton, joint head of wellbeing at the boarding and day school.
“This in turn will support their mental, physical and emotional health, whilst helping them feel more productive and energised in all aspects of life. These are vital life skills that they can carry with them in future years.”
Pupils new to the school will be asked to complete a questionnaire and base line testing, while families will be given suggestions to help prepare their child’s move to a new environment.
Once in situ, they will find that each house has a member of teaching staff dedicated to the programme, plus a matron trained as a ‘sleep champion’ taking the lead role in the in-house education programme.
All year groups will take part in the new initiative, developed with help from The Sleep Charity, with termly sleep index forms affording pupils the opportunity to check and receive advice on any changes.
The programme will cover core sleep areas, including:
The initiative so impressed Teen Tips founder Alicia Drummond that Clinton was invited last month to address the group’s pastoral leaders’ conference.
“Canford are the only school known to us who are providing such valuable education on sleep, and we are so grateful for their generosity in sharing the resources to benefit the wider Wellbeing Hub community of schools,” said Drummond.