The Wellbeing Project with Lawn Manor Academy came about as a result of my sustained mentoring programme. I was meeting students on a weekly basis and numerous students were talking about how stress and anxiety was not only impacting their school lives but also their ability to have confidence in what they could achieve once they left school. We wanted to build resilience in the students' ability to do well in their exams and to help them as they approach the next stage in life. We found that without tackling this we were struggling to talk to students about their next steps.
I was aware when developing the project that I wanted it to be sustainable. For this reason I used local yoga teacher Charlie Miles and mindfulness teacher Rebecca Wright who has been involved in the Mindfulness in Schools Project (MiSP) which have a range of resources available to the students once the project had ended. I also made the resources available to the teachers from the Wellbeing session ensuring that the project had longevity.
The project launched at the beginning of the year and the Head of Year 9 and Year 10 were asked to select students who they believed would benefit from the project. 15 students were selected and they were invited to take part in 3 wellbeing activities across 3 weeks. The students firstly took part in a yoga session. They were given an introduction to yoga and the physical and mental health benefits of yoga were discussed. Charlie had a great rapport with the students and even had some students doing the Crow pose after only an hour! The session had a really relaxed atmosphere with students who did not have much flexibility joining in and having fun. The session ended with a relaxation exercise and the feedback from the session was very positive. Students commented that ‘yoga was physical, fun and different, it made me feel good about myself for the rest of the day’ When asked in what way we could improve the activity over 50% of the students suggested more yoga!
The second session was an interactive session on Mindfulness, this included an introduction to the practice of mindfulness as well as simple breathing techniques to help calm the mind. I was very impressed with how well the students engaged with this session. Feedback from the teachers showed that the students were still using some of the breathing techniques weeks after the session.
The third session was delivered by myself and was an interactive session which aimed to discuss how the students can recognise the signs of stress, ways in which to manage their stress and how they can take steps to improve their wellbeing. The session asked the students to complete worksheets about situations which have either a positive or negative impact on their lives and to discuss these in their groups. Some really good discussions took place around the use of social media and the negative impact this can have on their wellbeing. Students were also asked to make a ‘box of happy’ which looked at things that improve their wellbeing, the session ended with a short mindful exercise to bring together all that was learnt over the three weeks.
For me personally The Wellbeing Project was something I was very passionate about and I have been grateful that Study Higher has since been able to offer these sessions to more students at Lawn Manor Academy. It was also great to get the following teacher feedback ‘I felt the course was delivered very well by Tara in a very friendly supportive environment and it is something I would like my students to attend again. So much so that I asked for some of the worksheets to use with other students.’
Tara Aqeel - Higher Education Liaison Officer (Swindon)