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Mindfulness: Schools

Volume 612: debated on Monday 4 July 2016

Good mental and emotional health is a key priority for this Government, and it is crucial if we want all children to fulfil their potential both academically and for their general wellbeing. It is for schools to decide how best to provide appropriate mental and emotional health to support their pupils, and the Department is undertaking a national survey to find out what activities schools offer, including mindfulness, to help us decide how best to support schools in practice.

Having visited schools in my constituency that are running mindfulness programmes in the classroom, I know how much such programmes are appreciated by young people. Given the growing mental health crisis, there is a real urgency to innovate, and mindfulness can be part of that. Will the Minister agree to meet a cross-party group to discuss the availability of such programmes?

I am happy to meet the hon. Lady and a delegation to discuss the matter further. I am all for greater innovation in schools and for deciding how we can better support children so that they are strong and stable emotionally, which we know is a better backdrop to them being academically successful. I am sure we can arrange a meeting to discuss that further.

Mindfulness can be an important component of a wider PSHE programme, which our good and outstanding schools already implement. What progress is being made towards making PSHE statutory in all our schools?

I refer my hon. Friend to the earlier answer on this subject. At the core of this issue is ensuring that we have the highest quality PSHE possible. We continue to keep the matter under review, and will return to it shortly.

Does the Minister agree that mindfulness can be helpful not only with the social and emotional aspects of learning but in improving the attentiveness of pupils in schools, and therefore their academic achievement as well as their personal wellbeing?

There is a small but increasing amount of evidence that backs the hon. Gentleman’s claim. That is why we want to look at this area more carefully, hence the national survey that is under way to enrich the evidence and knowledge to see what really works so that we can improve all the aspects of a child’s life to which he refers.