Healthy Minds is a unique research project that is contributing to our understanding of how students can be supported to develop emotional resilience and self efficacy alongside their academic development.
Worldwide research into evidenced based approaches that meet the UK, PSHE requirement commissioned by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation suggested a model curriculum for secondary schools. How to Thrive, in partnership with the London School of Economics (LSE), secured funding from the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) to test and evidence the model using the title Healthy Minds.
The Research Project
The Healthy Minds project is tracking 11,000 students from 32 secondary schools over four years. The research is aiming to evidence the link between a healthy mind (students who feel good and function well), academic attainment in school and psychological strength in terms of resilience and good character. The ‘treatment’ that is being tested is the Healthy Minds Lessons that are being taught alongside the core curriculum. The lessons have been specifically designed to be relevant to the age of the student and to build learning across a wide range of personal, health and social topics. The resilience skills taught in the foundational lessons at the start of year 7 are an essential basis from which all the learning builds. The aim is for students who have been taught the lessons show an increased ability to navigate the world within and beyond school and to thrive and flourish.
Phase 2 schools are now in their final year
Hear the views of Healthy Minds Teachers
The Research Design
The research study involves 31 secondary schools. 11 schools were recruited in phase 1 and a further 20 in phase 2. The ‘type’ of schools include comprehensive, grammar, academies, faith and in different locations both rural and urban. There is also a small special school. The schools were randomly divided into two groups the ‘intervention’ group and the ‘control’ group. The intervention group started to teach the curriculum to all year 7 students who started in September 2013. Year 8 students (those that started at the school in September 2012) take part in the research as an in-school control group and are taught PSHE ‘as usual’. The control schools do not teach the curriculum to their students who started in September 2013 provide a control group and will be taught PHSE ‘as usual’.
Download an overview of the research project here.
The Research Measures
The project is measuring the intervention (the curriculum) as whole rather than component parts, which have already been evidenced in their specific area to produce positive outcomes. Qualitative data is collected from teachers and students at the end of each element to contribute to understanding any mediating factors for the results. The primary outcome measures are; 1)
a self-report health measure (Child Health Questionnaire (CHQ-CF87)) designed for children and young people 10 to 18 years of age and suitable for use in a school context. It measures physical and psychosocial health, and includes subscales on physical functioning, social-emotional role, social-behavioural role, social-physical role, bodily pain, behaviour, mental health, self-esteem, general health, family activities, family cohesion, and change in health. 2)
an academic measure using standardised Math and English tests. Students are randomly assigned to take either a Math or an English test at regular points over 4 years. The final academic level will be measured from GCSE results. The secondary outcome measures will include flourishing (using the Flourishing Scale); depression (using the Mood and Feelings Questionnaire); anxiety (using Screen for Child Anxiety Related Disorders (SCARED)) and wellbeing (using the Warwick Edinburgh Scale and the ONS questions). Internal school progress data, GCSE data (5 years after baseline) from the National Pupil Database, absence data from the National Pupil Database, and behaviour incident data from school databases will also be measured. For more information and detail on both the design and the outcomes please make contact
Healthy Minds Curriculum
Each component of the curriculum has been rigorously evaluated and found to have significant effects, or is evidence-informed and developed from the latest guidance and best practice. Our belief is that the combined weight of all these components, along with the regular time and space in school to develop knowledge and practise skills, will result in significant positive effects for students and schools. The curriculum has been developed in-line with adolescent development and the reality of life for students in and beyond school. The design has ensured that every element:
- Builds on the previous and is relevant and directed by student input.
- Is taught applying a wide range of teaching and learning styles.
- Offers realistic, age appropriate and relevant information.
- Encourages students to reflect and practise what they learn.
- Meets and exceeds the personal, social, health education requirement.
The curriculum is relevant and practical and helps students to understand themselves and others. The wide range of transferrable skills and strategies increase social, personal competence and thus improve the opportunities for social mobility and employability. Students will understand how to feel good and function well through established habits, useful for life. We have designed a book that sets out the curriculum journey, detailing each of the elements. Click here Healthy Minds Curriuclum Journey to download a copy of the book.
Access to the Healthy Minds Curriculum is available to schools beyond the project. Contact us for more information.