With concern about young people’s mental health on the rise, teachers are introducing bursts of meditation, mindfulness and yoga sessions during class time.
But one school has turned to the teachings of Aristotle in an attempt to boost pupil wellbeing. Colfe's School, a £17,600-a-year boarding school in Greenwich, south London, has introduced a course in “Eudaimonia”, usually translated as human flourishing or happiness.
The course, which is taught during PSHE lessons, explores the importance of “virtuous behaviour” and examines how the “good life” can be achieved.
Pupils learn about various topics – including mindfulness, spirituality, sex and relationships – through the lens of the Ancient Greek philosopher.
Emerald Henderson, the school’s head of philosophy who teaches the course, said that the lessons into virtuous behaviour provide a powerful antidote to being obsessed with “social media and superficiality”.
“This is a well-being initiative with intellectual integrity and pastoral appeal. Rather than simply focusing on pursuit of their own happiness, the Eudaimonia programme sees personal flourishing as the by-product of living a morally good life,” she said.
The Eudaimonia lessons are spread throughout all ages, with pupils in Year 7 getting one lesson per fortnight, Year 8 and 9 have two full days over the year, rising to a lesson a week for pupils in Years 10 and 11.
Brighton College, a £40,000-a-year co-educational boarding school, has previously meditation sessions in an attempt to calm unsettled and fidgety children during lessons. All teachers in the school were supplied with an “emergency” meditation kit in order to quell boisterous youngsters during class.
A study by Nuffield Health last year suggested that wellbeing should be timetabled alongside English and maths.
The recommendation followed on from a two-year pilot scheme in which a dedicated member of staff was assigned to teach children about mental health and wellbeing at an Oxfordshire secondary school.
The results suggested the role traditionally fulfilled by the matron in British schools could soon be filled by "Heads of Wellness".
The Department for Education has announced the launch of a two-year research project in school, where children will be taught about mindfulness, breathing exercises and relaxation techniques.
The government hopes the two-year scheme will provide useful information regarding what mental health practises can benefit students in schools.