Please note that What Works Wellbeing will close operations on 30 April 2024.  Read more
Sep 18, 2019 | by Lucy Bailey

Is it possible to embed wellbeing in schools?

This week’s guest blog comes from Lucy Bailey, Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder of Bounce Forward. Bounce Forward are leading a study to embed evidence-based wellbeing and emotional health lessons in secondary schools. Here, Lucy outlines the process of delivery and reflects on the research outcomes and interesting findings. 

A recent blog by The Children’s Society on their Good Childhood report showed reductions in happiness over time for young people in the UK. Many of the issues identified as influencing factors identified in the report are problems that can be influenced by schools. As the key findings from the Origins of Happiness highlight: schools make as much difference to emotional health and behaviour as to academic achievement. Schools and individual teachers have a huge effect on the happiness of children. This is explored in this study,  the biggest of its kind, led by Bounce Forward, the London School of Economics and funded by the Education Endowment Foundation. 

Changing landscape 

Good schools have already  explored ways to teach wellbeing. The importance of learning about wellbeing and mental health in schools has been reinforced by the pending statutory requirement to teach Health Education along with Ofsted’s new framework. This focuses on the importance of personal development, including resilience, within a curriculum that meets the needs of students. 

The Healthy Minds curriculum

We have developed an evidence-informed wellbeing curriculum for schools. The raw content was gathered from a project funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, that searched internationally for the best, well-tested materials.

The four-year Healthy Minds curriculum consists of 113 lessons for year 7-10 students. The thread that binds the teaching and learning is resilience skills that are taught explicitly through 26 individual lessons or implicitly through the teaching of other topics. 

Research outcomes

Data was collected in Year Seven as a baseline, in Year Nine and again and at the end of Year 10. The results were measured against a control group of students who were taught Personal, Social, Health and Economic lessons ‘as usual’. The health and behaviour results show percentage gains across all outcomes. Academic outcomes will be published in September 2020. 

An unexpected outcome: internalising behaviour 

At the mid-way point we see a negative effect on internalising behaviour (how young people are feeling inside) and this is interesting. Healthy Minds encourages young people to explore and understand positive and negative emotions as natural and not necessarily bad. So, the likelihood is that students were able  to recognise when they were feeling sad, or anxious increases. What they did about it (externalising behaviour) is shown as having a positive effect at the mid-way point.

To find out more 

  • Healthy Minds here
  • Health Outcomes findings here
  • Case Study Report here

What impact does sport and dance participation have on young people’s wellbeing?

Download the evidence

Previous article
Next article


Jul 14, 2021 | By Bethan and Meera
#BeeWell – Measuring wellbeing in secondary schools across Manchester
Guest Blog
Sep 23, 2021 | By Dr Magdalena Soffia and Dr Alexandra Turner
Children and young people’s subjective wellbeing: how to measure it more consistently?
Guest Blog
Jan 26, 2023 | By Dr Claire Goodfellow
Loneliness in young people: mental health and loneliness in Scottish schools
Guest Blog
Jun 17, 2020 | By Adrian Bethune
Measuring wellbeing in schools and colleges
Guest Blog
Apr 6, 2016 | By Centre
New Report: Promoting Emotional Health, Wellbeing and Resilience in Primary Schools from Public Policy Institute for Wales
Centre Blog
Apr 20, 2023 | By What Works Centre for Wellbeing
Key insights into loneliness and wellbeing in young people
Guest Blog
Feb 26, 2015 | By Centre
Measuring the wellbeing of young people- NPC's Dan Corry
Centre Blog
Sep 2, 2021 | By Aleisha Clarke
School-based interventions: what works for young people’s health and wellbeing?
Guest Blog

Sign up to our weekly e-mail list

Sign up to receive resources, insights and evidence as they are published.

What impact does sport and dance participation have on young people’s wellbeing?

Download the evidence

Previous article
Next article