Sixth-formers help younger pupils with life skills

The Sunday Times, 24.04.16, the wellbeing of 11-year-olds improved after they were taught mental health techniques by sixth-formers, a new research study has found. Leading independent HMC school Highgate features.

Pupils in the sixth forms at four London schools developed the course, which includes information about eating disorders and self-harm, after talking to 11-year-olds. More than 280 pupils, including those at the fee-paying Highgate School and the state school La Sainte Union, both in north London, took part.

Pupils’ perceptions of their restlessness, anger, solitariness, worry, nervousness and desire to help others “all improved” after the pilot course.

Patrick Johnston, assistant head at Highgate School, said: “One of the most striking things about the project has been the enthusiasm the sixth-formers brought to the project and how dedicated they are to ensuring the 11-year-olds learn from what they know and in some cases have experienced.”

Natasha Devon, the government’s mental health champion for schools, is expected to recommend the approach in a forthcoming report outlining ways of improving children’s wellbeing. Teenagers teaching younger children about mental health could eventually be included in PSHE (personal, social, health and economic education) lessons.

Over the past 10 years the number of young people admitted to hospital because of self-harm has risen by 68%, and in the past three years admissions for teenagers with eating disorders have nearly doubled.

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