John Stainer's Action for Happiness

Happy land! happy land! Thy fame resounds shore to shore
Happy land! where 'tis a crime, they tell us, to be poor.
If you shelter cannot find, of you they'll soon take care:
Most likely send you to grind wind - For sleeping in the air.
- Ultramarine

Adrian Bethune is breeding a race of super-children at John Stainer Primary School. He writes:

I am a teacher at John Stainer School on Mantle Road. I am also the Healthy Body and Mind Leader at the school.

I wondred if you could post a feed/advert on your Brockley blog about an event we are hosting on  Thursday 15th Nov 6.30pm-8.00pm

We are screening an award winning documentary called 'Happy' at our school to celebrate us becoming a champion school for Action For Happiness and their Schools for Wellbeing Scheme. We are inviting the local community to come and watch the film at our school, meet other parents and teachers and learn more about the project. 

We have signed up to the scheme because we have been trialing some new initiatives in our school and want to continue to develop and hone what we do and Action For Happiness have a great deal of contacts, research and resources that we can benefit from. 

Schools that purely focus on results and attainment, in my opinion, don't always produce happy, well-rounded pupils. England has the most tested primary school pupils than anywhere else in the world. In contrast, at John Stainer, we believe that if you focus on the children's happiness and sense of wellbeing, good results and achievements naturally follow. 

This does not mean that we have lowered our expectations in terms of what we want our pupils to achieve. To be clear, John Stainer School has very high expectations of its pupils. We want pupils to do their best and achieve their full potential - which is why teaching them about resilience and perseverance is part of our wellbeing strategy. 

In practice, some of the things we have been doing in our school to help promote our pupils' happiness and wellbeing are:

Fostering a Growth Mindset - using the research and ideas of Carol Dweck, we are doing more in our classes to move pupils' mindsets from fixed ones (where they believe their talents and abilities are fixed no matter what they do e.g. "I'm rubbish at maths"), to growth mindsets (where they realise that with enough effort, they can improve at something.  

Teaching our children about brain plasticity - we have been teaching mini neuroscience lessons to classes, showing them how their brain works. Most pupils now can tell you about their neurons connecting up when we learn something new and how, if we find something hard, it's because our neurons haven't connected up and we need more practice at it. 

Meditation - I guide my class through a 3-min meditation every morning before we do any work. There is masses of clinical study research on the benefits of meditation on mental wellbeing, health and learning/memory. 

Perseverance and Resilience - we try and teach our children that they will inevitably face challenges, setbacks and disappointments. Indeed, teaching about happiness and wellbeing is NOT about our children feeling happy all the time (trying to achieve this leads to unhappiness as it's impossible!). We also stumbled across this clip in my class and now the phrase 'be like the penguin' has become a bit of a motto as the penguin's fight really seemed to resonate with the children at John Stainer