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Oxford University and the MYRIAD Wellbeing Study Trial

At Fairfield we have a deep commitment to pupils’ personal development and wellbeing. As such, we put ourselves forward to take part in a trial to explore the impact of mindfulness practices on young people. This is the first trial of its type in the world. Incredibly, we were randomly selected to receive the full study arm of the trial.

The trial name is MYRIAD (My Resilience in Adolescence). MYRIAD is a study into how we can prepare young people to manage their emotional health and improve resilience. The study is funded by the Wellcome Trust and at the heart of it is a large randomised controlled trial to establish whether teaching mindfulness in schools is effective in supporting positive mental health. The study is being led by Oxford University, Cambridge University and University College London.

In the summer of 2016, four colleagues travelled to Birmingham to receive four days of intensive training. We were joined by staff from eleven other schools who had been randomly selected from across the UK to form the first cohort of the study. Over the course of the training each of us learnt how to deliver the ‘.b’ course as mindfulness instructors. The .b course is superb, it is a series of strategies which pupils learn that can be used in a variety of settings to restore a sense of wellbeing and calm. We returned from the training to learn which randomly identified classes from across years 8 and 9 were going to complete the .b course.

As the staff team delivered the sessions we started to hear of the impact from pupils, many said they had taught the strategies to family members and they in turn were starting to see the benefits. We felt it wasn’t right for us to deliver such a high impact course to our designated study groups alone, so we started to teach the whole of year 7 making it part of their Lifeskills curriculum. This continues today, we are committed to ensuring all our year 7 pupils have at their disposal, ways of restoring a sense of balance and wellbeing. These may not be strategies that pupils use right now, but maybe during examinations or times of difficulty and stress, they may be a support.

Our study groups have been visited by the MYRIAD team to complete confidential questionnaires gauging resilience and wellbeing in the years following pupils’ initial mindfulness training. This has happened twice a year, totalling 5 visits in all. There are now 84 schools on the trial and once the study is completed and the results have been analysed, the outcomes and conclusions will be shared with key organisations and figures in education and health.

To all our pupils who have been part of the study, a big thank you for being such willing participants, you may well be shaping education in the future. I am sure what you have learnt will support you in life. If you wish to find out more please visit: www.myriadproject.org

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