Giving Hertfordshire pupils the resilience to navigate a complex world – Bounce Forward charity

Published: 07 Jan 2019

Pupils from Hertfordshire schools have been benefiting from a course to increase their inner strength and resilience which has received praise by researchers at the London School of Economics (LSE).

In line with the government’s mission to make personal, social and health education compulsory, charity Bounce Forward’s ‘Healthy Minds’ trial was shown to increase pupils’ life satisfaction by LSE experts.

Healthy Minds is a four-year curriculum that trains teachers and equips them with materials to give one lesson each week for Year 7 to 10 pupils, covering topics such as resilience skills, social media awareness, mental illness and mindfulness.

Founded by Emma Judge and Lucy Bailey of Hertfordshire County Council in 2009, under its original name, How to Thrive, Bounce Forward became an independent charity in 2016.

Receiving funding from the Education Endowment Foundation, the curriculum was trialled in 34 state schools across England over the last five years, including 12 in Hertfordshire. The results were analysed by experts at the London School of Economics who described the improvements to pupils as “outstanding”.

Researchers said the Healthy Minds curriculum had increased pupils’ satisfaction with their lives as much as when an adult finds a life partner. A typical pupil, whose global health was initially ranked as average, rose substantially after taking the course.

Commenting on the positive findings, which were celebrated with participating schools at the recent Healthy Minds Conference, Lucy Bailey, Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder said: “This trial has proven that when personal, social and health education subjects are prioritised and teachers are properly trained to provide good quality teaching and learning then they can have a positive impact on students.

“We all hope that these results will change the way personal, social and health-related topics are valued and taught in schools.

“There is a real opportunity with new policy directives, such as the proposals to make Health Education (including teaching mental resilience), and Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) statutory in secondary schools from 2020. The NHS Five Year Forward will change how we think about mental health and respond to mental illness.”

Commenting on her previous roles with Hertfordshire County Council, spanning 17 years, Lucy said: “I started in youth work and continued with different roles in children’s services including Strategy Manager for Young People’s Substance Misuse, Implementation Manager for Integrated Practice and Head of Service.

“How to Thrive (Bounce Forward’s previous name) was an example of a Council for the Future initiative. Hertfordshire County Council has always been forward focused and I will always be truly grateful for the space and support I was afforded to establish and develop Bounce Forward. Moving to independence and becoming a charity in 2016 was seamless and I am delighted that John Wood and now Owen Mapley remain part of our Advisory Group.”

Praising the positive trial, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Families, Teresa Heritage said: “More and more we hear about the worry about the mental health of our teenagers. As surveys show, their emotional health is worsening and their behavioural problems are increasing.

“We hear less about how resourceful young people are and the important part that school influence has. For schools make almost as much difference to the emotional health and behaviour of their pupils as to their academic achievement.

“The council is enormously proud to have helped to start this initiative which has progressed and evolved so successfully. Well done to Lucy and Bounce Forward and let’s hope more and more schools will sign up for the benefit of their pupils.”