Bruton insists emotional wellbeing courses are not "mindfulness" for school children

More teachers are to be trained to help pupils battle anxiety and build resilience

Bruton insists emotional wellbeing courses are not "mindfulness" for school children

Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton, 30-08-2017. Image: Leah Farrell/RollingNews

The Education Minister has insisted he is not introducing mindfulness into Irish schools.

Teachers in more than 900 disadvantaged schools are to be trained to help pupils battle anxiety and build resilience through two new courses.

The ‘Incredible Years’ programme aims to reduce behavioural difficulties and strengthen the social and emotional competence of primary school children.

The ‘Friends’ programme meanwhile, aims to reduce anxiety and promote coping skills in children and young teenagers between the ages of 4 and 18-years-old.

The Department of Education has insisted both programmes are “internationally renowned and evidence-based” and are supported by the Governments Educational Psychological Service (NEPS).

On The Pat Kenny Show this morning Education Minister Richard Bruton said the courses will provide sessions in emotional wellbeing – but denied they are “contemplation classes.”

“No it is not mindfulness,” he said. “These are programmes that are run either for teachers or in the second case, these are ten sessions that will be provided to young people to help themselves learn how to cope with challenges in their lives.

“So this isn’t, if you like, a sort of a contemplation class; this is real content with real capacity to influence how people cope.”

He said that ensuring the wellbeing and mental health of all students is one of his key priorities, adding that the plan feeds into the government’s wider ambition to position the Irish education and training service as the best in Europe within a decade.

“It is much more than tacking on a class at the end of the day,” he said. “This is actually requiring schools to create a plan for themselves based on a self-evaluation of what is going on in all of its curriculum its, its relationships, its policies and the culture [of the school].”

Teachers in 907 DEIS (Delivering Equality of Opportunity) schools around the country are being invited to apply for the training programmes over the next three years.

The ‘Incredible Years’ programme has already been rolled out to thousands of teachers in approximately 600 schools.

The ‘Friends’ programme meanwhile has been rolled out in over 1,500 schools.

The Department said today’s announcement will ensure that all teachers in all DEIS school have access to the programmes.

You can listen back to Minister Bruton’s appearance on the Pat Kenny Show here: