Head of Education Andrew Foster, explains how Tougher Minds has been working successfully with North London school Quintin Kynaston.

If you haven’t read Ross McGill, aka @TeacherToolkit’s blog on the Tougher Minds programme at the school where he is deputy head, Quintin Kynaston, I advise you to do so now.

If you have, you will have seen how much the Quintin Kynaston pupils felt they gained from learning about their brains and using the techniques that we suggested.

I see in today’s Sunday Times that the there is yet another story about teenagers not going to sleep till after midnight and relying on pills and energy drinks to keep going. This summer we will see yet another raft of exam stress stories.

I for one am tired of the response to these reports being a mixture of hand-wringing and ineffective interventions. The jury is not out. We can teach young people to take charge of themselves and better serve their own long-term aims in the face of their counter-productive short term urges.

My experience is drawn from a very wide spread of pupils and parents, in terms of age, background, current academic attainment, ambition, location in the UK. The thing that strikes me again and again is that the core problems are the same:

·      Poor habits around sleep, diet, exercise.

·      Procrastination with homework and revision.

·      Inattention in class

·      Near or actual addiction to mobile phones, social media and computer games.

·      Anxiety regarding exam performance and relationships with peers.

It was fantastic to work with Quintin Kynaston pupils, parents and staff to help address these problems. As you can see from the research, the pupils we worked with developed habits that would be the envy of high-performing professional people three or four times their age – setting alarms to go to bed, employing metacognitive techniques to maintain focus, using sophisticated strategies to manage their confidence in the face of setbacks.

My heartfelt thanks go to everyone at QK for all they did to support the programme and make it the massive success that it was. It is heartening to see children from a range of backgrounds benefiting from being part of such an innovative and nurturing environment.

If you are interested in finding out more about how you can help your child, I strongly recommend attending the Tougher Minds Bite-Size Parent Training Event on Thursday 10th March at the Institute of Education in central London. The problems they face that previously appeared so impossible to solve are not. We can help them be happier, healthier and higher-performing.

  • The links below tell you more about the forthcoming Tougher Minds Bite-size training event on March 10th. The event is split into two sessions.
  • For the session for parents of children in Years five, six and seven, sitting entrance exams and facing a school transition, click here.
  • For parents with children working towards GCSEs and A Levels, click here.

Watch this video to hear from pupils, parents and teachers at Quintin Kynaston.

 

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