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  • Writer's pictureAdrian Bethune

Seeds of Happiness Positively Impacts Pupil Wellbeing

A recent independent Pilot Study into the effectiveness of Teachappy’s award-winning Seeds of Happiness course shows that children taking part experience sustained levels of improved wellbeing and improved attitudes towards learning compared to controls.

The online course, awarded the Teach Primary 5 star award for Wellbeing in 2021, delivers a 7-lesson curriculum which introduces children and their teachers to the science of wellbeing. The course aims to positively change their habits and behaviours inside and outside of school. Based on the ideas explored within Adrian Bethune’s book, Wellbeing in the Primary Classroom, the Seeds of Happiness breaks down the theory of positive psychology and provides tools and resources for teachers to deliver to their children in the classroom environment.

Teachappy’s practices have always been grounded in evidenced-based research, so when we were approached by Sean Callard, Student Researcher at the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, to conduct a Pilot Study of Seeds of Happiness we jumped at the chance.

About the Study

The aim of the study was two-fold: to investigate the effectiveness of the Seeds of Happiness course in improving the wellbeing of primary children; and to assess whether any impact was sustained past the completion of the course.

After reaching out via Twitter for volunteer schools, a primary school in the Midlands was selected by Sean. The two-form entry school had never delivered The Seeds of Happiness curriculum before. The two adjacent Key Stage 2 classes were selected for the study with one participating in the curriculum (the intervention group) and the other not (the control group).

Wellbeing levels of all the children were measured through the ‘How I feel About Myself and School’ scale (HIFAMAS) at three points throughout the study; pre-intervention, mid-intervention and 6 weeks post-intervention.

The Results

The Pilot Study presented 3 key findings:

1. Children’s Participation in Seeds of Happiness resulted in improved wellbeing.

The intervention and control classes showed similar levels of wellbeing before the course commenced. However, measurement of wellbeing levels at points during and after the completion of the course showed 'statistically significant differences' between the classes, with higher scores in the intervention class.

2. Improvements to children’s wellbeing were sustained over at least ½ term following the conclusion of the course.

Follow-up measurement of the classes' wellbeing 6 weeks after the completion of the course showed sustained levels of improved wellbeing in the intervention class compared to the control class.

3. Seeds of Happiness had a positive impact on emotions as well as attitudes towards learning.

Perhaps our favourite finding! Interviews with the children showed that participation in Seeds of Happiness led to positive emotions, including enjoyment, excitement, and happiness, as well as a positive change in attitudes towards learning. In fact, the module on how we learn and neuroplasticity "Your Elastic Plastic Brain" was one of the most recalled modules during the interviews.

This is what Sean had to say about the study:

“The UK is currently in the midst of a mental health crisis. In recent years, there has been a dramatic increase in the rate of children (aged 7 - 16 years) with a probable mental health disorder, rising from 12.1% in 2017 to 18% in 2022 (NHS Digital, 2022), yet the latest figures indicate only around a third of these children are able to access treatment (Children’s Commissioner, 2022). Furthermore, given the relationship between wellbeing, academic performance, and pupil behaviour (Durlak et al, 2011; Gutman and Vorhaus, 2012), combined with evidence that suggests the strongest predictor of adult life satisfaction is childhood emotional wellbeing (Clark, et al., 2018), finding ways to increase wellbeing and improve mental health within schools has perhaps never been more necessary.

Although there is now a multitude of wellbeing and mental health programmes offered by external companies and organisations to support schools in this endeavour, there are very few UK studies assessing the effectiveness of universal school-based wellbeing programmes, and fewer still focused on primary school centred programmes, such as Seeds of Happiness. Research in this area is important to enable policy makers and school leaders to make evidence-based decisions, hopefully ensuring children can access programmes which will have the greatest impact on their wellbeing.

I'm so pleased that Seeds of Happiness had such a positive effect on the wellbeing of the children in the study, and that the improvements were largely sustained until follow-up. The qualitative data obtained via group interviews highlighted in greater depth how much the children took from the programme - most notably how metacognition skills gained from Seeds of Happiness had altered their mindset towards lessons. Although this was a very small pilot study, the results are incredibly promising and reinforce the wealth of anecdotal evidence of the benefits of Seeds of Happiness.”

Seeds of Happiness Report (1)
Download PDF • 1.19MB

Download & read Sean's Pilot Study in full >>>>>>>>

We’d like to say thank you to Sean Callard and Tania Clarke from the Faculty of Education at University of Cambridge for showing such interest and support for our curriculum and helping us to evidence its efficacy.

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