How to respond when education as you knew it is no more

How to respond when education as you knew it is no more

Exams, Mindfulness, Wellbeing
Wow, what a week! The world has changed beyond recognition in the last few days, and no more so than in education. There’s been a lot of anxiety and confusion around social distancing and how this relates to the seemingly contradictory decision to keep UK schools and colleges open. Students and teachers have been in limbo and it’s been hard to focus on anything except watching for the latest news updates. The news we've all been waiting for Gavin Williamson’s announcement this evening changed all that: schools closing and exams cancelled. People have asked for both of these in recent weeks, but the suddenness of the announcement is shocking, especially given the very recent U-turn on the “herd immunity” policy, which looked like it was putting children and education staff…
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Instant mindfulness techniques to learn today

Instant mindfulness techniques to learn today

Exams, Wellbeing
Most of us have heard about mindfulness, the popular method for controlling stress, anxiety and a host of other ills, but how many of us have tried it and found “it doesn’t work”? The thing is, learning mindfulness, really learning it so that it integrates with your life and helps you cope with life’s ups and downs, takes a long time. Lots of practice of formal techniques like sitting meditation is needed before everyday mindfulness becomes part of our lives. And meditation is hard! Those feelings of boredom, frustration and wandering thoughts are real (it’s just that noticing them and bringing the awareness back is part of the practice, hell, it IS the practice!) So what if there was a way to get some of the benefits of mindfulness without…
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How to thrive in Mental Health Awareness Week

How to thrive in Mental Health Awareness Week

Exams, Wellbeing
It’s Mental Health Awareness Week… and it’s the week my students start their exams. I’ve been all too aware of my own mental health lately (always the case when it’s a bit below par) and I figure that sharing my experience might help those wondering how they can possibly tackle the mountain of exam pressure when just living is hard enough. I first became fully aware of mental health as A Thing in 2002, when a dear friend, severely depressed, came to stay in my home. He struggled to get out of bed, to shower, to interact, to contribute to the household… almost everything seemed impossible for him and I couldn’t understand why at the time. Later, my inability to help him in a meaningful way was a huge source…
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Revision – Why bother?

Revision – Why bother?

Exams, Wellbeing
So it’s the end of the week: how have you and your young person been getting on? Is revision well under way or are they having trouble getting started? Today is all about motivation, which can be a challenge for everyone. Each day brings a new start and new ways to procrastinate! The good news though, is that even if they’re feeling like they’ve wasted the week, it’s not too late. You don’t have to wait until Monday to make a fresh start – just Start Where You Are! Go back to the plan, make some adjustment and off you go. The phrase, “Just Do It” might be a sporting cliché, but I find it a useful mantra for all sorts of things, perhaps with a choice word added for…
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Staying well in the exam season

Staying well in the exam season

Exams, Wellbeing
We’ve looked at the “why” and “what” of planning, and yesterday we explored the “how” of revision. But with all this focus on work, it’s no wonder young people and those around them find this a stressful time. So how can we keep our teenagers and ourselves as well as possible during the exam season? Well of course there are two main aspects of health: physical and mental. We all have them, at varying levels, and they’re much more closely intertwined than may people think. Physically, students need to be getting enough sleep (hopefully that’s already in their plan from Monday), drinking enough water and eating the right foods. There’s been a lot written about “brain foods” but generally the normal advice for a healthy, balanced diet still applies at…
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