Whole School

Happiness should become part of the school curriculum

Happiness should be part of the school curriculumHappiness should become part of the school curriculum in a bid to improve our children’s deteriorating mental health and

In a study by Centre Forum Mental Health Commission released today, the report said that more could be done to “protect and promote the mental health of our children” in order to receive” lifelong benefits”.

The report, which was published after 12 months of research, said that approximately 10 per cent of children currently have a mental health disorder and that since 2009 the life satisfaction of Britain’s young people had stopped improving and could have even begun to decline.

According to the report, this could be due to factors such as pressure to have access to money, have the perfect body and lifestyle or to achieve in school and university.

In light of the findings, the report suggested that a “whole school approach” was needed in schools across the country to ensure the emotional wellbeing of their students across our schools. It was also suggested special classes should be set up in which teachers can find out how their students are feeling and make plans on how best to deal with these problems and increase their happiness.

The study also encouraged better training for teachers in how to help increase children's happiness, and actively encourage partnerships between schools and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Agencies (CAMHS) to ensure that the responsibility was not left with the schools alone.

They did say however, that this may be hard due to cuts to CAMHS budgets.

The study found that the increase in childhood mental health issues had led to more young people turning to alcohol, cannabis and self-harm.

It said that 24 per cent of young people now drink alcohol at least once a week, 49 per cent use cannabis at least once a month and between one in every 12 and one in every 15 young people deliberately self-harm.

The findings on childhood mental health were part of a larger study looking into the state of mental health in Britain.

The study came up with five key priorities to focus on between now and 2020 in a bid to stop Britain’s growing problem with mental wellbeing.

Alongside prioritising investment in the mental health of children and young people, the study suggested the rolling out of a National Wellbeing Programme that would try to reduce the stigma that goes with mental health issues, establish the “pursuit of happiness” for Britain’s people as a tangible goal for the government and better deal with depression in the workplace.

In addition to this, the study rose pushed for greater parity between mental health funding and demand for mental health services.

Currently, mental health services on the NHS receive only 13 per cent of funding but account for 23 per cent of demand.

Paul Burstow MP and Chair of the CentreForum Mental Health Commission said “Failure to promote good mental health not only ruins lives, it costs the economy £105 billion every year. There is no single simple change that will deliver better mental health.

“Starving mental health services of investment is a massive false economy, building up more costs to the NHS, to social care, to welfare, to businesses and the economy.”

He added: “The cost of doing nothing or simply settling for gradual change runs to billions of pounds, but the real cost is measured in human misery, misery for want of determination to act on the evidence.”

 

the Independent Newspaper, WEDNESDAY 16 JULY 2014

Why Bilinguals are Smarter

SPEAKING two languages rather than just one has obvious practical benefits in an increasingly globalized world. But in recent years, scientists have begun to show that the advantages of bilingualism are even more fundamental than being able to converse with a wider range of people. Being bilingual, it turns out, makes you smarter. It can have a profound effect on your brain, improving cognitive skills not related to language and even shielding against dementia in old age.

This view of bilingualism is remarkably different from the understanding of bilingualism through much of the 20th century. Researchers, educators and policy makers long considered a second language to be an interference, cognitively speaking, that hindered a child’s academic and intellectual development.

They were not wrong about the interference: there is ample evidence that in a bilingual’s brain both language systems are active even when he is using only one language, thus creating situations in which one system obstructs the other. But this interference, researchers are finding out, isn’t so much a handicap as a blessing in disguise. It forces the brain to resolve internal conflict, giving the mind a workout that strengthens its cognitive muscles.

Bilinguals, for instance, seem to be more adept than monolinguals at solving certain kinds of mental puzzles. In a 2004 study by the psychologists Ellen Bialystok and Michelle Martin-Rhee, bilingual and monolingual preschoolers were asked to sort blue circles and red squares presented on a computer screen into two digital bins — one marked with a blue square and the other marked with a red circle.

In the first task, the children had to sort the shapes by color, placing blue circles in the bin marked with the blue square and red squares in the bin marked with the red circle. Both groups did this with comparable ease. Next, the children were asked to sort by shape, which was more challenging because it required placing the images in a bin marked with a conflicting color. The bilinguals were quicker at performing this task.

The collective evidence from a number of such studies suggests that the bilingual experience improves the brain’s so-called executive function — a command system that directs the attention processes that we use for planning, solving problems and performing various other mentally demanding tasks. These processes include ignoring distractions to stay focused, switching attention willfully from one thing to another and holding information in mind — like remembering a sequence of directions while driving.

Why does the tussle between two simultaneously active language systems improve these aspects of cognition? Until recently, researchers thought the bilingual advantage stemmed primarily from an ability for inhibition that was honed by the exercise of suppressing one language system: this suppression, it was thought, would help train the bilingual mind to ignore distractions in other contexts. But that explanation increasingly appears to be inadequate, since studies have shown that bilinguals perform better than monolinguals even at tasks that do not require inhibition, like threading a line through an ascending series of numbers scattered randomly on a page.

The key difference between bilinguals and monolinguals may be more basic: a heightened ability to monitor the environment. “Bilinguals have to switch languages quite often — you may talk to your father in one language and to your mother in another language,” says Albert Costa, a researcher at the University of Pompeu Fabra in Spain. “It requires keeping track of changes around you in the same way that we monitor our surroundings when driving.” In a study comparing German-Italian bilinguals with Italian monolinguals on monitoring tasks, Mr. Costa and his colleagues found that the bilingual subjects not only performed better, but they also did so with less activity in parts of the brain involved in monitoring, indicating that they were more efficient at it.

The bilingual experience appears to influence the brain from infancy to old age (and there is reason to believe that it may also apply to those who learn a second language later in life).

In a 2009 study led by Agnes Kovacs of the International School for Advanced Studies in Trieste, Italy, 7-month-old babies exposed to two languages from birth were compared with peers raised with one language. In an initial set of trials, the infants were presented with an audio cue and then shown a puppet on one side of a screen. Both infant groups learned to look at that side of the screen in anticipation of the puppet. But in a later set of trials, when the puppet began appearing on the opposite side of the screen, the babies exposed to a bilingual environment quickly learned to switch their anticipatory gaze in the new direction while the other babies did not.

Bilingualism’s effects also extend into the twilight years. In a recent study of 44 elderly Spanish-English bilinguals, scientists led by the neuropsychologist Tamar Gollan of the University of California, San Diego, found that individuals with a higher degree of bilingualism — measured through a comparative evaluation of proficiency in each language — were more resistant than others to the onset of dementia and other symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease: the higher the degree of bilingualism, the later the age of onset.

Nobody ever doubted the power of language. But who would have imagined that the words we hear and the sentences we speak might be leaving such a deep imprint?

The New York Times Sunday Review

1st Annual Session THIMUN Latin America

 

14th - 16th August 2014 - The Hague International Model United Nations (THIMUN) - Official Host: The British Schools, Montevideo.

The 1st THIMUN – The Hague International Model United Nations – in Latin America will be hosted by The British Schools, Montevideo, in August 2014.  Amidst some very tough competition, The British Schools won their bid to become the first school in Latin America to host a THIMUN event. 

 

About Model United Nations

The Model United Nations is an academic simulation of the United Nations at a high school level.  Participants are given the task of representing a country on a specific UN committee. Delegates must draft statement policies, in accordance with their country’s stance, that express their position.  These resolutions propose answers to current international conflicts and issues. Delegates debate and put forward resolutions, which can later be amended through polling procedures. At the end of this process, a final draft of a resolution is voted upon in order to pass or reject it.

Earlier this year - on Saturday, 10th May, The British Schools played host to 130 delegates, committee chairs and directors from six local schools (The British Schools, Richard Anderson, Seminario, St Brendan’s, Stella Maris, and the Uruguayan American School). After the welcome speech by Mr. Alan Ripley, Principal, seven committee groups including the Security Council and Human Rights Committee debated actual United Nations issues like ‘The role of women in rural Latin America’. After two hours of reading statements, lobbying and voting, the students, all dressed in formal outfits, asked for an extra half an hour to finish off - even though it was past lunch time! Everybody enjoyed lunch together in the Pavilion before heading back to the Auditorium for closing speeches by Head of Senior - Iara Lindemann and The British School’s MUN Director Cecilia Pombo. There was consensus agreement that the conference was a real success, everybody who took part got intensely involved, learnt a great deal and generally enjoyed themselves.

 

About THIMUN

THIMUNThe Hague International Model United Nations (THIMUN) is a not-for-profit educational foundation that has links with the United Nations. Its objectives are to advance the interests of international education across national boundaries through the promotion of interaction and dialogue between young people from a variety of countries and school systems. To develop a global awareness among young people, focusing on the formulation of peaceful resolutions to world problems and practicing the communication skills which help foster this education in world citizenship.

#BringBackOurGirls

As you will be aware, in the last few days, Nigeria has become the focus of global attention. In the context of a breakdown in civil order in the remote North East of Nigeria, over 200 schoolgirls were kidnapped from their boarding school almost a month ago. In video messages which can only be described as “evil” (http://time.com/87658/boko-haram-nigeria-kidnapped-girls) the leader of the radical Islamic militants responsible for the kidnap has proclaimed that he would “.. sell the girls as slaves” , that they had “..converted to Islam”, and that “..they will never be returned unless militant prisoners are all released”. 

In response to this horror, a school in Colombia (http://www.englishschool.edu.co) a member of LAHC, initiated a campaign to publicise and support global campaign for the girls' release. The British Schools, together with 44 other British International Schools in South America – took up this campaign in the Senior School on Tuesday, 13th May by wearing something red for the day. 

Sporting Exchanges

For more than 30 years, The British Schools and the St. Andrew’s Scots School in Buenos Aires have been sharing sporting exchanges.  These exchanges include Rugby, Hockey and Basketball matches for Senior students and Rugby and Hockey matches for Junior students in Form 6.

These activities not only provide an opportunity for students to strengthen existing bonds of friendship and build new ones, they also promote teamwork, values and fair play, and enhance personal growth as well as physical development.

The Food and Behaviour Experiment

 It’s common to joke about children being on a sugar high after a party, so all of us know –on some level– that food influences how children behave. But how many of us realise the extent to which our children’s day-to-day actions are shaped and moulded by the foods we feed them? An experiment on the effects of food on behaviour done by the British TV series, The Food Hospital, produced shocking results. Party food loaded with sugar, artificial colouring, and other additives has the power to turn your lovely, cooperative child into a badly behaved, physically aggressive youngster. Children in Britain aged 5 – 9 attended a party. They were split into two groups:

Group One: was fed healthy options such as apple slices, carrot sticks, sandwiches, hummus, etc. and was given water to drink.
Group Two: received the usual party fair: candy, potato chips, and soda (or as they say in the UK, sweets, crisps, and fizzy pop), all containing loads of sugar, artificial colouring, and other.


Click Image to see video

 

The children’s ability to follow instruction, concentrate, and remember information was then measured as they played party games, and their actions were carefully recorded. You may be surprised by what they found. It wasn’t only how they behaved that was remarkably different. The healthy food group did “48% better in the games overall” – that’s a huge improvement in performance.

School ditches rules and loses bullies

School ditches rules and loses bullies. "The kids were motivated, busy and engaged. In my experience, the time children get into trouble is when they are not busy, motivated and engaged…”

Teacher Training and the School Day

ProfessionalGrowth New for 2014 - All academic investigations indicate that teacher quality is the leading factor in determining the quality of education offered. Accordingly, the School will take a number of half-days for teacher training and for meetings in 2014

 

 

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