Healthy Minds

Healthy Minds is a unique research project that CYPN_016_023contributes to our understanding of how students can be supported to develop emotional resilience and self efficacy alongside their academic development. The aim is to teach lessons as part of the core curriculum that will enable students to navigate the world within and beyond school and to thrive and flourish.

The Healthy Minds study is tracking 11,000 students from 31 secondary schools over four years.  However access to the curriculum is available to schools beyond the project. Schools not involved in the research can choose the curriculum as a whole or any of the individual elements can be taught as stand alone lessons.

Healthy Minds Curriculum

Each component of the curriculum has been rigorously evaluated and found to have significant effects, or is evidence-informed and developed from the latest guidance and best practice. Our belief is that the combined weight of all these components, along with the regular time and space in school to develop knowledge and practise skills, will result in significant positive effects for students and schools.

The curriculum has been developed in-line with adolescent development and the reality of life for students in and beyond school. The design has ensured that every element:

  • Builds on the previous and is relevant and directed by student input.                               Contents Page
  • Is taught applying a wide range of teaching and learning styles.
  • Offers realistic, age appropriate and relevant information.
  • Encourages students to reflect and practise what they learn.
  • Meets and exceeds the personal, social, health education requirement.

The curriculum is relevant and practical and helps students to understand themselves and others.   The wide range of transferrable skills and strategies increase social, personal competence and thus improve the opportunities for social mobility and employability. Students will understand how to feel good and function well through established habits, useful for life.

We have designed a book that sets out the curriculum journey, detailing each of the elements. Click here to download a copy of the Healthy Minds Curriuclum Journey.

The Student Experience

Year 7 – Managing the World Around me

During year 7 students develop the cognitive and behavioural skills required to make the most of opportunities and deal with setbacks. These foundational skills will be relevant now and transferable beyond school. Next students apply the skills to navigating the media and social media. Finally they learn to harness the potential of their mind and increase their attentional skills using mindfulness.

Year 8 – Moving Toward My Future

During year 8 students consider who they are now and who they hope to be as adults. They learn to set realistic goals that matter to them and bring the future nearer, so that they can see that what they do now in school is directly connected to what they want for their future.  In this context they then think about the influences around them and debate social norms and myths about nutrition, health, body images, tobacco, alcohol and illegal drugs.  Towards the end of the year they explore how their bodies are changing and how to create and sustain healthy relationships.

Year 9 – Taking Control of the Decisions I Make

In year 9 students build their learning and apply their new skills to developing positive relationships and consider the risks associated with unhealthy relationships. They discuss the health and emotional implications of sexual relationships and debate the impact of alcohol use and misuse. Using the skills and knowledge they gained in Years 7 and 8, the focus is on making good decisions as life becomes more complicated.  They also learn about mental illness and how to recognise it in themselves and the people around them.  The stigma that surrounds mental illness and when and how to seek help if needed is also explored.

Year 10 – The Beginning of Adulthood

During year 10 students learn to understand their own emotions and how to manage them.  In particular they will consider their values and levels of maturity as their relationships develop and explore the responsibilities of being a parent.  They also engage in a more mature debate about making informed choices about substance use.  The lessons will provide an opportunity to reinforce learning by revisiting and applying the skills developed to situations that are relevant now and in the future.

Overview of the Curriculum as a Whole

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Year 7 Curriculum Elements

Click on the title for a synopsis of the element that can also be taught as a set of stand alone lessons.

Penn Resilience Programme - The next training will be held on 2nd, 3rd, 4th, then 9th, 10th November 2015.

Media Navigator - The next training will be held on 28th September 2015

.breathe - the next training date will be announced soon for early 2016. 

Year 8 Curriculum Elements

Click on the title for a synopsis of the element that can also be taught as a set of stand alone lessons.

From School to Life - The next training will be held on 6th July 2016.

Unplugged - The next training for Unplugged Part One will be held on the 17th November 2015.

Media Influences  - The next training will be held on the 18th November 2015.

Sex Ed Sorted and Relationship Smarts (See Year 9 for full details) - The next training for Sex Ed Sorted Part One and Relationships Smarts will be held on the  16th March 2016. 

Year 9 Curriculum Elements

Relationship Smarts Continued - The next training will be held on the 17th March 2016.

School Health Alcohol Harm Reduction Project (SHAHRP) - The next training will be held on 13th October 2015.

Sex Ed Sorted - The next training for Sex Ed Sorted Part Two will be held on the 8th Dec 2015.

Science of Mental Illness - The next training date will be around February 2016 and posted here soon. 

Year 10 Curriculum Elements

MoodGYM - The next training will be held on the 7th June 2016.

Unplugged - The next training for Unplugged Part Two will be held on the 14th June 2016.

Parent Under Construction - The next training will be held on the 8th February 2017.

Resilience Revisited - The next training will be held on the 9th May 2017

Partners, Organisations, and Colleagues Involved in Healthy Minds

EEF Hi-Res Full Colour Logo

The Education Endowment Foundation (EFF) has provided the funding to How to Thrive to lead, design and deliver the project.


2013 logoThe EEF have comissioned the National Institute of Economic and Social Research to deliver the academic element of the research and project evaluation.


How to Thrive are directing the overall project, designing the curriculum, supporting schools, supporting the data collection   arrangements and leading and/or delivering all the necessary training elements.

  • Lucy Bailey is Project Director
  • Emma Judge is Psychological Lead to Curriculum Design and Training Lead
  • Hollie McNamara is Project Support Officer

We are delighted to have the support from leading experts from the field including;

  • Professor John Coleman as the Academic Lead to Curriculum Design
  • James O’Shaughnessy as the National Policy Lead
  • Joe Hayman (CEO of the PSHE Association) as the Professional Lead

LSE logoThe London School of Economics are partners on the project and provding the lead research role.

  • Lord Richard Layard is figurehead to the project and Chair of the Project Steering Group
  • Professor Alistair McQuire is Research Lead
  • Grace Logan is Health Research Analysist

The project offers extended thanks to Hertfordshire Public Health and their Director Jim McManus for a funding contribution of £25,000 toward the baseline of the health research.


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