In the week in which we celebrated World Mental Health Day, it is important to reflect and consider how we can help our pupils become more resilient. In our school assembly this week, Miss Lockwood and Mr Brodie spoke about the joy and pleasure of reading a book (rather than reading a screen). The other interesting consideration: what does this pleasure bring? This week, the National Literacy Trust reported on some work they have doing with a children’s mental health charity, Place2be and their research shows that children who enjoy reading are three times more likely to have better mental wellbeing compared to those who do not. I suppose the question which springs to my mind is what are teenagers doing if they do not easily take to reading? Where are the positive correlations? Psychology Today is pretty unequivocal. It shows the activities correlated with happiness (green) and unhappiness (red) in American teenagers:


As Schools we have to constantly encourage social interactions and ‘doing things with others’ which is why we are so proud (and excited!) about House Music in week 8. Not surprisingly, teachers and parents alike do question why we stop the curriculum to allow House Music to take place. At its most fundamental singing and singing together is also strongly linked with strong mental health. A recent piece of research (reported on by the BBC) showed that singing released dopamine, the feel-good chemical in your brain. This effect is even stronger when we consider the ‘Sing Your Heart Out’ project which shows that people who are part of a choir are even more likely to avoid significant mental health problems. We must also remember the intangible benefits of House Music: by bringing the community together, young and old, tone deaf alongside choristers, we soon realise that anyone can contribute; that no-one is rejected when they are part of a group. This inclusive approach permeates everything we do: Taunton School is a home from home and children who feel and assimilate our special culture, thrive. Bravo!

Ed Burnett
Deputy Headmaster