Compassion in education

Services on offer

The main focus is on providing in-house initiatives for school staff and educators, school pupils, and students within Higher education. We will soon be offering single one-off sessions with staff, in which introductory materials and simple practices that can aid wellbeing are overviewed in a single CPD session.

The staff initiative aims to improve the wellbeing of both staff (and students) across primary and secondary schools. As part of the staff curriculum, we deliver an insightful programme to help those working in educational settings gain greater understanding of emotions – including emotion regulation in the brain and the body. We also share a variety of compassion-based practices to cultivate emotional well-being. Our initiative is based on the latest science and practices as devised by our teams of experts and others. The course comprises six 90-minute modules designed to be progressed over one school term or two half terms. Module content encompasses:

  • Definition of compassion

  • Exploration of emotions and the stress response

  • Building the compassionate mind

  • Using the compassionate mind to address stress

  • Using the compassionate mind to address self-criticism

  • Compassion, compassionate communication and compassionate flows: a whole school ethos/use in everyday life.

CMT-Teachers, developed by Professor Maratos and colleagues at the University, has now been trialled with over 600 educators across the UK and Portugal. Rigorous evaluation of its effectiveness has been published in international peer-reviewed journals and reveals the specific CPD to improve both psychological and physiological health. This includes improved emotion regulation, protection from burnt-out, anxiety and depression, increased compassion towards self and others, and better heart and cardiovascular functioning. CMT-Teachers, therefore, allows for an affordable approach to improving staff well-being, which can improve the classroom environment and pupil well-being/behaviour. Testimonials are available on request.

The pupil initiative aims to improve the wellbeing of students of both primary and secondary age (those in year 6 and 7). As part of the initiative, we have developed a six-session PSHE lesson series that helps pupils gain greater understanding of their own emotions – including how emotions work in the brain and the body. We also introduce a range of fun practices and exercises that are based upon our compassion-based ethos as well as positive psychology. Our initiative is based on the latest science and practices as devised by our teams of experts and others. Content of the sessions includes

  • Materials based upon understanding emotions (including difficult emotions of fear, anger and anxiety)
  • How we often experience mixes of emotions (the three circles model)
  • Practices that can be used to help understand and regulate such emotions
  • We also introduce practices that encourage calming and contented emotions, as well as a more positive mind-set and introduce the flow of compassion (i.e., compassion for self, compassion for others and compassion from others)

CMT-Pupils, developed by Professor Maratos and colleagues at the University, has now been trialled with over 200 UK pupils in Year 6 and Year 7 using randomised controlled trial designs. These trials have revealed the curriculum to improve feelings of social inclusion between pupils (and their teachers), allows children to better emotionally regulate, resulting in improved classroom behaviour; and protects children from increases in anxiety, self-perfectionism and self-criticism (all which are, or can, lead to serious mental health conditions). CMT-Pupils therefore allows for an affordable approach to improving pupil well-being.

To expand, per school, only a small number of individuals need to be trained in CMT-P curriculum delivery. Once trained, these individuals can then deliver CMT-P to all children in year 6 and/or year 7 in their school as part of SEAL/PSHE provision.

CMT-TT allows for educators or professionals to train in delivery of our rigorously evaluated CMT-Teachers (CMT-T) to improve the wellbeing, mental and physiological health of teachers across the education sector. This allows for an affordable approach to staff wellbeing as, per school or trust, only a small number of individuals need to be trained in CMT-TT to enable CMT-T to be delivered to further teachers, schools or across trusts/academies, as part of ongoing teacher training and CPD provision.

Content includes training and resources to deliver the 6-module Compassionate Mind Training -Teacher curriculum to staff working in the educational sector (and beyond) to improve their wellbeing, mental and physiological health. Course key components are described above in in the CMT-Teachers programme description.

The Higher Education (HE) student initiative arm aims to improve group functioning, along with feelings of wellbeing and group belonging in HE by embedding compassion in the taught curriculum. During this programme students are taught to understand the importance of compassionate communication skills (CCS) and the impact these skills can have on themselves and those around them. Students are taught to interact with one another through the lens of compassion, and to become more aware of their own communication style. Using video materials produced by Dr Harvey and Professor Maratos, they are also encouraged to reflect upon helpful and unhelpful group behaviours and, relatedly, techniques that all group members can use to help a group communicate and function more effectively.

Students who have engaged with the CCS approach report feeling more aware of the impact of their own communication style, including improved interactions with peers inside and outside of the classroom. Students who struggle to engage with group discussions have also reported feeling more supported and included, with staff observing clear benefits of the CCS curriculum regarding student inclusion and self-awareness. Our CCS research is published in peer-reviewed journals. Training in this curriculum will be available shortly.

Frances Maratos in the University

Professor Frances Maratos
Professor of Psychology and Affective Science

Frances Maratos’s research informs applied emotion regulation and wellbeing interventions worldwide. She is widely published and has excellent grant capture. Frances is currently Chair of the College of HPSC Research Committee. Her Professorial appointment reflects not only her international research profile but also her longstanding commitment to the University.

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Dr Caroline Harvey

Dr Caroline Harvey
Senior Lecturer in Psychology

Caroline teaches a range of undergraduate and postgraduate modules on our Psychology programmes. She supervises PhD students and is an active researcher. Caroline's research is focused on two broad areas and she leads on research concerning compassion in higher education and also works as part of a team that are interested in the links between nature and wellbeing.

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