Health and wellbeing is firmly embedded within the Scottish Government’s Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) as a responsibility for all. It is strongly endorsed throughout all schools, in order to support a curriculum of high-quality learning and teaching that develops successful learners, confident individuals, effective contributors and responsible citizens (Scottish Government 2008). In order for pupils to be able to apply themselves to the learning experiences and get the most out of them, they require a certain level of focus. This enables them to retain and consolidate the learning and teaching they are experiencing. In addition to this, a successful learning environment requires minimal disruptions so that pupils can fully concentrate on educational content.
According to Kabat-Zinn (2003, p.145), mindfulness can be defined as “the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally, to the unfolding of experience moment by moment”. Mindfulness has recently begun to become accepted as a practice which can have a positive effect on overall mental and physical wellbeing, with many studies showing this to be true (McIntyre 2018). It is implied that many of the benefits of mindfulness are perpetrated by its effect on attention; whilst collaborating with probationer colleagues it became apparent that many frustrations were driven by pupils’ lack of focus and readiness to learn upon arriving into the classroom. With the pressures and stress of home and school being prominent in classrooms across both primary and secondary settings, mindfulness has been introduced to many schools as a way of supporting learners’ social and emotional learning (Schrodt 2019). Therefore, it seemed clear that the introduction of a mindful pause to begin a period of learning was an area of interest to all colleagues. Driven by this mutual interest we decided that it would be pertinent to investigate the effect of mindfulness within the classroom.
The aims of this enquiry were to investigate the impact of a daily mindful pause on learners, their readiness to learn and ability to focus in the classroom.