BGS strives for happiness

20th March 2017

To understand the true benefits of being open about well-being and mental health in schools, you have to hear it through the voices of pupils, parents, teachers and staff.

This is why Bradford Grammar School (BGS) launched ‘Spotlight on Happiness’ today to coincide with International Day of Happiness. The online public video resource is tailored for children, young people and adults to learn about well-being in school and why it’s so important.

In tandem with the government’s pledge of £1.25 billion to improve children and young people’s mental health services, the Department of Health and NHS England published ‘Future in mind’, with a proposal to encourage schools to continue to develop ‘whole school approaches’ to promoting emotional well-being and mental health.

‘Spotlight on Happiness’ focusses on this ‘whole school approach’ and features an in-depth look across ‘Well-being and Mental Health’, ‘Creativity and the Arts’, ‘Community Outreach and Enrichment’, ‘Sport and Healthy Living’ and ‘Personalised Teaching’.

BGS Headmaster, Simon Hinchliffe explains how the campaign came about:

“We are acutely aware that members of the public, young people, parents and teachers all have important stories to tell about happiness and well-being in School, and in their everyday lives. We want to play our part by sharing our voices, through this public resource, to benefit everyone, not just the few, and to help raise awareness within our local community, Yorkshire and nationwide.”

Over 100 people in the school took part in the campaign including pupils, parents, teachers and staff members.

One of the featured pupils Maariah Hussain from Bradford, said: “It’s the all-round environment that makes me happy at BGS; the local community, the art on the walls, the sports facilities, the friendly faces, the general encouragement not to be embarrassed about working hard – everyone is on the same page.”

Jane Chapman, Assistant Head (Pastoral) talks about the BGS approach: “We’re here to educate the whole child and look to producing children who are happy and feel valued and supported. Well-being is a prerequisite of academic excellence, and the emphasis we place on pastoral care, pupil welfare and the value of our parents is integral to who we are.”

According to a new landmark study, led by a team of researchers at the London School of Economics (LSE), the strongest factor predicting a happy adult life is not children’s qualifications but their emotional health. Lord Richard Layard, wo led the report, said: “There is also powerful evidence that schools have a big impact on children’s emotional health, and which school a child goes to will affect their emotional well-being as much as it affects their exam performance.”

Lorcan Hanafin, 14 from Guiseley, also featured says: “We’re lucky that BGS has an open door policy and they want you to do well and have successful lives and careers, but they know that means more than just being academically successful. I also think it’s really important to talk specifically about mental health and well-being, with relatives or close friends where you can, and we’re encouraged to do that at School.”

Recent figures from NHS data show that nearly a quarter of a million children and young people were in contact with mental health services for problems such as anxiety, depression and eating disorders – highlighting the scale of the growing crisis in young people’s mental health. We also know that these contributing factors can increase the likelihood of mental health problems with three-quarters of problems in adults starting in childhood.

Lorcan reflects: “I’m more confident with myself because if something did happen to me then I know that there would be people at BGS who are more than willing to talk to me and listen. The visiting speakers also really help us to understand and raise awareness. Now I feel like I can recognise symptoms and feel more confident about how to talk to other pupils and adults about it, and help people where I can.”

Eleanor Crookes, aged 8 from Shipley talks about her experience of taking part in ‘Spotlight on happiness’: “It was really fun being on camera and getting to talk about what I love at school and talk about playing the Cello, the camera people were very nice to me!”

As well as watching interviews with parents, pupils and staff describing what happiness means to them, visitors can view links to useful websites and resources (including charities and other associations), and get key statistics on what constitutes one of the most important things in our everyday lives. 

Visit to find out more.

Follow ‘Spotlight on Happiness’ on Twitter via #bgshappiness