Healthy Minds Research Project - Bounce Forward

Healthy Minds Research Project

Bounce Forward researched a resilience-based PSHE curriculum with 11,000 students in 34 schools over 5 years, the project is called Healthy Minds. Funded by the Education Endowment Foundation and run in partnership with the London School of Economics, the largest ever study of its kind shows the impact of good quality teaching and learning on important outcomes. The curriculum is now available to all schools.

As seen on the BBC.


The mission

More and more we worry about the mental health of our teenagers. As surveys show, their emotional health is worsening. And their behavioural problems are increasing.

These are problems that schools can influence. For schools make almost as much difference to the emotional health and behaviour of their students as to their academic achievement. So how can schools teach wellbeing?

While young people’s life skills are strongly influenced by the ethos of the school, there also needs to be at least one hour a week of dedicated and specific teaching of life skills. In order to do this well, teachers need to be trained in a fully professional way.


The solution

To remedy this, researchers funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation scoured the world for the best well-tested materials for teaching secondary school pupils in:

  • Resilience
  • Social and emotional learning
  • Relationships and sex education
  • Healthy habits
  • Social media awareness
  • Mental illness
  • Parenting
  • Mindfulness

From this research Bounce Forward worked with Professor John Coleman, an expert in adolescent development, to design a four-year curriculum for years 7-10, consisting of weekly lessons of one hour each. For each lesson there are detailed teaching and learning resources, written support for teachers, as well as dedicated teacher training. The whole curriculum reflects the teachings of “positive psychology”: it focuses on building strengths rather than attacking weaknesses, and on what is worth doing rather than on what to avoid.

The structure of the curriculum is shown in the diagram below. No such programme on this scale has ever been tested in the world. These are important subjects to teach and other programmes have failed due to the lack of teacher training. So one key feature of the course is that the teachers have to be trained before teaching each element of the curriculum.

In devising the curriculum, we had high ambitions – of supplying what teachers all over the world have been looking for. But this could only be verified by a ‘randomised controlled trial’.


Click sections to reveal more.

  • Sample schools

    Bounce Forward’s first task was to find first task was to find 34 state schools, largely in deprived areas, that wanted to teach the programme – several schools large enough to give reliable estimates of the effects of the course. The schools were then randomly divided into two groups. The schools were drawn from a wide range of local authorities from Wolverhampton to Kent, and the trial ran from 2013 to 2017 or 2014 to 2018, depending on when the school joined the experiment.

  • Methodology 

    To help assess the impact of the course, students completed a detailed wellbeing questionnaire before and after completing the 4-year Healthy Minds curriculum. The results were measured against a control group of students who were the same age and completed the same questionnaires but were not taught Healthy Minds.

  • Outcomes

    In reporting the effects of the course, The London School of Economics focus on focus on five outcomes. The first is ‘global health’, which was the primary outcome named before the trial began. This is captured by asking pupils ‘In general, how would you say your health is? Next, we look at the most commonly used measure of wellbeing worldwide, which is life satisfaction: ‘Overall, how satisfied are you with your life nowadays?’ The other three outcomes are created from twelve questions at capture various dimensions of physical health, emotional health and behaviour.

  • Feedback

    The schools reported enormous enthusiasm from staff and students alike, and all the schools have gone on teaching Healthy Minds to each subsequent year’s entry to school – a real vote of confidence.

    Healthy Mind’s Case Study Report – Final May 2019


These results include the effects on every group of students that a school signed up to teach, whether they were well or badly taught, or occasionally not taught consistently throughout. These are the effects after four years of teaching, and incorporate results measured on average two years after the material was taught.

The trial showed that the course works. This shows how far an average pupil has increased their percentage ranking as a result of the course when compared with other pupils nationwide.

Listen to what experts, students and teachers have to say

Bounce Forward has worked with teachers and experts to turn Healthy Minds into a practical solution that is now available to all schools


“Maths, English and Science help me succeed in school. Healthy Minds helps me thrive in life.”

Healthy Minds Student 

Year 9

Bounce Forward have worked with teachers and experts to turn Healthy Minds into a practical solution that is now available to all schools


“Young people need Healthy Minds and schools should make it a top priority. It’s the most outstanding wellbeing curriculum in the world!” 

Lord Richard Layard

London School of Economics

“The results speak for themselves and the stories about the positive impact on individuals are truly heart-warming, all students need Healthy Minds. This unique study highlights the importance of good quality teacher training and the many benefits of delivering a resilience-based curriculum.”

Lucy Bailey

CEO, Bounce Forward

“Over the past 5 years Healthy Minds has really helped my year group understand each other’s feelings a lot better, it has helped us look at situations in-depth rather than just what they are on the surface.”

Healthy Minds Student 

Year 11

“If we look at academic achievement, fixed-term exclusions, and attendance, there is a difference between the students who had the Healthy Minds programme and those who have not.”

Julie Collins

Headteacher, The Leigh Academy

“I have been resilient by coping because last year my Mum died. Healthy Minds has helped me because it has shown me how to act and overcome obstacles.”

Healthy Minds Student 

Year 8

“Delivering Healthy Minds allows students to gain a better understanding of the problems they will face in life and provides them a toolkit to deal with them. All the lessons are relevant to modern adolescent life.”

Stuart Lindars

Deputy Head, The Leigh Academy

“My resilience lessons have made me a calmer person, I don’t catastrophise as much anymore. I was snappy to make decisions in the past; it has helped me to slow down and assess situations.”

Healthy Minds Student 

Year 11

“I have learnt how to act differently in lessons, it has helped me be more mature.”

Healthy Minds Student 

Year 8