Promoting children’s physical development, wellbeing and attainment with Psychomotor Prevention
Mental health and wellbeing is currently a popular topic in the news. The demand for wellbeing interventions in schools to prevent mental health problems is omnipresent. This is due to overwhelming number of pupils, displaying difficulties regulating emotions. According to the Department for Education: “One in ten children and young people aged 5 to 16 has a clinically diagnosed mental health disorder and around one in seven has less severe problems. (Mental health and behaviour in schools. Departmental Advice for school staff. March 2016).
The problem presents itself already in nurseries, with children unable to follow instructions because they are incapable of focusing, don’t interact or engage because they cannot speak or play.
Psychomotor not only offers support for those children, displaying such problems, but also acts as resilient booster to prevent mental health issues from occurring. A study carried out in a large primary school in a deprived area of the Midlands confirmed that nursery children with social, emotional mental health problems, who attend Psychomotor Prevention improved not only their physical development and emotional wellbeing but also speech & language measurably more than pupils not attending. A control group confirmed the impact.
Key points from the evidence
- Emotional wellbeing increased, evidenced in less avoidance behaviour, improved motivation to “have a go” and increased attendance.
- Pupil with social, emotional mental health issues improved their motor skills by average 185% compare to pupils without SEMH issues who increased by 72%.
- Speech & language skills increased by average score of 2.3 compare to children not attending, who increased by average of 1.0.
- SEN children were successfully integrated and improved their development significantly more than in common interventions.
Public Health England confirms the importance of supporting children in the Early Years: “There is very strong evidence that investment in promoting the emotional wellbeing and mental health of parents and children notably in the pre-school years and throughout the school aged years, can avoid health and social problems later in life.” (Public Health England. School age years 5- 19. High impact area 1: Resilience and emotional wellbeing).
Public Health England recognises that fundings are best spent in the Early Years since preventative interventions reduce behaviour problems, which counteracts towards spendings for high risk pupils in KS2 and high schools. Psychomotor Prevention is therefore a highly effective Pupil Premium or Sport Premium spending.
Why Psychomotor interventions? Psychomotor activities are set up in challenging movement landscapes within the school setting. Children’s ability to “do it themselves” is supported, enabling experiences of success. This boosts the children’s self efficacy (I can do it) and resilience (not giving up), which consequently improves learning attitude and attainment. This child-lead approach is unique differing from common interventions because it boosts the child's confidence by giving responsibility, rather then instructing a certain activity. Public Health England recognises the impact of this confirming, that “...pupils with better health and wellbeing are likely to achieve better academically”.
(Report from Public Health England: The link between pupil health and wellbeing and attainment. November 2014).
The outlined study provides not only evidence of the interventions effectiveness but also shows a cost-effective way to prevent mental health issues in school. It is highly recommended to train staff to implement Psychomotor Prevention especially in the Early Years, also in all other key stages. This contributes towards effectively closing the achievement gap of disadvantaged pupils and prevents further behaviour problems and mental health issues from occurring.