Best Practice

Developing skills of resilience in your pupils

Promoting resilience is seen as key to helping pupils handle challenges to their mental health. But what are the tools that pupils really need? Expert Dr Pooky Knightsmith advises

In an environment where every day brings new headlines about mental health crises and a self-harm epidemic, it is vital we keep sight of what we can do to support the children and young people in our care.

Earlier this year, Kate Middleton said: “We cannot always change a child’s circumstances, but we can give them the tools to cope and thrive.”

In this article, I consider what those tools look like and how and when we should provide them.

When we talk about resilience, we’re essentially thinking about developing a young person’s “protective factors”. In much the same way that there are a range of risk factors that might put a young person more at risk of low attainment or mental health issues, there are protective factors that can help support against these. Some of these are beyond our control, but there are many that we can weave into our curriculum and provision of pastoral care.

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