PUPILS are being led through seven stages to enlightenment in an innovative approach to prepare them for the stresses and strains of modern life.

All year groups at Barnard Castle Preparatory School now end the day with headmistress Laura Turner connecting with their inner selves in a project designed to help them hang on to their childhoods by using their imaginations.

What started out as a voluntary mindfulness activity is now part of the curriculum at Barnard Castle Preparatory School for Years 1-6.

Last lesson of the day sees them guided through seven principle steps to wellbeing. These include moving and playing games before embracing stretches and controlled breathing exercises, followed by personal affirmations and a relaxation story, all with a thematic approach.

At senior school, all students take part in end-of-the-day, hour-long sessions to exercise their mind, bodies and souls, compulsory activities ranging from chess, languages and public speaking to sport, cooking and gardening.

Pupils and parents can discover more about the novel approach to learning as Barnard Castle Preparatory, Senior School and Sixth Form open their doors to the public on October 5, from 9.30am to 11.30am. For more information contact admissions@barneyschool.org.ukor phone (01833) 696030.

“Modern day society encourages children to be older before they are ready,” said Mrs Turner. “We are trying to help them hold on to their childhood, creativity and imaginations for as long as possible. If you can achieve the right balance, keeping pupils on an even keel, then children can be children for longer.”

She said “research showed at many schools high levels of stress and worry among increasingly younger children, exacerbated by excessive homework demands, SATS and digital devices, which was lowering their self-esteem”

“They often wake up in the morning and their heads are like snow-globes of confusion,” said Mrs Turner.

“We have designed a curriculum and a raft of enrichment activities that allow pupils to learn and flourish while still enjoying their childhoods. And instead of SATS they complete an array of fascinating projects throughout Year 6 to gain a much more valuable, rewarding and relevant Achievement Award.

“They are children and should not have to worry, feel under pressure or suffer anxiety. With the wellness sessions, if they do feel anxious in the future, they will be able to think back to their lessons and restore their calm.”