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Building Resilient Learners Project

Project: Building Resilient Learners (BRL) project. A collaboration between Sidmouth College, The University of Exeter and Five Areas Ltd, this project was funded by the NESTA Future Ready Fund. The aim of this project was to test whether an emotional health and wellbeing intervention can be effective in improving pupils’ wellbeing and resilience.

Target group: Year 7 students scoring low on the Stirling Wellbeing Scale (SWS). At baseline, a total of n=409 completed the measures; n=199 wait-list control, n=210 intervention. This included n=165 male (40%), n=227 Female (56%), n = 17 non-binary/other/missing (4%).

Settings: Thirteen schools in Somerset, Devon and Dorset, England participated in the project. The intervention took place in the school premises, sessions were delivered by teachers who had been trained in the approach.

Intervention: The intervention, called ‘My Big Life’, is a six-week series of classes based on cognitive behaviour therapy principles. Each session lasted for one hour per week and was delivered as a life-skills lesson to a class of up to 20 students. The sessions aimed to develop pupils’ emotional wellbeing and provide them with strategies to cope with difficult emotions and situations, with the help of various worksheets, a reflective journal and tension control training.


  • Wellbeing (WEMWBS) increased in the intervention group, but not control group, giving a large effect size.
  • Statistically significant improvement in resilience (SRS) scores in the intervention group, giving a medium effect size.

What else?

Reflective journals were recorded daily for the intervention group. Pupils were asked to provide a brief statement on ‘What’s going on?’, ‘How did it affect you?’ and ‘What did you do differently?’. Overall, 67% of pupils stated they had done something differently. The most common action taken was ‘staying calm’ and ‘saying sorry’. Pupils also reported that they ‘did their homework’ and talked to a parent or friends.

Full report:

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