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Monday, 18 February, 2002, 13:54 GMT
Pupils meditate before lessons
School children
The children were "negative, angry and anxious"
Schoolchildren are being given meditation sessions to help curb bad behaviour.

Education officials in Portsmouth are spending about 500,000 on the scheme which also offers pupils sessions in anger management.

The idea came as the result of a desperate appeal for help from six headteachers in the city.

Cheryl Buggy, director of the Discovery Project, said: "The heads said the children were negative, angry and anxious and this wasn't a conducive atmosphere for learning."

It makes children feel good about themselves

Kim Wilcocks, Head of Portsdown Primary School

Ms Buggy is trained in psychology and was convinced the problems stemmed from a lack of "emotional intelligence".

She said: "Negativity is endemic in this country. Improving your emotional intelligence makes you more positive, healthier and you're able to control negative feelings. It's just common sense."

Classes now often start and end with meditation and there are weekly sessions where children are encouraged to write down their thoughts in a diary.

"The school is now a calmer, happier place but the most important thing about the project is that it makes children feel good about themselves," said Kim Wilcocks, headteacher of Portsdown Primary School.

The schools participating are: King Richard School and Paulsgrove Primary in Paulsgrove; Portsdown Primary and Medina Primary in Cosham and Saxon Shore Infant School in Portsdown Road and Westfield Junior School in Jubilee Avenue.

The BBC's James Westhead
"It is an unique approach to a common problem"

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See also:

17 Aug 01 | Wales
Meditating against pain
10 Jul 01 | Health
Prisoners benefit from meditation
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