Pupils who have completed a ground-breaking wellbeing course at St Davids’ Ysgol Dewi Sant have been recognised for their achievements.

At a special assembly Game of Thrones and Ripper Street star Jerome Flynn handed out certificates to year 10 and 11 pupils who have completed the school’s eight week mindfulness course under the guidance of trainer Elizabeth Daniels .

Mindfulness is a set of techniques based around breathing and awareness which help practitioners focus on the present moment, cutting out internal dialogue and thoughts about the past and future. It has proved effective in treating depression and promoting positive mental health.

“It is paying attention to your experience, as it unfolds moment by moment, with the attitude of curiosity and acceptance,” said Elizabeth.

“Here at the school there is a really open attitude and great ethos of looking after the children. They were positive about mindfulness and willing to take the risk of running the course for both staff and students.”

That risk paid off; pupils say that the techniques have helped them in a myriad of ways both in and out of the classroom.

“It has really helped in lessons and with home stuff,” said year 11 student Cody Thomas. “We even taught it to our maths teacher as she was getting really stressed. She used it to calm the class down. Every time she did it the lesson went amazingly.”

“You can apply it to everyday life,” added her class mate Sam Bramley. “If you can’t sleep you can use it to calm your mind down. It turns off all the traffic in your brain, all the thoughts that you don’t want to think about.”

Other year 11 students said that practicing mindfulness had helped them with health and emotional issues and to focus on exams.

Headteacher David Haynes said that mindfulness was now part of a culture and climate that permeated every aspect of school life.

“The mindfulness course gives some strategies that that will always be with you for the rest of your lives to deal with some of the pressures of the world today,” he told students.

He said that that mindfulness had become an underpinning aspect of the school’s culture and had contributed to outcomes at Ysgol Dewi Sant improving by 13% in the last year.

Jerome Flynn added: “I’m very excited by what is happening here and how much has happened in a year at the school. Just to come in here and see how staff and kids are together is an inspiration. There is an awareness and togetherness here and I’m very happy to be supporting it.”

The pioneering project is now helping to set the wellbeing agenda on both a county wide and a national level.

In Pembrokeshire 21 schools have signed up and Elizabeth has recently been to Westminster to talk about mindfulness in education.

“There has been a phenomenal uptake of mindfulness in schools in Pembrokeshire,” she said. “Politicians are looking at best practice in the whole of Great Britain to set future policy and Pembrokeshire is a shining example. This is a feather in the cap for Pembrokeshire.”