Researchers at the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) are to begin a new study exploring the impact of racism on the mental health and wellbeing of 10 to 11-year olds.
The project, funded by the mental health research network Emerging Minds, is the first one of its kind in the UK; the children will be the youngest research participants to share their experiences of this important issue, which is believed to significantly impact young people’s mental health.
The aim is to explore opportunities to respond to children’s experiences of racism and develop positive identity through embedding this within teacher training.
Over the next 12 months, education, teacher training and psychology researchers from UWE Bristol will work in conjunction with two primary schools in the city. The experienced team will complete pupil surveys, work with a local socially-engaged artist (who specialises in community projects) to design and deliver art-based workshops, as well as conduct interviews with class teachers.
In addition, the researchers will investigate how initial teacher training (ITE) programmes can help prepare student teachers to engage with these sensitive issues as they head into classrooms in the future. A teaching toolkit will be co-designed with young people and local experts, delivered to and then evaluated by student teachers at UWE Bristol.
The project will involve collaboration with existing networks in the city, including Black and Green Ambassadors, Thrive group leaders from schools across Bristol and representatives from Bristol City Council (One Bristol Curriculum), from which an expert advisory group will be formed to provide comment on the project’s plans and toolkit.
Dr Verity Jones, lead researcher and senior lecturer in ITE at UWE Bristol, said: “This project will begin to fill a gap in current research about mental health and racism in primary school age children. We know their experiences and how it impacts their identity may be different to that of adults, and these young voices haven’t been heard, yet.
“We’re very grateful to the Bristol schools taking part in this project; they’ll play a valuable role in helping to shape initial teacher training programmes and the young people will co-design a creative and engaging teaching toolkit which will aim to develop teacher training and better prepare newly qualified teachers.”
The Emerging Minds Network is one of eight Mental Health Networks set up by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to bring researchers, charities and other organisations together to address important mental health research questions.