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Supporting The Well Being of Girls

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Girls might have been out-performing boys academically for the last 20 years, but there’s rising concern about the social and emotional pressures being heaped on them.

Now a psychologist at the University of East London has developed a programme to help teachers focus on the specific problems faced by their female pupils.

Concerns have been growing, in particular, about the sexualisation of girls and the impact that this has on self-esteem, attitudes and behaviour within relationships and achievement. Issues such as bullying, self-image and depression have also become hot topics.

Dr Tina Rae, a consultant educational psychologist and UEL lecturer, has established a programme and a resource for teachers called ‘Supporting the Well Being of Girls’.

The programme offers teachers in upper primary and secondary schools, 16 tailored, expert sessions which engage girls and young women in tackling and addressing some of their key concerns and issues.

Areas covered include, body image and appearance; bullying; mental health, anxiety and depression; relationships; self-harm; stress; and healthy living.

A 2007 report by the American Psychological Association’s task force on the sexualisation of girls concluded that it was vital for psychologists, educators, and carers to work together to encourage the development of curricula which enhance self-esteem based upon young people’s abilities and character, rather than their appearance. It’s a challenge that Dr Rae took up.

“When I was the Educational Psychologist attached to a Pupil Referral Unit I developed my first girl’s intervention,” she reveals.  “I was inspired to continue this work by the girls themselves who were so empowered by having the opportunity to discuss their issues and concerns without having the boys around!

Tina went on to do further research in this area, using focus groups of 30 schoolgirls in years 6 and 10 asking them questions such as:

  • How could schools help young girls to be safer and happier?
  • Is it important for women to work and have a career?
  • Should women be financially independent of men?
  • How do the images you see in the press and on TV make you feel?
  • Who are your role models and why?

From this research Dr Rae established her programme. It aims to promote well-being by building positive relationships within a nurturing and child-centred approach, and builds upon resilience and protective factors within school.

Find out more details about Supporting The Wellbeing of Girls

Notes to Editors

The University of East London (UEL) is a global learning community with students from over 120 countries world-wide. Our vision is to achieve recognition, both nationally and internationally, as a successful and inclusive regional university proud of its diversity, committed to new modes of learning which focus on students and enhance their employability, and renowned for our contribution to social, cultural and economic development, especially through our research and scholarship. We have a strong track-record in widening participation and working with industry.