How to make a happy school

For children’s mental health week, the School of Psychology helped Kent school children create their own happiness research projects! Pictured above is Hugo Bowles, a post-graduate research assistant working on the project.

This year marks the eighth annual Children’s Mental Health Week since its launch in 2015 by PlaceToBe. As part of this event, Dr Lindsey Cameron and Professor Heather Ferguson, and student researchers Hugo Bowles and Abigail Pitt, teamed up with Hernhill Church of England Primary School in Faversham to deliver their previously successful project, entitled How to Make a Happy School. 

The unique outreach project assists children and young people in developing social science research skills, as well as social and emotional literacy.

It has previously been successfully delivered to various partner schools, engaging young people of all ages and backgrounds in developing their own happiness survey. The School of Psychology hopes to continue this project beyond Children’s Mental Health Week as well, with the intention of improving access to Psychology knowledge and research skills to many schools across Kent.  

The Morning’s Events 

At Hernhill, Dr Lindsey Cameron and Professor Heather Ferguson kicked off the morning with an engaging talk about why happiness is important, what makes us happy, and how to measure happiness. There were many opportunities for the students and teachers to get involved in role-playing happiness research too – queue Mexican waves and synchronised walking.  

Following the assembly talk, the children went back to their classes and were assisted by the researchers in creating the questions for their own psychological surveys. Here, the students learned about the different kinds of questions and response options commonly employed in social sciences surveys, and how to make age-appropriate questions for the whole school.  

Through classroom-based group activities, the children formed their own questions to pose for their fellow students that felt meaningful in relation to the happiness of their school and community. At the end of the morning activities, the researchers collected the children’s favourite questions and are now in the process of creating the students’ own online survey. This will be completed by many students across the whole school.  

Interested in Involving your Child’s School?  

University of Kent’s School of Psychology are currently inviting schools to apply for the How to Make a Happy School project. If you are interested in involving your child’s school, please contact Dr Lindsey Cameron at for more information!