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Meditation's what they need, says headteacher

State schools specialising in transcendental meditation could open in England under proposals being developed for two new academies, TES Cymru can reveal.

If the plans come to fruition, all pupils will meditate twice a day in a bid to reach an inner peace, which followers say will lead to increased creativity and improved intelligence.

Derek Cassells, head of the private Maharishi School in Ormskirk, Lancashire - the only specialist transcendental meditation school in the country - has held meetings with the Government about the possibility of sponsoring two academies.

"I'm certain that transcendental meditation can work on a bigger scale," Mr Cassells said.

"The key factor is that the meditation brings balance to the nervous system. This leads to greater creativity, intelligence and harmony, and better behaviour."

Pupils in the proposed academies would undertake two 10-minute meditation sessions a day, one in the morning and another in the afternoon. They would involve pupils sitting quietly at their desks with their eyes closed.

Mr Cassells said there was no religious aspect to the meditation and the schools would operate an open admissions policy for children of all faiths or none.

"The whole understanding of this is that effective education begins with neurological and physiological balance," he said.

"The best way to achieve that is with inner quietness, called restful alertness. TM is an effective way for children to create neurological balance and do better in school."

Professor Dylan Wiliam, deputy director of the Institute of Education in London, said encouraging children to be calm could help their learning, but he was worried about the hype around meditation.

"It's not a bad thing to get kids calm and focused, but that could be done with TM, yoga or just getting children to read for 10 minutes," he said.

A spokesman from the Department for Children, Schools and Families said plans for a transcendental meditation academy would be judged on whether they could improve educational standards.

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