All you've got to do is smile

4th January 2008 at 00:00
If teachers are happy, then their pupils will be happy too. That leads to improved learning and better results. More importantly, it makes school a sociable and relaxed place, full of positive relationships. I attended The Secrets of Happy Schools, a course that taught us about the science of happiness and how endorphins change the way we feel.

Alistair Smith and Sir John Jones, the two speakers, were inspirational. Normally I make lots of notes on a course, but this time I was too carried away by what was being said.

A happy school is one where people are free to express themselves. That's why we have set up a learning and teaching council, to give the pupils more of a say in how they are taught and the way that their school is structured.

I also got the staff together and asked them to draw self-portraits, representing how they think they are seen by the pupils. Then we talked about how working life can sometimes be a treadmill, but how openness and empathy can make a difference.

Happiness spreads very easily. A colleague emailed me recently to say thank you for smiling at her in the corridor. She said it had given her a lift. And that gave me a lift too. No person is an island and that is never more true than in a school community.

Vivolin Walker is vice-principal at Harris Academy in Peckham. She was talking to Steven Hastings.

The details

Winning the H Factor - The Secrets of Happy Schools is run by Alite, the educational trainers and publishers. The course will run in Leeds, London, Birmingham, Dunblane and Manchester, cost pound;245+VAT HFactor.htm.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today