IES Venancio Blanco is a Secondary School with compulsory, post-compulsory and vocational training studies located in Salamanca (Spain). There are 1.200 students, most of them from 12 to 18 years old, with different socio-economic backgrounds, coming from different countries.
The Hippocampus project came to the school as an opportunity to change the way the school faces emotional education, management of conflicts and the improvement of learning results and personal wellbeing, both for teachers and students and, in a subsequent stage, also for students’ families.
During the first year (2017-18), a set of pilot lessons were given to different groups of students during school hours. These lessons reached up to 900 students, with the aim to introduce them to the benefits of yoga practising. Then, a set of 20 students were selected to attend weekly yoga lessons in the afternoon. Another group of 20 teachers had their own yoga classes in the afternoon, and this training has been certified by the Educational Innovation and Training Centre (CFIE), the unit responsible for training programmes addressed to teachers in the province by the regional government of Castille and Leon. The whole experience has been documented in a master’s degree thesis directed by one of the school teachers at the University of Salamanca.
During this school year (2018-19), coinciding with the second year of the Hippocampus Project, the 8-week programme has been shared with 125 students and 40 teachers. Regarding the administration of the questionnaires, 101 responses have been collected from students and 40 from teachers for the pre-questionnaire. Regarding the post-questionnaire, 91 students and 40 teachers responded to the questionnaire. Furthermore, a 30-week programme has been followed by a set of 20 students, 25 teachers and 40 parents, with the support of the parents’ association, who managed the registration fees and partially subsidized the activity. As for the first year, the 8-week programme has been certified by teachers from the Educational Innovation and Training Centre (CFIE). The whole experience has also been documented in a final degree project, tutored by one of the school teachers at the University of Salamanca.
The key to success and the good reception the project has received is due to our yoga teacher, José Llordén Cadierno, whose good work and professionalism has been and still is the crucial element that has convinced the school to incorporate the practice of yoga as one of the hallmarks of the centre. Students, teachers and parents have been enthusiastic about the results and the benefits obtained, both in terms of emotional management, personal balance and academic performance, especially by the management of stress and anxiety, improvement of concentration, etc.
As for the future projects, the school will teach a course with our yoga teacher to other schools in the province during the school year 2019-20, in order to show them the experience of Venancio Blanco and the benefits we have experienced in the school community as a whole, to be certified by the regional government. We will keep the yoga sessions during the afternoon for students, teachers and parents, and we are currently studying the possibilities to incorporate the practice of yoga during school time incorporated in the tutorial action plan, for which we need the permission of the regional government, currently ongoing.