2 March 2020

Dr Henrietta Bowden Jones, Clinical Director of CNWL’s National Centre for Gaming Disorders  (NCGD) has praised the “groundbreaking work for student wellbeing” at The Bishop of Winchester Academy (‘The Bishop’), Bournemouth, after spending a brilliant day with the Academy and its students on Friday 28 February, with her Team from the NGDC.

Dr Rosie Mills, Dr Bowden Jones, Dr Emmett Roberts and Georgina Luck from the National Centre for Gaming Disorders  (NCGD)

Dr Henrietta Bowden Jones, CNWL, Fay Kirby, Deputy Vice Principal (‘The Bishop’)

‘The Bishop’ has conducted a ‘Use of Time’ student (and parent) survey which showed that:

  • hundreds of students are spending over three hours each school day and over six hours each day of the weekend ‘gaming’
  • the majority of these students continue with these activities late at night, knowing that this is having a negative impact on their learning and their grades
  • many have tried to reduce the time they spend gaming but have been unable to do so
  • they need help and are asking for help from us as teachers and leaders.

This is leading to:

  • neglect of school work, exercise and personal hygiene
  • overstimulation late at night and poor quality sleep
  • conflict within families
  • feelings of helplessness.

Fay Kirby, Deputy Vice Principal (‘The Bishop’), said, “We were all shocked at the honesty and gravity of the feedback. Clearly our students were not able to ‘live life to the full’, our Academy motto.”

So what happened next? Fay explains:

“I met with the Principal, Paul McKeown, the senior leadership team and our pastoral Heads of Year and shared the findings.  We changed our assembly plans and I led assemblies with Key Stage 3, Key Stage 4 and Key Stage 5 students entitled ‘should you be left to your own devices?’”

“Several assemblies ended with rounds of applause from students – they were grateful that we were beginning to address the issues raised.”

“We held a Parent Information evening entitled ‘left to their own devices?’  Parents had so many questions at the end of the evening; so much so that I had to draw them to a close, so that we could all get home!”

The results was scrutinised and the teachers subsequently met with individual students to support them, or met with students in groups to inform them of the reason why games are so compelling and compulsive and suggested ways forward.

“Good News stories have started to trickle in – some have completely given up all gaming, others have given up on Monday to Thursdays; some have taken up new hobbies and started attending some of our Enrichment Clubs.  It’s been lovely to see.  However, others have not.”

“When I read that the NHS had opened an Internet Gaming Disorder Clinic in London, I contacted Dr Henrietta Bowden Jones.  We were invited, by Dr Bowden Jones, to come and visit the clinic in London.  Amanda Hooper, our Deputy Principal, and I did so in January. Dr Bowden Jones’ response of support was overwhelming and it was decided that she and her team would come to Bournemouth to visit our school and ‘see for themselves.’”

“On Friday 28 February the sun showed its face as they arrived on the 0912 train from Waterloo!  Lovely to see the team arrive knowing that they would soon be leading assemblies and meeting with individual students.”

“Our students grasped the opportunity to meet with Dr Bowden Jones and her team after the assemblies and share their gaming habits and struggles.  Referral forms were passed out to those who were in need of further support and many individuals came out of these private sessions looking hopeful.”

“Dr Bowden Jones herself was impressed with the confidence and honesty of our students and appeared, with the team, to be learning as well as leading.”

“I shared the survey with Dr Bowden Jones and she was very excited, stating that ‘this kind of data does not exist anywhere else.’  There is now talk of this possibly being published in some form. Maybe our work at The Bishop of Winchester Academy can be used to help others – that would be great!”

“Dr Bowden Jones congratulated us on the high quality, groundbreaking, work we have been doing with our students in supporting their wellbeing. My hope is that many are now on a journey which will enable them to ‘live life to the full.’  This is just the beginning of the journey – many need help not just in our school, but in every school.”

Dr Bowden Jones said, “I really want to congratulate Fay and the school for taking this issue – this wellbeing issue – seriously and sensibly. The way they proceeded, collecting evidence and acting on it is very impressive. However, the school is a model to be emulated elsewhere. Their work is worthy of publication as it can inform so much good practice and provide help for those who need it. Well done to The Bishop of Winchester Academy!”