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A childish panic about the next generation. Many of those fretting over the state of contemporary childhood, concerned that kids are passive, cooped up and sedentary, are motivated by nostalgia - sometimes even by snobbery.

By Helene Guldberg (Click to continue reading)
Prescriptions given to children for depression quadruples in decade. The number of prescriptions given to children aged under 16 for depression and other mental health diagnoses has quadrupled in a decade, according to official figures.
By Angela Hussain (Click here to continue reading)
Standing Without Shoes (Book)
Creating happiness, relieving depression, enhancing life. Standing Without Shoes has a foreword by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. This popular Australian self-help book promotes a solution focused approach to improving wellbeing.  Helen Street and her co-author George Burns discuss the need to improve our understanding of our own path to happiness as a means to preventing and treating depression. (Click here to read a review of this book)


WISE measures. British WISE assessment tools for your school

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With increasing numbers of children and adolescents experiencing social and psychological distress, the importance of developing positive social behaviour and emotional wellbeing has never been more pressing within our schools.  British WISE uses a number of well validated and reliable measures to assess wellbeing and common psychological disorders in children and adolescents.  Each of the measures used is internationally established and has been tested extensively in UK schools.

A description of each construct and assessment measure is described after the following overview of all scales used in the British WISE Complete Package™ and the British WISE High Risk Package™. Please contact us if you would like to assess psychological constructs that are not specifically mentioned in this section of the website.

PRIMARY SCHOOLS In the Complete Package (CP), teachers answer questions about children’s positive social behaviour. In both the CP and the High Risk Package (HRP) teachers answer questions about conduct disorders, emotional difficulties (primarily anxiety and depression), hyperactivity and inattention.  The children answer questions about bullying, aggression and anxiety, depending on their age and ability.  It is recommended that children also answer questions about school satisfaction as an addition to the CP.

Primary School Questionnaires assess:

  1. Observed pro-social behaviour in all children (CP only)
  2. Observed emotional difficulties (primarily anxiety and depression) in all children
  3. Observed conduct difficulties in all children
  4. Observed hyperactivity and inattention in all children
  5. Perceptions of bullying and aggression in all children
  6. Self reported social anxiety, social phobia and general anxiety in children in years four to seven
  7. Self reported school satisfaction in all children (an additional scale)

A description of all constructs and the corresponding assessment measures are described below:

Pro-social Behaviour

Pro-social behaviour may be defined as any action that benefits others, or promotes harmonious relations with others. It has been shown that pro-social behaviour has positive outcomes on achieving success and satisfaction, social competence and academic ability.   Children with higher levels of pro-social behaviour tend to be well adjusted, good at coping and self control. Individuals with good pro-social behaviour are also more likely to help others

British WISE uses the UK Rutter pro-social behaviour scale to assess pro-social behaviour in children and adolescents. This has been tested extensively in the UK since it’s development in the 1980s.

It has been found to be reliable and valid as a test of a wide range of pro-social behaviours. All results are compared to UK findings from extensive published research

Bullying and Aggression

Bullying is defined as negative actions, either physical or verbal, repeated over time, and involve a power differential between the bully and the victim. Bullying is a major problem for schools, affecting a substantial portion of the school population. Frequent teasing during childhood is associated with increased detachment, distrust, anxiety, and poor self-esteem.

British WISE uses the “Life in Schools” checklist to measure perceived levels of bullying and aggression in all students aged four to eighteen.  This measure has been widely used in the UK and as such has been shown to provide a valid and reliable assessment of bullying and aggression in school settings.  All results are compared to UK findings from extensive published research.


Depression is a psychiatric disorder that is diagnosed by an irritable mood in children and adolescents, along with a number of other signs and symptoms, such as diminished interest, loss of concentration, sleep disturbances and fatigue.  In a survey of ten schools, Helen found 2-4% of primary school children suffered depression in 2002. Not only are depressed children sad and hopeless, but there is a trend for their schoolwork to also deteriorate, and a withdrawal from extra-curricular activities. The outcomes of childhood depression include a three-fold increase in suicide attempts, as well as a two-to-three fold increase in adult anxiety or depressive disorders.

The Birleson depression inventory used by British WISE was established in the 1980s. It assesses depression and unhappiness and correlates highly with other established measures of depression such as Kovac's depression inventory. British WISE also uses the Rutter Emotional Difficulties scale to assess depression. Both the Birleson and the Rutter scales have been shown to be a reliable and valid means of assessing depression in secondary school students.  All results are compared to UK findings from extensive published research


Anxiety can be broadly defined as “emotional uneasiness associated with the anticipation of danger”. However, it is different from fear, which is an appropriate response to a known danger. Anxiety is generally considered to be an inappropriate response to a threat that is unknown or vague.  Anxiety disorders, including Separation Anxiety, are some of the most common psychiatric disorders seen in children, with the prevalence in the community being up to 18%. Anxiety symptoms can interfere with the development of self-esteem and peer relationships, and later developmental stages can be affected.

The Spence Anxiety Scales used by British WISE were developed in the 1990s after exhaustive consideration of many earlier scales.  They assess separation anxiety, social phobia and general anxiety in older primary school children.  British WISE also uses the Rutter Emotional Difficulties scale to assess anxiety.  All scales have been found to have good internal and retest reliability as well as concurrent validity when compared to other established measures.  All results are compared to UK findings from extensive published research.

Behavioural problems: conduct difficulties, hyperactivity and inattention

Behavioural problems refer to observable conduct and emotional difficulties experienced by students.  A problem is defined as a “disturbance of function” in one area of relationships, mood, behaviour or development sufficient to warrant professional intervention.  Once a problem is viewed as severe or multiple problems are identified in one individual, then the term “disorder” is used. The often cited “Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study” (1987) suggested that approximately 17% of 11 year olds have some sort of behavioural disorder.

Social and behavioural problems in children and adolescents have been found to have negative consequences in adulthood, and many adult mental health problems have been attributed to a lack of pro-social behaviour during early childhood. These social behavioural problems in adulthood have a negative impact on the individual and society.

British WISE uses the Rutter scales to measure observed conduct difficulties, hyperactivity and inattention in secondary school students.  The Rutter behavioural scales remain some of the worlds most widely used and highly regarded scales to assess behavioural problems. All results are compared to UK findings from extensive published research.

School Satisfaction (An optional extra)

Children and adolescents with low pro-social behaviour or who suffer from bullying, depression or anxiety, tend to have few positive classroom experiences and are often stigmatized. These perceptions seemed to be reflected in the frequency and nature of their interactions with other people involving areas of behaviour such as academic engagement, behavioural management, and interpersonal involvement. These students tend to experience problems in later life involving positive interactions with people. These students would reflect these negative behaviours in the classroom through things like declining engagement, lack of enthusiasm, and increased off task behaviours. These behaviours have a negative impact on adolescent development. This indicates that the classroom experience is an important factor in child development.

Helen uses questions on school enjoyment and enjoyment of peer group relationships to provide two indicators of school satisfaction for students of all ages.  Results are presented in easy-to-interpret pie charts.

Alternative Aspects of Wellbeing and Distress

If you are keen to examine specific constructs of wellbeing or areas of psychological distress not described here, please write to our enquiry line enquiries@britishwise.co.uk and we shall be happy to discuss your specific needs.