Why Compassion Matters?

The Compassion Matters project was launched by the Dalai Lama Centre for Compassion to address several urgent issues and challenges in society by

  • Placing positive values at the heart of individuals, schools, commerce, politics and wider society by enabling children to understand compassion and its related values from an early age.
  • Developing high-quality learning materials that are available to all regardless of means.
  • Helping children develop social-emotional learning skills through engaging with ethics and values in an academic and action based format.
  • Contributing to the improvements of children’s mental health and well-being at a time when increasing numbers of children are presenting mental health conditions.
  • Supporting children to develop tangible and transferable academic skills that enhance their learning in and out of the classroom.

The Dalai Lama’s Mission

The patron of the Dalai Lama Centre for Compassion, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, has a long-held ambition to see secular ethics and values education taught in schools. He considers training at an early age in ethics “of a universal, non-religious, character focused on compassion” – as of the utmost importance from an early age. Along with His Holiness, the trustees and fellows also perceived there was potential for significant benefit to children’s well-being from the exploration of human values, enabling children to build a strong intellectual base with which to tackle future challenges.

It is also clear that the current provisions of ethical education in the UK had been found to lack high-quality resources and the ability to reach all schools regardless of financial means. Teachers and other education professionals remained enthusiastic about ethical teaching, but they lacked the resources and training to provide it. There was also a specific need for resources to be scalable and accessible enabling schools with limited resources and serving socioeconomically disadvantaged and geographically dispersed communities to engage with the project.

Ethics and Social-Emotional Learning

During the project, pilot DLCC staff and fellows also researched the impact of teaching ethics and values on children’s mental health, emotional well-being and academical skills. There is a strong link between the teaching of ethics and children developing better social-emotional learning skills including:

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-management
  • Social awareness
  • Relationship skills
  • Responsible decision making

Current findings document that social-emotional learning (SEL) projects yielded significant positive effects on targeted social-emotional competencies and attitudes about self, others and school. They also enhanced students’ behavioural adjustment in the form of increased pro-social behaviours, reduced conduct and internalising of problems.

Compassion Matters is well placed to make a significant contribution to children of social-emotional learning having based its design and content on the models and research mentioned above. During the project’s pilot, a considerable impact was indicated in all of the five critical areas of SEL.


Academic Skills

On average social-emotional learning (SEL) interventions, including the teaching of ethics and values, have an identifiable and valuable impact on attitudes to learning and social relationships in school. In the UK, high-profile research has been undertaken by the Education Endowment Foundation on behalf of the Department for Education since 2011. On average, SEL interventions have an identifiable and valuable impact on attitudes to learning and social relationships in school. They also have an overall average effect of four months’ additional progress on attainment. In 2017, the collaborative association for social-emotional learning (CASEL) carried out a meta-analysis shows evidence of SEL’s long-lasting impact. A 2011 study found 11-percentile-point academic gains.  


Mental Well-being

Children in the UK are reported to have unusually low well-being and mental health, described by UNICEF as ‘unhappy materialists’ due to an overemphasis on material goods as a source of well-being.  Children and young people in the UK are under unprecedented pressure to achieve good academic results while coping with considerable social and emotional demands. There is now tangible, credible research on the scale of the problems faced by young people:

  • In written evidence to the UK parliamentary Health Select Committee, Public Health England stated that 30% of English adolescents report sub-clinical mental health.
  • 1 in 10 children have a mental health disorder – roughly three children in every classroom.
  • Half of all mental health problems manifest by the age of 14, with 75% by age 24.

Compassion Matters contributes to the need for supporting children’s mental health by delivering resources that contribute to an essential part of their future personal development. By developing a greater knowledge of values and their related actions (such as happiness, courage and compassion) children will approach these areas of their life with strategies for achieving their potential and strategies for managing the inevitable challenges in life.


Sample our first module

We are delighted to share our first module to interested schools, organisations and individuals.

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Compassion in Education

Find out more about the foundation of the Dalai Lama Centre for Compassion and His Holiness' mission to see compassion and related values taught in every school.

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Persons of Interest

Each of our modules features a film about an individual and their exploration of one of our themes.

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