Home' Independence : Independence Vol 34 No 2 Oct 2009 Contents Independence Vol 34 No 2 Oct 09 13
In 2009 Geelong Grammar School students from ELC to Year 12 participated in Cusp, a visual arts and Positive Education initiative showcasing
the transformative power of art to engage and elevate the human spirit. Mirroring the concept of De Bono's 'Thinking Hats', GGS Year 8
students were asked to consider what in life makes them happy and to articulate this through 'Happy Hats'.
both belonging and social and emotional
learning (McCarthy 2009).
Promoting the positive
As a researcher and consultant I have
visited many schools in Australia that
are actively developing a focus on
wellbeing. They are good places to be,
regardless of whether they are in areas of
deprivation or privilege. The atmosphere
feels calm and productive. Both students
and teachers tell me they are happy and
proud to be there and feel they have a
say in what happens. Principals say that
staff retention is good, relationships
are primarily positive both within the
school and in the community, conflict
is addressed well and hard to manage
behaviour is rare and dealt with quickly.
The focus is on promoting the positive.
There is little bullying. Many of these
schools have introduced values education,
restorative practices or positive behaviour
for learning. Academic outcomes reflect
the more positive learning environment.
Student wellbeing is not a panacea for
all potential challenges in a school -- but
there is a powerful rationale and plenty
of evidence to consider this change of
emphasis and direction, including the
benefits to learning. It begins with the
belief that it matters.
Dr Sue Roffey researches and consults on
student and school wellbeing. She is an Adjunct
Research Fellow at The University of Western
Sydney; is currently editor of a special edition
of Educational and Child Psychology on school
relationships; and has been involved with
recent Australian Government scoping studies
on student wellbeing and social and emotional
learning. She is a founder member of Wellbeing
Australia. For more information visit www.
1 More information is available at http://web.
ceomelb.catholic.edu.au/ or research papers
can be accessed from the Student Wellbeing
Action Partnership website at http://www.
2 For more information visit http://www.decs.
3 For an Australian perspective see Noble and
McGrath's paper (2008) listed below and
the Wellbeing Australia website http://www.
4 For more information about MindMatters visit
Benard, B. (2001) Fostering resiliency in kids.
Educational Leadership, 67(2):44-48.
Hattie, J. (2009) Visible learning: A synthesis of
over 800 meta-analyses relating to acheivement.
Oxford and New York: Routledge.
Hromek, R. (2004) Planting the peace virus:
Early intervention to prevent violence in schools.
Lucky Duck Publishing.
Libbey, H. (2004) Measuring student
relationships to school: Attachment, bonding,
connectedness, and engagement. Journal of
School Health, 74(7):274-283.
Mason, J. and Rowling, L. (2005) Look after the
staff first: A case study of developing staff health
and wellbeing. Promotion & Education,12:140.
McCarthy, F. (2009) Circle Time Solutions:
Creating caring school communities. Research
report for the NSW Department of Education.
Noble, T. and McGrath, H. (2008) The positive
educational practices framework: A tool for
facilitating the work of educational psychologists
in promoting pupil wellbeing. Educational and
Child Psychology, 25(2). This paper and Roffey
(2008) can be downloaded from http://www.
Roffey, S. (2007) Transformation and emotional
literacy: The role of school leaders in developing
a caring community. Leading and Managing,
Roffey. S. (2008) Emotional literacy and the
ecology of school wellbeing. Educational and
Child Psychology, 25(2):29-39.
Rowling, L. (2005) Health, wellbeing and the
whole school community. Sydney: National
Zins, J.E., Weissberg, R.P., Wang, M.C. and
Walber, H. (2004) Building academic success on
social and emotional learning: What does the
research say? Columbia: Teachers College Press.
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