Using data to measure and improve students’ wellbeing

Six Inspiring Schools - Learning Maths can be joyful

Six inspiring schools show how it is possible to create success for every student.

Warren Symonds, Principal at Mount Barker High School (South Australia, Australia), sees it as his role to care for the development of the whole student. He cares about the social and emotional wellbeing of his students, as well as their academic wellbeing. Mindful of the many challenges that confront young people, and statistics that suggest that as many as one quarter of all young people suffer symptoms of mental illness , Warren asked ‘how do we equip our students so that they flourish when they leave school?’

Warren Symonds believes that the best way for Positive Education to be a success at Mount Barker
is for the philosophy to be embedded into the curriculum and teaching practice. He believes that the most effective approach is to build resilience and well-being by living and teaching a practice that demonstrates how Positive Psychology can permeate every aspect of a student’s life. His vision is that ‘students don’t even know they’re doing it’.

As Warren reports, Positive Education is now embedded into the DNA of the school. In Year 10 English classes Positive Education character strengths are used as a framework for writing a character analysis. In Year 9 Science the science behind growth mindsets is taught. Importantly, Warren and his team map out how Positive Education is being taught across the curriculum to ensure that there is no doubling up across the curriculum.

The live it, teach it, embed it approach encompasses not just student learning but also how teachers engage with students. Mount Barker teachers were trained by the University of Pennsylvania’s Resiliency Training as well as attending training at Geelong Grammar School – a leader in the Positive Education movement.