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Positive education – how it helps develop students

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, one quarter of young Australians are suffering from symptoms of mental illness.

Helping young people acquire the skills and mindset that counteract mental illness and prepare them for a ‘life well lived’ is top of mind of Warren Symonds, Principal at Mount Barker High School in South Australia. 

He has turned to Positive Education, a philosophy that builds resilience and well-being as a way of developing the ‘whole’ student, from social and emotional through to academic wellbeing.  

As a starting point, the school adopted the Middle-years Development Index (MDI) which is administered by South Australia’s Department for Education and Child Development.  The index measures different aspects of wellbeing, such as connectedness.  Mount Barker teachers were trained by the University of Pennsylvania’s Resiliency Training, before attending training at Geelong Grammar School – a leader in the Positive Education movement. 

Today the program is embedded into the DNA of the school, providing information about each student, mapped against Positive Education attributes. The program is taught across the curriculum: 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 Symonds is assured that each student is leaving school in a better frame of mind because of the data collected through the wellbeing measurement tool.

Read our case study.

Image credit: 

Andy Drewitt