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Positive Education – using data to bring joy

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

Last year’s Mission Australia’s youth survey of almost 22,000 young people aged between 15 and 19 revealed that one in five young people are extremely concerned or very concerned about depression. It also showed that the top three issues of concern for young people, especially girls, were coping with stress, school or study problems, and body image.

Equipping students with the ability to counteract mental illness, think positively and maintain their wellbeing is at the forefront of Positive Education, a program that is used in many different schools.

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, he asked ‘how do we equip our students so that they flourish when they leave school?’

The Mount Barker High School approach is using data to measure students’ wellbeing and teachers are using this data to improve student wellbeing.

The school has embedded Positive Education into its DNA. 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. 

Mount Barker High School is one of three ALL case studies that provide practical examples of how joy and data can come together in learning. 

Inspired by the inaugural Australian Learning Lecture, delivered by Sir Michael Barber, the ALL Case Studies examine how data enables educators to help learners find joy in learning, to flourish and tackle life’s opportunities.

The case study includes videos and text.