There has been a real development in approaches to student wellbeing in schools over the last ten years or so, and following the NSW Association of Independent Schools report following the literature that identifies wellbeing approaches in schools, the evidence- based approaches that have the most impact fall under six categories.
A whole school approach to wellbeing seems to be the predominant determinant of positive wellbeing of students in schools. A team approach where staff take responsibility for the wellbeing of all students at their school, targeting different levels of needs and levels of maturity seem to have the most impact.
Interventions that have been researched to support the specific needs of a school, where staff are trained to support a program, have the best response. A focus on problem-solving, personal insight and opportunities to practise new skills should be part of any resources or programs delivered.
Staff who have a dedicated response to the interventions where teachers can lead a change themselves or a team of staff can take responsibility. There should be an emphasis that any program chosen is culturally relevant and developmentally achievable. If staff all agree to the necessity for a change or a belief that wellbeing is a priority in a school, the buy-in factor is very powerful, rather than a staff not recognising the need and not taking responsibility for the change in direction.
It is also important for families to be involved, to have the support from the school and be able to practise the same strategies as those used in a school setting. Of course students need to be involved in their own wellbeing and the opportunity to provide an avenue for student voice is also crucial to any program being deemed successful.
When everyone works together for ‘the common good’ in a school, the wellbeing of students and also staff is a result, meaning that the positive culture of a school can grow where students feel they are being heard and supported by all levels of leadership. At Clarence Valley Anglican School we believe that the restorative practices supported by the Real Schools program fits with the above points and the wellbeing of our students and staff is paramount to our students achieving their potential. Wellbeing programs such as Seasons for Growth, Art for Wellbeing, Drumbeat and Rock and Water are specifically targeted to support small groups of students while Restorative Practices is a whole of school approach.