Why should Wellbeing be taught in schools?
In the face of an increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world, education can make the difference as to whether people embrace the challenges they are confronted with or whether they are defeated by them.
Students’ mental wellbeing has become a significant priority for education, with increasing numbers of students experiencing anxiety, depression, oppositional, social comparison and attention difficulties.
Educational policy has focused on the importance of evidence-based prevention and early intervention in schools, leading to the development of a program aimed at preparing children socially and emotionally for the 21st century and we have both embedded wellbeing within our curriculum and are making it a key aspect of school life with a goal to having a comprehensive and holistic approach to wellbeing.
There are major potential benefits for the schools in actively promoting emotional health, wellbeing and mental toughness as this can lead to increased self-awareness and self-regulation in our young students and an improved classroom and whole-school atmosphere.
The benefits of wellbeing have been studied over many decades in fields such as medicine, psychology, social work, sport science, business and, more recently, education. Research consistently shows that high wellbeing is linked to better physical health, happier relationships, greater resilience and more effective brain functioning (Algoe, Fredrickson & Gable, 2013; Howell, Kern & Lyubomirsky, 2007; Fredrickson, 2004; Mikels et al. 2008; Seligman 2011; Van Cappellen et al., 2017). For example, scientists have shown that people with high levels of wellbeing are less likely to catch the common cold (Cohen et al., 2006) and are more likely to bounce back faster from serious illness (Peterson, Park & Seligman, 2006). On top of that, the way we feel impacts the way we think, and research shows that positive emotions help us to learn more effectively, think more creatively and solve problems more effectively (Fredrickson, 2004).
This evidence above helps us to see that wellbeing is not simply a state of feeling good in the moment but can also be built up to be an enduring resource—an inner asset that helps our students stay healthy, build good relationships, cope with stress and learn successfully.
Education systems worldwide are facing criticism for failing to prepare children for the challenges of the modern world, through an over-emphasis on repetitive learning and exam preparation. In this context Langton Girls’ is embracing the power of positive psychology intervention in schools to empower young people to shape the future that they want, rather than only reacting to it.
We have developed in collaboration with Positive Ed a new PHSE curriculum for KS3. The programme is now taught in to all KS3 students to embed the positive psychology domains and mental toughness i.e. positive emotions, resilience, meaning, positive relationships, character strengths, commitment, perseverance, mindset and engagement. Through our collaboration with Positive Ed we will carry on evaluating the impact and the outcomes of the programme and adjust where necessary. This year we have also introduced aspects of this into our Year 10 curriculum both through their PSHE lessons and Enrichment curriculum.