To deliver the highest quality and generate the most positive effects of education, schools need to stay up to date with changes in education practice and programs. In recent years, there has been a conscious shift towards positive education in schools, an idea based on helping students recognise their strengths, feel empowered and accomplish their goals.
At St Francis Xavier College, we prioritise student wellbeing by providing a pathway for every child, ensuring they enjoy an enriching education that will support them into the future. It is more than just a statement or motto: it is a true creed that we have taken to heart, and one that informs our curriculum, teaching and community development.
Positive education draws from the science and principles of positive psychology, which is an approach studying human thoughts, feelings and behaviour with a focus on strengths instead of weaknesses. Positive psychology is built around the fundamental idea of improving someone’s quality of life through mental and emotional wellbeing. Christopher Peterson, a noted advocate and researcher in positive psychology, labelled it the study of “what makes life most worth living.”
Professionals and scholars have adapted the ideals of positive psychology into education practices, with a view to ensuring the mental health of all students. The positive education framework combines traditional principles of teaching and learning with evidence-based strategies of increasing happiness and wellbeing in schools.
Positive education seeks to prioritise and promote key aspects of life and learning, including: positive emotions and relationships; engagement; meaning; accomplishment; and overall health.
At St Francis Xavier College, we connect with the tenets of the positive education model and underpin all of our learning programs with three clear and important community expectations:
When students are experiencing better mental health and wellbeing, they can translate this into better performance at school. This doesn’t just mean in the classroom either — positive education helps students commit to and engage in extracurricular activities, hobbies and interests, as well as their academic pursuits. Learning positive mental health skills and practices at the school level can also lead to long-term life effects, improving career opportunities, benefit mindset and overall wellbeing.
Positive education also helps to foster more positive interactions between students and staff, creating a system built around collaboration. Schools become more connected and integrated communities, which supports the academic and personal development of all students.
It’s not enough to recognise the benefits of positive education if you aren’t putting them into action. To make sure our students have the best possible experience, we are committed to instituting a variety of programs and wellbeing practices.
To highlight our commitment to providing positive and enriching experiences for students, and ensure we are always providing the best environment for our students, we are a member of the Positive Education Schools Association. Established in 2011, PESA is the peak group for positive education throughout the country, committed to linking positive psychology and education, fostering its implementation in all schools, providing resources, and collaborating with educational leaders.
Utilising PESA’s resources and help ensures that everything we do is backed by evidence and made to help our students flourish. PESA keeps up to date with research into the field, educating its partner schools about scientifically valid wellbeing techniques and practices.
Creating a positive learning framework wouldn’t be complete without establishing emotional and educational wellbeing for all students. At St Francis Xavier College, our Wellbeing for Learning framework is designed to promote three key ideas:
Our student wellbeing framework involves a variety of support options, including counselling, physical health support, and — as one of Melbourne’s leading Catholic schools — Pastoral Care. Our commitment is to respond to the emotional and spiritual care needs of our students and entire community.
Supporting student wellbeing comes in many forms, and we provide a range of activities and groups that give students the opportunity to come together and foster positive growth and interactions.
The importance of student wellbeing is at the heart of our mission as a school. While we promote positive behaviours and interactions to improve learning in classroom settings, we also recognise that positive education can improve wellbeing overall and help students lead positive, fulfilling lives.
At St Francis Xavier College, pathways are more than just academic. And we are committed to creating a stimulating, encouraging pathway for every child.