The Australian Educational Researcher

, Volume 45, Issue 4, pp 515–531 | Cite as

Wellbeing in schools: what do students tell us?

  • Mary Ann Powell
  • Anne Graham
  • Robyn Fitzgerald
  • Nigel Thomas
  • Nadine Elizabeth White


Until recently, children and young people’s perspectives have been largely overlooked in considering optimal approaches to supporting their wellbeing at school. This article reports student views on the meaning of ‘wellbeing’ and how this is best facilitated, gathered as part of a large, national research project aimed at understanding and improving approaches to wellbeing in schools. The data reported here were gathered through 67 focus groups, involving 606 primary and secondary school students, across three Catholic school regions in different Australian states. Students provided rich accounts of how they view their wellbeing, conceptualised across three interconnected themes of ‘being’, ‘having’ and ‘doing’. They identified relationships with self, teachers, friends, peers and significant others, as central to their wellbeing. The findings point to immense potential in accessing and utilising children and young people’s views for change and reform in schools in the area of student wellbeing.


Student wellbeing Relationships Student voice Children’s rights Recognition theory Childhood studies 



We thank Julia Truscott for her assistance with the preparation of this manuscript.


This work was supported by the Australian Research Council under Grant LP110200656.


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Copyright information

© The Australian Association for Research in Education, Inc. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Children & Young PeopleSouthern Cross UniversityLismoreAustralia
  2. 2.School of Social WorkUniversity of Central LancashirePrestonUK

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