Wellbeing in schools: Examining the policy–practice nexus
- 1.7k Downloads
National concern regarding the social and emotional wellbeing of children and young people is now strongly reflected in a wide range of Australian policy initiatives. A considerable number of these target schools and point firmly to the role education is perceived to play in promoting student wellbeing. Given that wellbeing can be difficult to define and complex to measure, closer attention needs to be paid to whether and how the current wellbeing policy environment provides conceptual clarity and intelligible implementation pathways. This article explores some of the current policy ambiguity by drawing on findings from a large-scale, mixed methods study exploring student wellbeing at school. These findings emerged from an extensive analysis of wellbeing-related policy, together with policy-related data from in-depth interviews with teachers and principals. They suggest that approaches to supporting student wellbeing are constrained by an ad hoc policy environment characterised by competing discourses and a consequential lack of clarity regarding how wellbeing is understood and best facilitated within the context of schools. The implications of these findings are discussed with particular attention to the interface between policy and practice with regard to student wellbeing in schools in Australia.
KeywordsStudent wellbeing Social and emotional wellbeing Schools Education policy Pastoral care
This work was supported by the Australian Research Council under Grant LP110200656.
- AITSL. (2011). National professional standards for teachers. Melbourne: Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership. Retrieved from http://www.aitsl.edu.au/.
- ASPA. (2008). Policy position statement: Student wellbeing. Kingston, ACT: Australian Secondary Principals Association. Retrieved from http://www.aspa.asn.au.
- Australian Government Department of Health and Family Services. (2000). A national framework for health promoting schools (2000-2003): National health promoting schools initiative. Retrieved from http://www.chpcp.org/resources/health%20promoting%20schools%20framework.pdf.
- Australian Government Department of Education. (2013). National school chaplaincy and student welfare program guidelines. Retrieved from http://docs.education.gov.au/system/files/doc/other/nscswp_guidelines.pdf.
- Carl, A. (2005). The “voice of the teacher” in curriculum development: A voice crying in the wilderness. South African Journal of Education, 25(4), 223–228.Google Scholar
- Catholic Education Office Melbourne. (2006). Student wellbeing research: Document 1. Melbourne: Catholic Education Office Melbourne.Google Scholar
- Chapman, A. (2015). Wellbeing and schools: Exploring the normative dimensions. In J. McLeod & K. Wright (Eds.), Rethinking youth wellbeing (pp. 143–160). Singapore: Springer.Google Scholar
- Commonwealth of Australia. (2009). Fourth national mental health plan. Retrieved from http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/mental-pubs-f-plan09.
- Council of Australian Governments (COAG). (2012). The roadmap for national mental health reform 2012-2022. Retrieved from http://www.coag.gov.au/sites/default/files/The%20Roadmap%20for%20National%20Mental%20Health%20Reform%202012-2022.pdf.pdf.
- Ereaut, G., & Whiting, R. (2008). What do we mean by ‘wellbeing’? And why might it matter? Research Report DCSF-RW073. London: Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF).Google Scholar
- Graham, A., Fitzgerald, R., Powell, M., Thomas, N., Anderson, D., White, N., & Simmons, C. (2014). Improving approaches to wellbeing in schools: What role does recognition play? Centre for children and young people. Lismore: Southern Cross University.Google Scholar
- Hamilton, M., & Redmond, G. (2010). Conceptualisation of social and emotional wellbeing for children and young people, and policy implications. Sydney: Social Policy Research Centre.Google Scholar
- Liamputtong, P. (2009). Qualitative research methods (3rd ed.). Melbourne: Oxford.Google Scholar
- McAuley, C., & Rose, W. (Eds.). (2010). Child well-being: Understanding children’s lives. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.Google Scholar
- McLeod, J., & Wright, K. (2015). Inventing youth wellbeing. In J. McLeod & K. Wright (Eds.), Rethinking youth wellbeing (pp. 1–10). Singapore: Springer.Google Scholar
- Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA). (2008). Melbourne declaration on educational goals for young Australians. Retrieved from http://www.mceecdya.edu.au/verve/_resources/National_Declaration_on_the_Educational_Goals_for_Young_Australians.pdf.
- Ministerial Council for Education, Early Chilhdood Development and Youth Affairs (MCEECDYA). (2011). National safe schools framework. Retrieved from http://www.mceecdya.edu.ay/verve/_resources/NSSFramework.pdf.
- Noble, T., McGrath, H., Wyatt, T., Carbines, R., & Robb, L. (2008). Scoping study into approaches to student wellbeing: Final report. Australian Catholic University & Erebus International: Report to the department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.Google Scholar
- Redmond, G., Skattebol, J., & Saunders, P. (2013). The Australian child wellbeing project: Overview [Draft]. Australian child wellbeing website: Flinders University, the University of New South Wales, and the Australian Council for Educational Research. Retrieved from http://australianchildwellbeing.com.au/.
- Rose, W., & Rowlands, J. (2010). Introducing the concept of child well-being into government policy. In C. McAuley & W. Rose (Eds.), Child well-being: Understanding children’s lives. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.Google Scholar
- Skattebol, J., Hamilton, M., Skrzypiec, G., Burnstock, T., Redmond, G., Jenkins, B., & Dodd, K. (2013). Understanding children’s perspectives on wellbeing: Phase 1 report Australian child wellbeing project.Google Scholar
- Slee, P., Dix, K., & Askell-Willians, H. (2011). Whole-school mental health promotion in Australia. The International Journal of Emotional Education, 3(2), 37–49.Google Scholar
- Urbis. (2011). The psychological and emotional wellbeing needs of children and young people: Models of effective practice in educational settings. Prepared for the Department of Education and Communities.Google Scholar
- Victorian Auditor-General. (2010). Audit summary of the effectiveness of student wellbeing programs and services. Melbourne: Victorian Auditor-General’s Office.Google Scholar
- Wright, K. (2015). From targeted interventions to universal approaches: Historicizing wellbeing. In J. McLeod & K. Wright (Eds.), Rethinking Youth Wellbeing (pp. 197–218). Singapore: Springer.Google Scholar