Wellbeing at the Heart of Sreenidhi International School

At Sreenidhi International School we believe that we must be a ‘happy school’ in order for students to learn and thrive. Our mission talks about empowering students through voice and choice, but how can this happen if they are anxious, fearful and downhearted? This article explores ways in which we can explore the ‘happy school’ culture so that learning is effective and how such ideas can be applied more broadly. As we know, happy teachers teach, happy students learn!

The following article informs much of this thinking and was commissioned by the IB.
Taylor, L., De Neve, J., DeBorst, L., & Khanna, D. (2022). Well-being in education in childhood and adolescence. International Baccalaureate Organization.

The Sreenidhi vision and mission statements are being reviewed to incorporate aspects of wellbeing, what does literature tell us about wellbeing in young children and adolescents?

  • Childhood and adolescence are key developmental windows for psychological interventions in areas like well-being. Wellbeing interventions can not only improve the life of the young person, but can also influence cognitive developmental processes to prepare them for adulthood.
  • There is value in using school time, money, and resources to improve student well-being. These improvements will likely not only have immediate benefits for students, but may also have a driving effect on other positive outcomes.
  • Psychological functioning is a complicated predictor of wellbeing. Related areas that show promise are resilience, self-esteem, optimism, growth mindset, selfcontrol, emotional regulation, and finding meaning or purpose.
  • Family interactions are very impactful on the well-being of young people and, for children in particular, they are the most significant driver. While schools and initiatives have very little control over the home environment, they can provide guidance and information to parents about how they can support their child’s wellbeing.
  • School climate is influential for both students and staff, and impacts many other drivers of wellbeing. It is particularly important for the school environment to feel safe and for teachers to have good relationships with students.
  • Cooperative learning in the classroom is very important for wellbeing. Young people benefit from seeing themselves as part of a team; they can benefit from competition when it is team-based rather than focused on individuals.
  • There is a place for both whole-school approaches and targeted interventions. If implemented properly, whole-school approaches can be effective; however, targeted interventions are still needed, and are helpful for young people who are struggling.
  • Wellbeing policies and strategies should be formalised, any intervention implemented should have clear guidelines, and staff should know which areas they are individually responsible for.

This research provides us with some clear thinking. The importance of school culture (happy school) is highlighted as is the crucial role played by parents and the community. Policies must be set in place that are clear and understood by all while additionally the teaching methodology can support wellbeing. The inquiry based and collaborative teaching used in IB programmes supports wellbeing. This leads us to ask, what strategies can we adapt to further support happiness and wellbeing?

There is no trade-off between wellbeing and academic performance. Happier young people make better learners. We can feel confident in using time and resources to improve student well-being with the knowledge that this will likely also lead to improvements in academic attainment. Wellbeing and attendance play correlate closely to achievement.

  • We should decide which definition of wellbeing works well in our context in addition to further promoting our own design of a wellbeing framework.
  • Post-COVID-19 interventions are still needed to support young people and staff with their well-being after a challenging period.
  • Physical health is crucial to well-being, and a deficit in any area of physical health can have a significant impact. Evidence suggests a link between physical activity and well-being—this is a key area that we should explore further, even beyond PHE and ETZ.
  • The interactions between peers at school are very important for young people’s well-being, especially in adolescence. One key area that our wellbeing policy should focus on is building social support and reducing instances of bullying. Our MooZoom initiative goes some way to addressing this aspect.
  • Teacher wellbeing is a predictor of student well-being. Our well-being policies should emphasize ways to support teacher well-being.
  • We must evaluate school-related anxiety within the community to find out whether students are suffering from school-related anxiety and if there are any key areas, such as workload that is troubling students.
  • There is a great deal of interest in wellbeing science from schools and policymakers, and the demand is higher than ever due to the changes globally as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our focus at Sreenidhi on wellbeing is practical, measurable, and comprehensive and gives us an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of young people. Remember, happy students learn!

Author Name : Malcolm Nicolson