A wellbeing focus provides positive connections to academic outcomes

Wednesday, 29 Mar 2023

Academic outcomes have always been a crucial aspect of education, but increasingly, educators recognise that a student's wellbeing is just as important. In fact, focusing on boosting students' self-confidence, resilience, self-esteem, and self-worth can only benefit their abilities to perform and thrive in an educational environment and in life outside the school gate. This is an idea that Professor Donna Cross, a renowned expert in child and adolescent health and wellbeing, has championed.

In a recent literature review by the Association of Independent Schools of New South Wales (AISNSW), Cross's work is cited as an important contribution to understanding how student wellbeing can impact academic outcomes. The review emphasises that a focus on wellbeing is not just about improving mental health but also about promoting positive social and emotional development, which in turn can lead to better academic outcomes.

One of the key concepts that Cross discusses is resilience. Cross states resilience is "the ability to cope with stress, adversity, or challenge". Building resilience in students can help them to better manage the stresses of school life, including academic pressures, social challenges, and personal issues. This, in turn, can lead to better academic outcomes as students are more able to focus on their studies and persevere through difficulties.

Another important concept that Cross discusses is self-esteem. Self-esteem is a person's subjective evaluation of their own worth or value. Building self-esteem in students can help them feel more confident in their abilities, leading to improved academic outcomes. When students feel confident in their abilities, they are more likely to take risks, to ask questions, and to engage more deeply in their learning.

The AISNSW literature review also cites Cross's work on the importance of social and emotional learning (SEL). SEL is a process through which students learn to manage emotions, build relationships, and make responsible decisions. The review notes that SEL has been shown to improve academic outcomes and social and emotional development.

Bishop Druitt College is one institution that has been a leader in this field for many years and it continues to take opportunities to support student wellbeing through a comprehensive approach. As part of an AISNSW Compass project, the school is reviewing its wellbeing scope and sequence to ensure that it includes opportunities for rites of passage development, is inclusive of outdoor education programs, as well as PDHPE, and other curriculum links that promote social and emotional learning. The college is also making use of its Wellbeing Hub, which provides pastoral support to students in need as well as proactive programs for all year groups. By taking a holistic approach to student wellbeing, Bishop Druitt College is demonstrating its commitment to helping students academically and personally thrive.

Nick Johnstone

Source: https://www.aisnsw.edu.au/teachers-and-staff/supporting-students/mental-health-and-wellbeing/wellbeing-literature-review