Positive Education at RCHK

Wellbeing is at the heart of what we do at RCHK.

Our model for wellbeing at RCHK is the “heart of RCHK”, which includes what we value for our community on the left, and how we work to develop wellbeing in ourselves on the right.

When asked what they want their children to be when they grow up, a large number of parents will reply that they want their children to be happy. We want the same thing. Happiness is an important part of life, with its ups and downs; recognising it and valuing it in ourselves and in others is part of living a good life.

Psychology has traditionally focused on correcting mental illness, but in the late 1990s Martin Seligman encouraged the field to turn instead to look at ways to build and develop human strengths. Positive psychology builds on what is already good for people and helps them to thrive and to flourish.

The field of positive psychology is wide, and a number of slightly different definitions for it exist in the literature. At RCHK, we define positive psychology as, “the study of strengths, and how people use them to thrive within relationships, work and play.”

Positive education grew from positive psychology, and is becoming more prominent in schools around the world, and especially in Australia. It is an approach to education that focuses on developing the wellbeing of students, and it is an approach we are adopting at Renaissance, where we define positive education as “nurturing strengths and personal motivation to promote learning and wellbeing based on a positive psychology approach.”

Wellbeing itself is a term that can be hard to define. At RCHK, we consider wellbeing to be “the physical, social and psychological state needed to meet life’s challenges.”  We all know that life throws challenges at us. What we are striving for in our positive education approach is to support students in developing a toolkit of resources to respond to these challenges.

The goal of our positive education approach at RCHK is simply “providing the tools to flourish throughout life.”

What we VALUE at RCHK (“Values”):

These are the values we share at RCHK as being important for us in building wellbeing and developing an understanding of our goal for positive education:

What we LEARN at RCHK (“Constructs”):

A construct is an idea or theory that is formed in people’s minds. In psychology, constructs are related to aspects of human personality or behaviour, and positive psychology constructs specifically focus on a person’s ability to thrive.

At Renaissance College we have selected five positive psychology constructs which support our values. The content of our positive education programme is based on these five constructs, and can be thought of as what we learn in terms of wellbeing:

Measuring Wellbeing:

This year, wellbeing will be measured across schools in ESF. This is happening for all students in Year 4 – 13. The Assessing Wellbeing in Education (AWE) assessment will help schools to measure and track the wellbeing of their school community. There is more information about the tool we are using for this on www.awesomeschools.com.

For Primary students, the AWE assessment consists of a collection of validated psychometric scales and scientifically informed questions from the psychology literature that assess various aspects of wellbeing. For Primary students, filling in the 14 questions should take 4-8 minutes. For Secondary students, filling in the 29 questions should take 5 – 10 minutes.

The school will receive data about each student’s wellbeing, and also anonymised data related to classes, year groups and the whole school. This will help the school plan to help both individuals and inform whole school plans.