In very broad terms, wellbeing can be described as the quality of a person's life. Wellbeing needs to be considered in relation to how we feel and function across several areas, including our cognitive, emotional, social, physical and spiritual wellbeing.
Social wellbeing includes the extent to which we experience positive relationships and connectedness to others. It is important for pro-social behaviour and our empathy towards others.
Physical wellbeing is associated with the extent to which we feel physically safe and healthy. It includes nutrition, preventative health care, physical activity and physical safety and security. Physical wellbeing enables positive health outcomes.
Emotional wellbeing relates to self-awareness and emotional regulation. It includes how well we cope, and is often reflected by the level of a person’s resilience. Emotional wellbeing is in part informed by our capacity for self-reflection.
Cognitive wellbeing is associated with achievement and success. It includes how information is processed and judgements are made. It is also informed by motivation and persistence to achieve. Cognitive wellbeing is important for attaining knowledge and experiencing positive learning.
Spiritual wellbeing relates to our sense of meaning and purpose. It can include our connection to culture, religion or community and includes the beliefs, values and ethics we hold.
Wellbeing in schools is for all students. A focus on wellbeing goes beyond just welfare needs of a few individual students and aims for all students to be healthy, happy, successful and productive individuals who are active and positive contributors to the school and society in which they live.
The NSW Department of Education’s (DoE) Strategic Plan for 2018-2020 includes the goal that ‘every student is known, valued and cared for in our schools’. This can be understood to mean that NSW public schools – collectively and through their individual teachers seek to:
Know who each of their students are, including what they bring with them to school that influences their learning; who they are, as people and as learners; where they are at in their learning trajectory; what their aspirations are; and where they need to go to next
Value each of their students, including respecting their personal stories; recognise the contribution they make to their learning community; and hold high expectations for their learning success
Care for each of their students, including providing the support necessary to succeed as learners and experience wellbeing in the school context.
The NSW DoE endorses a whole-school rather than a siloed approach. That is, to cultivate wellbeing successfully in schools it must be “integrated into the school learning environment, the curriculum and pedagogy, the policies and procedures at schools, and the partnerships inherent within and outside schools including teachers, students, parents, support staff and community groups” (CESE, 2018, p. 12).
The Wellbeing Framework for Schools supports schools to create teaching and learning environments that enable students to be healthy, happy, engaged and successful. Wellbeing in our public schools is driven by the themes of Connect, Succeed and Thrive.