Well-Being in Schools: 4 Steps to Building an Approach to Well-Being in Your School

A focus on subjective well-being and school life satisfaction is practical, measurable, and comprehensive and gives schools an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of young people.

– International Baccalaureate Organization


Building an approach to well-being in your school

Research has shown that an integrated, comprehensive school well-being policy is more likely to be effective than ad hoc measures in response to an individual student being overwhelmed with stress and anxiety.

Likewise, embedding well-being into curriculum, practices, and school life seems to be more effective than implementing well-being as an “add-on feature”.

A whole-school approach ensures that all components of the school organization work coherently together, engaging the whole community, including pupils, teachers, parents and community stakeholders.

On the other hand, targeted well-being programs consistent with each school context are likely to have a more substantial impact than “universal” types of interventions. Each school may have particular characteristics and understandings concerning student well-being; therefore, your school well-being policy and practices may be unique.

Step 1. Acknowledge the importance of well-being in your school

  • Why does well-being matter in your context?
  • For whom is well-being important in your school, and why?
  • What evidence is there to ground the state of well-being in your school?
  • What are the areas of development where well-being may have an impact?

Step 2. Define well-being in your context

  • How do various stakeholders in your school define well-being?
  • What is common and what is different in the way well-being is defined?
  • What are the dreams and triggers for well-being in your school?

Step 3. Map the well-being influencers in your school

  • What factors support or challenge well-being in your school?
  • What are the factors that can potentially add value for a future well-being policy?
  • What are the domains that concern you the most regarding well-being: systems and structures, relationships, teaching and learning, or environment?

Step 4. Measure and compare well-being in your school against relevant benchmarks

  • What types of measurements and tools are available in your context?
  • How do these tools relate to your school’s definition of well-being?
  • Why, and what, do you particularly need to measure in order to better understand the well-being reality in your school?

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