Section One: Introduction

This section describes the desired outcomes for student wellbeing and principles to guide student wellbeing.

Wellbeing is vital for student success. This is the premise on which the Draft Evaluation Indicators for Student Wellbeing have been developed.

The indicators in this document draw from research and evaluation evidence and describe a clear and concise picture of school practices that effectively promote and respond to student wellbeing. At the centre of these practices are diverse students, their strengths, their interests and their potential to succeed.

The ethical responsibility of teachers, leaders and trustees is to consider, promote, balance and respond to all aspects of the student, including their physical, social, emotional, academic and spiritual needs. These considerations require deliberate expression and action across all curriculum areas, pastoral care, strategic priorities and teaching practice. To maximise the role that schools have in promoting and responding to student wellbeing, these systems, people and initiatives need a high level of school-wide coordination and cohesion.

Partnerships are vital in schools’ support of student wellbeing. Partnerships with students, their parents, whānau, hapū, iwi and the wider community, including professional health and social services have the potential to find solutions to actively improve the wellbeing of all students.

The mandate for this work exists in professional wellbeing frameworks including The Code of Ethics for Registered Teachers, Registered Teacher Criteria, the National Administration Guidelines, United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Vulnerable Children Bill. As such, student wellbeing is not only an ethical and moral obligation for teachers, leaders and trustees, but also a legal responsibility.

While these indicators serve as a tool to help schools improve and respond to student wellbeing, they are more than that. They provide a challenge and opportunity for all New Zealand schools to examine the wellbeing of their students and work to respond to the needs they identify. A challenge to strive to make a difference, strive toward wellbeing for success.

Guides and goals for improving student wellbeing

Wellbeing for success begins with gaining an understanding of what student wellbeing  is.

Student wellbeing is strongly linked to learning. A student’s level of wellbeing at school is indicated by their satisfaction with life at school, their engagement with learning and their social-emotional behaviour. It is enhanced when evidence-informed practices are adopted by schools in partnership with families and community. Optimal student wellbeing is a sustainable state, characterised by predominantly positive feelings and attitude, positive relationships at school, resilience, self-optimism and a high level of satisfaction with learning experiences (Noble et al, 2008, p.30).

This succinct definition provides a basis from which students, parents, whānau, teachers, leaders, and trustees can start to discuss and define what aspects of student wellbeing are most relevant to student strengths and the context of the school.

ERO has identified nine key concepts synonymous with student wellbeing and success. These concepts are described as the desired outcomes for student wellbeing and are referred to throughout the indicators.

Figure 1: Desired outcomes for student wellbeing

 what contributes to student wellbeing, belonging, success, resilience, safe

Students have a sense of belonging and connection to school, to whānau, to friends and the community

Students experience achievement and success

Students are resilient, have the capacity to bounce back

Students are socially and emotionally competent, are socially aware, have good relationships skills, are self-confident, are able to lead, self manage and are responsible decision-makers

Students are physically active and lead healthy lifestyles

Students are nurtured and cared for by teachers at school, have adults to turn to who grow their potential, celebrate their successes, discuss options and work through problems

Students feel safe and secure at school, relationships are valued and expectations are clear

Students are included, involved, engaged, invited to participate and make positive contributions

Students understand their place in the world, are confident in their identity and are optimistic about the future

ERO has developed indicators for schools which present examples of what the desired outcomes for student wellbeing look like from the perspective of students, parents, wha-nau, the community, teachers and school leaders.1

Together with vision and key competencies in The New Zealand Curriculum,2 the desired outcomes for student wellbeing in these indicators provide students, parents, wha-nau teachers, leaders, and trustees with a set of goals to strive for. The desired outcomes should be discussed, refined and tailored to the strengths, interests and aspirations of students, their parents, whānau, and community.

ERO identified five principles as common themes in the evidence and research on effective programmes and initiatives that promote and respond to student wellbeing. The principles strengthen the practices and processes for student wellbeing, are strongly tied to a holistic approach to student wellbeing, and acknowledge student wellbeing as multi-dimensional. The principles are as follows:

Positive and trusting relationships are at the centre of effective efforts to promote student wellbeing, creating a sense of connection and belonging within the school   community.

The strengths of students and their wha-nau are valued and used as the basis for promoting and responding to student wellbeing.

Cohesion across policies, practices, intervention and initiatives contributes to an integrated, joined up, well ‘glued’ and seamless approach to promoting student  wellbeing.

Inquiry is dynamic, considers the school context, utilises a wide range of information sources and acts upon findings to improve student wellbeing, driving improvements in both learning and teaching contexts.

Collaboration enables the inclusion and involvement of students, teachers, leaders, parents, whānau and community in promoting student wellbeing.

Figure 2: Guiding principles for student wellbeing

Guiding principles - strengths, inquiry, collaboration, cohesion, relationships


1     Perspectives on Student Wellbeing are in Section Five.

2     The New Zealand Curriculum vision, principles, values and key competencies are summarised in Appendix B.