The effective practice described in this report shows the variety of ways a group of primary and secondary schools promoted and responded to student wellbeing. They did this by carefully cultivating a positive school culture, based on values determined, understood and shared by their community. By being proactive about developing a strong culture of wellbeing, leaders in these schools were in a good position to respond to any issues or crises that arose.
School leaders and their communities had a clear vision of what student wellbeing meant in their context. This was always a holistic view, with the students as active participants in creating the culture of wellbeing. Students, their parents and whānau, teachers, leaders and the wider communities collaborated to develop a set of values that aligned with their vision of wellbeing.
The values tied all aspects of school practice together. They were integrated into everything school leaders and teachers did: from strategic planning, development of policies, school systems, relationships throughout the community and into the classroom. Values were evident in the schools' vision, goals, priorities and curriculum. This cohesion across systems, attitudes and actions provided clear and consistent expectations for behaviour.
Programmes to promote wellbeing were planned for in the curriculum. Values were explored explicitly and underpinned a restorative, instead of a punitive, approach to dealing with problems. Students were expected and supported to show leadership. They knew that their opinions were heard and were used in decision making.
School leaders effectively used multiple sources of evidence to find out about both individual and overall student wellbeing. They were able to identify vulnerable students and areas for improvement, and so were able to act appropriately as needed. Leaders recognised that enhancing student wellbeing was a shared responsibility and that partnerships with whānau, the community and relevant support services were vital.
While each aspect of the guiding principles for student wellbeing is important,1 what set these schools with good wellbeing practices apart was the consistency, coherence and balance across each of the principles. All parts of a school system - including leaders, teachers and support staff, students, parents, whānau and the wider community - worked together towards a shared vision of wellbeing to ensure opportunities to learn and thrive for all students. Appropriate systems, programmes and initiatives, curriculum, policies and plans underpinned the vision.