Adapting to a Changing Society: Evaluating an Innovative Well-being curriculum for Year 9 Students in an East Midlands School.

Schools are one of the most important developmental contexts in children’s lives.  Within schools, relationships with peers, staff and the overall school culture are integrally linked with a range of student well-being and mental health outcomes (Way et al., 2007).

As our society recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic, and addresses challenges ranging from the state of our economy to healthcare, education and the environment, the issue of well-being is in sharp focus.  Schools are central to students’ physical and mental health, and so commitment to creating a nourishing environment which cultivates well-being is of critical concern for school leaders.  To address this issue, school leaders are increasingly interested in exploring innovative approaches to promoting well-being in their schools.  This paper reports on one such exploration.

The aim of the study was to develop and evaluate a well-being curriculum aimed at Year 9 students in one school in the East Midlands.  The curriculum was developed by the author and included lessons on character strengths (Peterson and Seligman, 2004), cognitive science, stress and social influence.  Some lessons were also inspired by Heroic Imagination Project (Zimbardo, 2014).

The methodology used in this paper is a teacher inquiry involving the teacher-researcher’s active participation investigation process. Data gathered from qualitative research methods, interviews, questionnaires, and self-reflection diaries were analysed to evaluate the wellbeing initiative.

The overall results showed that the well-being curriculum fostered positive relationships within the school community.  The intervention not only had a positive impact on the students but also on the teachers who delivered the curriculum.  The initiative also allowed the author to influence the whole-school strategy well-being strategy.