Students’ well-being và their success in and outside school depend on their ability lớn use their competences for democratic culture.

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Since well-being has many facets, improving students’ well-being in schools requires a whole-school approach, involving both teachers and parents.

Schools should provide lessons focused on the responsible use of the Internet, the need to adopt a healthy lifestyle and how lớn prevent or cope with health problems, in collaboration with those involved, including health and social services, local authorities and civil society organisations.

Facts & figures

About 60% of school students report getting very tense when they study.<1>

Just over 60% of girls & 40% boys say they feel very anxious about doing tests at school, even when they are well prepared.<2>

Over 70% of parents say they would choose to lớn send their children lớn a school with below-average exam results if students were happy there.<3>

What is well-being?

Well-being is the experience of health và happiness. It includes mental và physical health, physical and emotional safety, & a feeling of belonging, sense of purpose, achievement và success.

Well-being is a broad concept và covers a range of psychological and physical abilities. Five major types of well-being are said to be:

Emotional well-being – the ability lớn be resilient, manage one’s emotions và generate emotions that lead lớn good feelingsPhysical well-being – the ability khổng lồ improve the functioning of one’s toàn thân through healthy eating and good exercise habitsSocial well-being – the ability lớn communicate, develop meaningful relationships with others và create one’s own emotional support networkWorkplace well-being – the ability lớn pursue one’s own interests, beliefs & values in order to gain meaning and happiness in life & professional enrichmentSocietal well-being – the ability khổng lồ participate in an active community or culture.

Overall well-being depends on all these types of functioning khổng lồ an extent.<4>

“Having meaning and purpose is integral to lớn people’s sense of well-being. Well-being involves far more than happiness, and accomplishments go far beyond thử nghiệm success.”<5>

Why is well-being important at school?

Well-being is important at school because schools have an essential role to play in supporting students to lớn make healthy lifestyle choices and understand the effects of their choices on their health và well-being. Childhood and adolescence is a critical period in the development of long-term attitudes towards personal well-being and lifestyle choices. The social and emotional skills, knowledge & behaviours that young people learn in the classroom help them build resilience & set the pattern for how they will manage their physical và mental health throughout their lives.

Schools are able to provide students with reliable information và deepen their understanding of the choices they face. They are also able to provide students with the intellectual skills required to reflect critically on these choices and on the influences that society brings to lớn bear on them, including through peer pressure, advertising, social media and family and cultural values.

There is a direct link between well-being & academic achievement and vice versa, i.e. Well-being is a crucial prerequisite for achievement và achievement is essential for well-being. Physical activity is associated with improved learning & the ability khổng lồ concentrate. Strong, supportive relationships provide students with the emotional resources to lớn step out of their intellectual ‘comfort zone’ và explore new ideas và ways of thinking, which is fundamental lớn educational achievement.

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Well-being is also important for developing important democratic competences. Positive emotions are associated with the development of flexibility và adaptability, openness to other cultures and beliefs, self-efficacy & tolerance of ambiguity, all of which lie at the heart of the Council of Europe Reference Framework of Competences for Democratic Culture.

What are the challenges?

One of the challenges of trying to lớn promote young people’s well-being in school is the multi-faceted nature of well-being. There are a number of different types of well-being, all of which need khổng lồ be promoted lớn some extent to lớn create an overall sense of well-being in a person. So, it is not possible to lớn improve students’ well-being at school through single interventions or activities. Rather it requires the development of a ‘culture’ of well-being throughout the whole school & the active involvement of the whole staff, teaching và non-teaching, which can be difficult lớn achieve.

The promotion of well-being may sometimes appear to lớn conflict with other school priorities, such as academic standards. Unreasonably high expectations, a regime of constant testing or an over-emphasis on the importance of academic performance may actually undermine student well-being.

In many cases schools do not have the freedom to lớn make the changes to lớn school life which might most benefit student well-being. They may have little control, for example, over formal examinations & tests, the content of curricula, the length of the school day or the physical school environment.

Nor have schools control over the many out-of-school influences on student well-being. What happens in the trang chủ and the family, local communities or social truyền thông media can have as much, if not more, influence on student well-being as anything in school.

Finally, developing a sense of well-being in students is made all the more difficult when school staff themselves vì chưng not have a positive sense of well-being. Well-being at work is strongly related to lớn stress. Bức xúc at work is related to workload, quality of professional relationships, level of autonomy, clarity about one’s role, availability of tư vấn and the opportunity khổng lồ be involved in changes which affect one’s professional life. High levels of găng can lead to lớn demotivation, lack of job satisfaction và poor physical & mental health, which has a knock-on effect on students’ own well-being.

How can schools get active?

Addressing student well-being at school begins with helping students feel they are each known & valued as an individual in her or his own right, & that school life has a meaning and purpose for them. This can be achieved in a variety of small ways, the cumulative effect of which can have a very powerful influence on students’ sense of well-being. These include:

providing opportunities for all members of the school community to participate in meaningful decision-making in school, e.g. Through consultations, opinion surveys, referenda, electing class representatives, student parliaments, focus groups, in-class feedback on learning activities, and an element of student choice in relation to topics taught and teaching methods used;developing a welcoming environment where everyone at school can feel supported và safe through access lớn meaningful activities, e.g. Clubs, societies, interest groups và associations dealing with issues of concern lớn young people, including health;taking steps to lớn reduce the anxiety students feel about examinations & testing through the introduction of less stressful forms of assessment, e.g. Formative assessment, peer assessment & involving students in the identification of their own assessment needs;using teaching methods that contribute to a positive classroom climate and well-being, e.g. Cooperative learning, student-centred methods, self-organised time, outdoor activities;finding curriculum opportunities to lớn talk about well-being issues with students, e.g. Healthy eating, exercise, substance abuse, positive relationships;integrating democratic citizenship and education for intercultural understanding into different school subjects và extra-curricular activities, e.g. Openness to other cultures in Religious Education, knowledge and critical understanding of human rights in Social Science, empathy in Literature;introducing student-led forms of conflict management & approaches to lớn bullying and harassment, e.g. Peer mediation, restorative justice;improving the physical environment of the school khổng lồ make it more student-friendly, e.g. New furniture và fittings, carpeted areas, appropriate colour schemes, safe toilet areas, recreational areas;encouraging healthier eating by providing healthy options in the school canteen, e.g. Avoiding high amounts of sugar, saturated fats & salt;working with parents lớn enhance students’ achievement and sense of purpose in school, e.g. On healthy food, safe internet use & home-school communications.

Individual initiatives like these can be brought together at the whole-school màn chơi through a policy development process which ‘mainstreams’ well-being as a school issue. This means giving attention lớn the potential effects of new policies on individual well-being - of students, teachers & others. Addressing student well-being at school always goes hand in hand with kích hoạt to protect the health and well-being of teachers & other staff at school.

<1> OECD (2017). PISA 2015 Results (Volume III), p.40. Students’ Well-Being. Paris, France: OECD Publishing.

<2> Ibid.

<3> Cowburn & Blow, ‘Wise up - Prioritising wellbeing in schools’

<4> Psychology Today, January 2019.

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<5> Hargreaves và Shirley (2018), ‘Well-being và Success. Opposites that need to lớn attract’.