Schools are complex and busy places charged with the responsibility of teaching an increasingly complex curriculum to a diverse range of students. Wide ranging pressures and an overcrowded curriculum alongside competing and changing priorities, means that the softer skills such as relationship development, wellbeing pedagogy, and socio-emotional regulation tends to either occur reactively if at all or is relegated to add-on programs rather than deeply embedded in the pedagogy of the school.
Voice and Wellbeing is a key focus area because we know that positive school cultures and teacher-student relationships are key protective factors. However, schools are also places where young people experience bullying and peer/teacher aggression. Rates of bullying, anxiety, depression and violence are higher in schools with low student ratings of connectedness to school and teachers. Mental health problems are rising rapidly amongst school students (as well as teachers and principals) and schools are beginning to employ student voice to help identify and address factors affecting students’ wellbeing.
Researchers in C4IE’s Voice and Wellbeing Program investigate the many varied components that contribute to positive school environments, including:
- Children’s rights, student voice, participation and representation
- Intersection between digital technologies, student safety and wellbeing, including cyberbullying, social media, mobile phones in schools
- Connectedness between students, teachers, school, community and culture
- Safety, protection and risk at school including bullying, restraint, seclusion, school violence, restorative and restrictive practices, classroom management, school climate, absenteeism, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and suicide
- Programs and interventions including; Positive Behaviour Intervention Supports, resilience programs, trauma-informed practices, and school wellbeing initiatives
- Teachers’ emotional management, burnout and wellbeing