The report Making a difference to student wellbeing has synthesised data from schools that used the Wellbeing@school online tools between 2013 and 2016.

Senior researcher in charge of the study Sally Boyd says that one of the prime aims of the scholarship was to help both students and teachers understand the issues that their school was experiencing.

“Student wellbeing is central to students’ success at school and in adult life… We wanted to connect the student and teacher data from the same schools, and present this data in a way that gives teachers and schools guidance on what they can do to make a difference.”

Analysis of the data that the NZCER collected demonstrates strong connections between classroom teaching strategies and a students’ sense of their own wellbeing, and between school-wide strategies and less aggressive and bullying behaviour.

“Practices such as praising students for helpful and caring behaviour, and teaching students strategies for managing their feelings and emotions have a positive impact on student wellbeing,” says Boyd.

“This study showed that schools that had lower levels of aggressive behaviour had more focus on school-wide actions. Teachers reported these schools had practices that promoted a wellbeing culture, demonstrated collaborative leadership, offered support for students, and prioritised staff development… These practices were backed up with effective policies and procedures relating to behaviour.”

Making a difference

One of the outcomes of the NZCER research has been a helpful infographic that summarises the findings. The infographic is clear about one of the central ideas behind the drive to improve student wellbeing: that “a sense of wellbeing is central to students’ success at school and in life.”

Many comparison statistics paint the New Zealand education landscape in a favourable light; we’re generally recognised as having one of the best systems in the world. One number that we should be roused into action by though is the fact that New Zealand has very high rates of bullying compared with other countries. When we consider that bullying is a common factor in youth suicide, the urgency of the problem becomes undeniably stark – we have one of the highest youth suicide rates among OECD countries.

The infographic makes clear that the first step is finding out what’s happening at your school, and clarifies that bullying isn’t just one type of behaviour, and presents some of the main findings of the NZCER research, which can then inform strategy. Some of the main points are:

  • What schools do makes a difference: schools with higher levels of student wellbeing have lower levels of aggressive behaviour.
  • Student wellbeing varies widely between schools
  • What teachers do in the classroom makes a difference to student wellbeing
  • School-wide actions and culture make a difference to the prevalence of aggressive and bullying behaviour.

The Wellbeing@School tools are only available to NZ registered schools. Find out more at Read about the Making a difference research and link to the infographic report.


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