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Winmalee High School

Winmalee High School

A positive education and positive behaviour for learning school

Telephone02 4754 2822

Positive education

Winmalee High is a Positive Education school. This is an approach to student learning and wellbeing that stems from positive psychology and applies it in a school setting. Positive psychology studies what is going right with the human mind and behaviour and examines how to foster this. It takes a proactive and preventative approach designed to complement the focus of traditional psychology on fixing illness and problems. Similarly, Positive Education is about increasing wellbeing to help students thrive at school and in life more generally. At Winmalee High, we use the World Health Organisation's definition of wellbeing which describes this as a state in which an individual realises his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community."

The evidence behind positive education

Dr Paula Robinson is a leading Australian researcher in the field of positive education. According to Dr Robinson, a groundbreaking study by the University of Western Australia encompassing over 6000 families has suggested mental illness is on the increase in our youth. In response, Dr Robinson states that, treatment alone is not enough; there is a clear and urgent need to attack mental illness not only from a reactive lens but also a need to establish evidence based initiatives that work in conjunction with treatment to provide proactive, preventative interventions to enhance positive mental health and wellbeing.

Dr Robinson has examined the benefits of positive education and states that research suggests that wellbeing is well worth improving for its own sake as well as the goal of preventing mental illness. For example, higher levels of wellbeing in teaching staff and students can provide positive and measurable outcomes, for example, higher grade point average (GPA), better academic engagement, social/emotional skills and pro-social behaviours. For more information please visit positive times' website.

Positive education at Winmalee High School

Winmalee High School uses the PERMAH model developed by psychologist Martin Seligman to implement Positive Education. We also align our approach with the NSW Department of Education Wellbeing Framework for Schools.

The PERMAH model divides wellbeing into six components. It is about building:

  • Positive emotions - experiencing emotions such as joy, hope, connectedness, happiness, and curiosity.
  • Engagement - the state of being when students are absorbed, mastery. eg engagement in the classroom.
  • Relationships - connections with others, genuine friendships
  • Meaning - purpose and value, connecting life's tasks to a broader meaning
  • Accomplishment - making progress towards realistic goals
  • Health - proper nutrition, sleep, physical activity

The school has examined the various policies and practices undertaken to address student wellbeing at Winmalee High. We have mapped these in the PERMAH categories to see if we are meeting the various components of wellbeing and where any gaps may lie.

Seligman's model is PERMA but the 'H' is a common addition to include the area of Health.

Growth mindset

Assisting students to develop a growth mindset has been a focus for the school in implementing positive education over the past two years. It is just one part of positive education and sits in the area of accomplishment.

We have used the research of Carol Dweck, to help students understand how we learn and become more successful at school and in life beyond. Over 30 years ago, Carol Dweck and her colleagues became interested in students' attitudes about failure. They noticed that some students rebounded while other students seemed devastated by even the smallest setbacks. After studying the behaviour of thousands of children, Dr Dweck coined the terms fixed mindset and growth mindset to describe the underlying beliefs people have about learning and intelligence. When students believe they can get smarter, they understand that effort makes them stronger; therefore they put in extra time and effort, and that leads to higher achievement.

At Winmalee High, we actively promote the beliefs and behaviours that lead to a growth mindset. We do not focus on labeling students as having fixed or growth mindsets because we recognise that people often demonstrates characteristics of both in different situations. Our focus is on actively teaching and fostering growth mindset behaviours such taking risks in learning, engaging in deliberate practice, accepting and applying feedback, and persevering through challenges. These behaviours are encouraged through our reporting system.



Growth mindset resources

For more information regarding the growth mindset, please download:

Stronger Families Alliance

Blue Mountains Stronger Families Alliance

Winmalee High School works with Blue Mountains Stronger Families Alliance (The Alliance) to promote the wellbeing of our students.  The Alliance is a group of community members and service providers in the Blue Mountains who are committed to making the Blue Mountains a great place for children and young people to live, go to school, and work. 

Visit the website to find out more about The Alliance. 

Information about the Resilience and Wellbeing Survey our students participate in to inform support and planning can be viewed in the 2021 Parent Carer notice Resilience and Wellbeing Survey (PDF 166 KB).