Excellence in wellbeing for all students

Planning and decision-making around enhancing student wellbeing at the local level is vital to meet the needs of each student.

Image: Excellence in wellbeing for all students

Student wellbeing results from many interconnected elements of school and home life. At school, the practices that support student wellbeing involve creating a safe environment; ensuring connectedness; engaging students in their learning; and promoting social and emotional skills. A whole-school approach is important in addressing the interconnected and interdependent nature of wellbeing.

What works Best: 2020 update (CESE)

Policy and context

Our Strategic Plan 2018-2023 identifies student wellbeing as a priority with the goal that ‘Every student is known, valued, and cared for in our schools’, recognising the inextricable link between wellbeing and learning in the context of schooling.

When your students feel that they have someone they can turn to for help and advice, they feel cared for and are supported to achieve their best. We are committed to increasing the proportion of students reporting a sense of belonging, expectations for success and positive advocacy at school.

The Alice Springs (Mparntwe) Education Declaration 2019 states:

Education plays a vital role in promoting the intellectual, physical, social, emotional, moral, spiritual and aesthetic development and wellbeing of young Australians.

These are the domains of the NSW Wellbeing framework for schools through which NSW public school students are supported to connect, succeed and thrive.

Student wellbeing matters

CESE's What works best: 2020 update outlines the pivotal role of wellbeing on impacting student outcomes at school and beyond school: ‘Evidence shows that higher levels of wellbeing are linked to higher academic achievement, school completion, better overall mental health and a more pro-social and responsible lifestyle’. Research includes implications for school planning.

The School Excellence Framework (SEF) states: ‘In schools that excel, there is a strategic and planned approach to develop whole school wellbeing processes that support the wellbeing of all students so they can connect, succeed, thrive and learn.’

The Wellbeing framework for schools facilitates a planned approach to wellbeing using evidence-based strategies that are strengths based, preventative and focus on early intervention. This includes strengthening students’ cognitive, physical, social, emotional and spiritual wellbeing domains of development. Schools will achieve this through planning and decision-making at the local level to meet the needs of their students.

Wellbeing for every student

Wellbeing in schools is for all students. A focus on wellbeing goes beyond just welfare needs of a few individual students and aims for all students to be healthy, happy, successful and productive individuals who are active and positive contributors to the school and society in which they live.

An individual’s wellbeing is constantly changing. How students feel about themselves and their own wellbeing changes over time, in different situations and circumstances, and in response to community and environmental factors.

Wellbeing, or the lack of it, can affect a student’s engagement and success in learning. Educators need to understand the potential wellbeing has to bring about positive change, what is required to foster wellbeing, and how it can become a powerful force in each student's learning and development.

Research consistently identifies core elements that affect student wellbeing. These can be grouped broadly into the following:

  • creating a safe environment
  • ensuring connectedness - sense of belonging
  • engaging students in learning
  • promoting social and emotional learning
  • a whole school approach.

While the SEF explicitly references wellbeing in 1 of the 14 elements, wellbeing is inextricably linked throughout the framework. Wellbeing programs and processes can be assessed throughout the elements of the learning, teaching and leading domains.

Complexity within school environments

All schools are complex and each school has its own unique set of characteristics and challenges that impact on student wellbeing and learning.

Understanding complexity can help schools make effective planning decisions to address some specific areas of need. Identifying those factors is the first step in being able to ensure that appropriate supports are in place in the school for your students to learn and grow. Principals, and school leaders, can access additional information to inform their planning on the School Dashboard in Scout.

Learn more

Find out more about School Excellence in Action.


  • Teaching and learning


  • Accessibility
  • Behaviour
  • Health, safety and wellbeing
  • Safety inspections
  • School Excellence Framework

Business Unit:

  • School Performance – South
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