Nearly all school leaders have aspirations for their school – they want the best for their students, teachers and school community.

As we know the culture of schools differs. While some schools have developed a positive vision that determines everyday actions and interactions, others spend their time fire-fighting. Many principals find themselves either dealing with irate and demanding parents, challenging or disengaged students, stressed and exhausted staff, or demands from on high. Inconsistency and short-term crisis management often become the order of the day. In this environment some students achieve great academic results, though few are really flourishing – and neither are their teachers.

I was at a conference last week and had conversations with several parents about their child’s educational experiences.

One said, “I loved my child’s school, they really ‘got’ her, understood who she was as a individual. That made all the difference.”

Another said, “My son was just a cog in a wheel, like his teachers. When I went to talk to them about the difficulties he was having they couldn’t find anything to say that was positive, he couldn’t wait to get out of there.”

My own research and experience on student and school wellbeing over several decades has taught me a great deal about what needs to happen for everyone to flourish in an educational environment and both do and give their best. It is all about good relationships and high expectations, the same factors that promote wellbeing and resilience.

When principals and school leadership teams take the time to define their vision, and imagine what their ideal organisation and school community would look, sound and feel like, they create clear foundations on which to make decisions and take action. This involves agreeing the values that will underpin school culture and identifying priorities. They can then work with staff to put in place the things that will make the most difference for their whole school community.

When wellbeing is at the core of this vision everything else follows. It leads to better student engagement and academic outcomes for all, more motivated staff, increased pro-social behaviour and greater resilience. In short, a much happier and better achieving school in which each individual matters. We need to cherish our teachers and help our children flourish in all aspects of their lives.

Positive Education now has traction across Australia. Many of our privileged schools are following the lead of Geelong Grammar in cultivating whole school wellbeing. We have a mountain of Australian expertise that can contribute to this exciting new vision for education for all our children in all our schools. The Growing Great Schools initiative helps school leaders create, nurture and achieve their unique visions, helping them be the best school they can be.

The vision is your groundwork, your values are part of this and are the seeds you need to plant. Identifying your values in Step Two towards growing great schools. We’ll address this in the next Growing Great Schools blog.

Get started by taking the School Wellbeing Check, browse our upcoming courses, or book a free consultation with one of our Growing Great Schools consultants.