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Issues in Education

Alethea Scorse

Assignment 1: Reflective Journal (Part One)

Topic 1, Question 1
In your own words define what health and wellbeing is in relation to young people in
Australia. What are some of the key health issues and factors that impact on young
peoples health and wellbeing? (250 words)
Health and wellbeing in relation to young people in Australia is multidimensional and
dynamic. Health is the quality of ones physical, developmental and mental states, while
wellbeing relates to a balance of mental, emotional, social, cultural and spiritual dimensions.
An overarching impact on young peoples health and wellbeing is the current ever-changing,
highly technological and consumerist society, in which ones sense of connection can be lost.
Connection is key to wellbeing (Vincent, 2005). A sense of connectedness is dependent upon
young peoples relationships with parents, teachers and peers (Commonwealth of Australia,
2007), in which, levels of respect and care are crucial (ARACY, 2013).
Wellbeing is also dependent on the presence of a positive school environment
(Commonwealth of Australia, 2007), which includes opportunities for contribution and
participation (ARACY, 2013), reasonable expectations (Vincent, 2005) and fair behavioral
management and teaching practices (Commonwealth of Australia, 2007). A positive school
environment includes academic, social, emotional and cognitive learning (Vincent, 2005).
Social, emotional and cognitive learning affects a young persons ability to build resilience,
which is key to wellbeing (Vincent, 2005). Socioeconomic status affects the health of young
people. Low socioeconomic status has been linked with higher rates of smoking, lack of
exercise, poor diet, morbidity, mortality and an increased incidence of physical assault
(Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2007, as cited in Wyn, 2009).
Therefore, the health and wellbeing of young Australians is much more multifaceted than one
may initially perceive. Significant influences include teachers and school environments,
which impact students sense of connectedness, in a highly technological, fast paced and
consumerist society and socioeconomic status.

Issues in Education

Alethea Scorse

Topic 2, Question 2
What is meant by a settings-based approach to wellbeing? Discuss a key framework
that promotes and strengthens young peoples wellbeing in schools. (250 words)
A settings based approach to wellbeing, is a method of protecting and promoting wellbeing in
ones daily place or social context (WHO, as cited in Weare, 2010), referring to the
environment in which people live and work (Ashton, n.d.). A settings based approach is
holistic (Glover & Butler, 2004), considering social, emotional and mental dimensions within
ones environment. Thus, a school can be seen as the setting for young people. A setting
based approach in schools is concerned with promoting connectedness, positive relationships
with the community, teachers and peers, fair treatment, respect and a stimulating learning
environment (Glover & Butler, 2004).
The National Safe Schools Framework (Standing Council on School Education and Early
Childhood, 2010) promotes and strengthens young peoples wellbeing in schools. The
framework is an example of a whole school approach, as it includes all aspects of the
teaching and learning communities which impact on wellbeing and highlights the link
between wellbeing and learning. The framework successfully recognises the
multidimensional nature of wellbeing, which involves intellectual physical, social, emotional,
moral and spiritual dimensions (Standing Council on School Education and Early Childhood,
2010). However, the framework does explain wellbeing as clearly as the new DEC
framework (Australian Education Ministers, 2008). The framework outlines significant
wellbeing influences, including recognition, which involves feeling safe, cared for, respected,
supported and valued (Standing Council on School Education and Early Childhood, 2010).
Importantly, the framework supports the promotion and prevention of loss of wellbeing. The
framework is relevant students, as it considers 21st century issues, for example, cyberbullying.
The framework is an excellent resource which links to the Safe Schools Hub website which
contains resources for students, teachers and parents.

Issues in Education

Alethea Scorse

Topic 3, Question 3
Which classroom practices would you employ as a teacher to promote wellbeing in the
classroom? Why would you use these practices? (250 words)
To promote wellbeing, one must strengthen students relationships, promote social and
emotional learning and use recognition. Students place high importance on family and peer
relationships, in relation to wellbeing (Graham, Fitzgerald, Powell, Thomas, Anderson, White
& Simmons, 2014). Classroom practices which strengthen these relationships would include
cooperative learning, which requires communication and collaborative effort (Australian
Government Department of Health & Ageing, 2013) and generates emotional bonding
between students (Gillies, Ashman & Terwel, 2007).
Ongoing communication with parents would be used to involve parents in classroom
learning. Parents would be invited to participate in school events, which has been shown to
improve student behavior, self-esteem and attitudes towards school (Christenson & Havsy,
2004; Patrikakou, Weissberg, Redding, & Walberg, 2005, as cited in Albright, & Weissberg,
2010). Building this sense of community has been shown to create a positive learning
environment (Evertson et al., 2003; Good & Brophy, 1997 as cited in Norris, 2003), which is
essential to wellbeing.
A classroom which promotes wellbeing also requires recognition. Recognition means
students should feel cared for, respected and valued (D. Anderson, personal communication,
July 27, 2016). One must show non-conditional acceptance for every student. There must be
opportunities for students to actively participate, contribute, be listened to and take on
leadership roles. Students want to have a voice, be active learners (NSW Department of
Education and Communities, 2015), be recognised as valued individuals and have
opportunities for self-expression (Wagoner, 2004).
Thus, students would have strong relationships with those who are important to them and
experience a sense of community at school. Students would also experience recognition
within the classroom. Both of these practices have been shown to promote student wellbeing.

Issues in Education

Alethea Scorse

Extended Response Reflection for Module 1

Schools play a vital role in promoting the intellectual, physical, social, emotional,
moral, spiritual and aesthetic development and wellbeing of young Australians.
(MCEETYA, 2008, p. 4).
Drawing upon published sources of opinion and data, what in your considered opinion
are the strengths and weaknesses of schools in Australia in promoting the wellbeing of
young Australians. (1000 words)

Australian schools have areas of strength and weakness in relation to promoting the
wellbeing of young Australians. Areas of strength include child protection and the wealth of
wellbeing frameworks, resources and partnerships with external agencies. However,
weaknesses exist in areas such as teacher wellbeing, which impacts on students, the heavy
workload and the limited amount of time teachers have to meet students wellbeing needs and
the inadequate amount of social and emotional learning in schools.

Australian schools have strong child protection policies which all members of schools must
abide by (NSW Department of Education and Communities, 2014). All Australian teachers
must complete a Working with Childrens Check, Child Protection check and a National
Police Check to be able to teach. Child protection curriculum information to teach students
about child protection issues is available through the Australian Government Department of
Education website. Child protection learning is expected to be included in Physical
Development, Health and Physical Education (PDHPE) classes (New South Wales
Department of Education Student Welfare Directorate, 1997). The PDHPE curriculum has
been developed to include issues which affect student wellbeing, such as growth and
development, relationships, health choices and safety, self-esteem and values (New South
Wales Department of Education Student Welfare Directorate, 1997). Aside from the PDHPE
curriculum, the wellbeing frameworks used by schools focus on a whole school approach to

Issues in Education

Alethea Scorse

Another strength of Australian schools in promoting the wellbeing of students is the use of
strong wellbeing frameworks and partnerships with agencies which support wellbeing.
Australian schools are guided by the National Safe Schools Framework. The Safe Schools
National framework is expanded on the Safe Schools Hub website, which gives students
access to their own section of the website containing resources concerning wellbeing,
including information about bullying, values, eating disorders, sexuality, alcohol and various
other relevant issues. The website also offers resources for teachers and parents to support the
wellbeing of young people. Additionally, there is a government anti-bullying framework used
by schools and a new and relevant Department of Education and Communities Wellbeing
Framework, among various other significant wellbeing frameworks in practice. In regards to
wellbeing support for students, schools have counsellors, pastoral care and partnerships with
external agencies (New South Wales Department of Education Student Welfare Directorate,
1997). In all States and Territories, student support services exist, including partnerships with
agencies such as Beyond Blue, The Department of Community Services, the Advocate for
Children and Young people and various others (NSW government, 2016).

However, weaknesses of schools in promoting wellbeing do exist. Weaknesses include a lack

teacher wellbeing, which has an effect on student wellbeing. The busy workload given to
teachers results in inadequate time to meet students wellbeing needs. There is also
inadequate social and emotional learning within schools.

The lack of focus on the wellbeing of teachers, has a flow on effect to the wellbeing of
students (F. MacCallum, personal communication, August 3, 2016). Teachers require positive
wellbeing to promote student wellbeing (McCallum, 2010). Poor teacher wellbeing is
occurring due to the changing nature of teaching, including declining status of teachers
(louden, 2008; Moon, 2007 as cited in Norris, 2003), increased focus on standards resulting
in anxiety and stress, heavy workloads, increased global competition, unrealistic
expectations, negative media reports and many other factors. These factors can lead to teacher
burn out. This is resulting in lower job satisfaction and has a negative impact on teachers
work and relationships with students (McCallum, 2010).

Issues in Education

Alethea Scorse

Teachers experience a lack of time, due to heavy workloads, which results in inadequate time
to build positive relationships with students (D. Anderson, personal communication, July 27,
2016). In a study conducted by the Centre for Children and Young people, students identified
conversation as being foundational to their wellbeing at school and desired opportunities and
time for conversation with teachers, rather than brief irregular conversations (Graham,
Fitzgerald, Powell, Thomas, Anderson, White & Simmons, 2014). While teachers recognise
that students need time for communication, they feel helpless in changing the current

It is a reasonable argument by McCallum (2010) that schools are not meeting the needs of
students or preparing them for the future world. This is because social and emotional learning
does not fully permeate the policies, curricula, instruction and interactions of all who work
and learn (Elias, Arnold, & Hussey, 2003 as cited in Norris, 2003) in schools. As a result of
this, teachers are not adequately aligned with students social and emotional needs. For
instance, a study conducted by the Centre for Children and Young People, found teachers
ranked their own relationship with students as being the most important to students, whereas
students ranked their relationship with their parents as being more important (Graham,
Fitzgerald, Powell, Thomas, Anderson, White & Simmons, 2014). While Australian schools
do address student wellbeing, there is inadequate social and emotional learning. The leading
cause of death for young people in Australia is suicide and suicide rates in the overall
Australian population are higher for young people than any other age group (Australian
Bureau of Statistics, 2016).

Therefore, Australian schools have multiple areas of strengths and weaknesses in regards to
promoting student wellbeing. In this fast paced, ever changing, highly consumerist and
technological society, the wellbeing needs of young Australians is fluid, ever changing and
extremely important. With the leading cause of death of young Australians being suicide
(Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2016), it is clear that further strengthening of the
implementation of wellbeing practices in schools is required to improve the wellbeing of
young Australians.

Issues in Education

Alethea Scorse


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Issues in Education

Alethea Scorse

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Issues in Education

Alethea Scorse

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Issues in Education

Alethea Scorse

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