St Francis Xavier Catholic Primary School Ashbury - students running through courtyardPositive Education and Positive Psychology is set to have a big impact on students at St Francis Xavier Catholic Primary School Ashbury.

A team of teachers are already building lesson plans to encourage students to build 24 positive character traits in line with the research-based practice, led internationally by the Positive Education Schools Association(PESA).

Aimed at encouraging children and staff to actively cultivate good mental health, the initiative assists in meeting the wellbeing requirements of the PDHPE curriculum and will complement the school’s Catholic identity by building children’s self-esteem and sense of awe and wonder at the world around them.

Principal Margaret Morgan brought this psychology back to the school after examining it during a recent sabbatical.

“I started researching: how do we build children’s resilience, how to create not happy children, but children who could cope, who had persistence and determination?” Ms Morgan said, “This came across my desk and it inspired me.”

“We know that mental health is a huge concern for students, not just here but across the nation. This is like a kit of strengths we can give the children.

It’s about upskilling students to become more resilient, more confident, and more capable – so when there’s trauma of any sort they have better skills to tackle it.”

“We know they’re going to have dramas in their life, we can’t protect them from that. But if we can upskill them, they’ll come out the other end in a better place, and this is what we all want.”
Positive education will work alongside an already developed School Wide Positive Behaviour for Learning program (SPBL), which aims to make expectations for behaviour at school clear and simple so all children feel safe and happy at school.

“The two sit side by side,” said Ms Morgan. “You’ll learn better if you have a positive mindset and you feel safe and secure at school.”

Staff have already used resources to test themselves on their aptitude in the 24 character strengths including creativity, perseverance, humour and love of learning. They will soon roll out lessons for their classes to help students do the same, beginning with a focus on gratitude and building thankfulness.