Well-being, the true measure of success.

Bringing a smile to education.
Bringing a smile to education.

Has anyone considered the importance of a smile? Whether you teach in a Primary or Secondary School, pupils need to have faith in your ability, trust in your words and a belief in your knowledge however the one thing that breaks down all the barriers is a smile!

We are all under pressure to raise standards in Education. Every school is measured against a number of comparatives and targets. I believe that it is always important to strive to do better however I have no doubt that a pupils well-being is crucial to any success but ironically this is often more difficult to measure effectively. Yes you can use questionnaires, yes you can use a number of surveys or even your curriculum for personal and social well-being but it is more than this. Well-being isn’t easily defined but in an article on the web described as ‘New Economics’ I think they certainly provide the context for the importance of well-being;


‘A successful society is one where economic activity delivers high levels of sustainable well-being for all its citizens. nef has been researching well-being – how people experience their lives and flourish – for over a decade. Our work seeks to understand, measure and positively influence well-being, develop ways of integrating it into policy, and promoting it as an alternative measure of progress.In a detailed research on  well being they questioned,Why is it that many ethnic minorities have much lower levels of well-being that white people in the UK? We found that this is not simply explained by economic and household characteristics – even when these are controlled for there still appears to be a penalty in terms of well-being simply for belonging to many ethnic minorities, particularly for Bangladeshi people. What are the societal causes for this?

What are the optimum working hours for well-being? That may depend to some extent on how one defines well-being, but overall working very long hours appears to have a detrimental effect. It is almost true to say that, for every person in the UK suffering low well-being because of unemployment, there is someone suffering low well-being because of over-employment.

And why is it that some parts of the country seem to have such high well-being and others such low well-being? On the Scottish Islands (the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland), 41% of people have high well-being on all the measures collected in the APS. In Inner London, only 20% – less than half.  This, despite Inner London being the richest part of the UK, and indeed in Europe.’

How is this relevant in Education? Why should we take notice of reports such as the above? In my opinion, it is the well-being of a pupil that can have the greatest impact on the success of a school.

We need to consider our school as a microcosm of society. If we provide pupils with a fair, equal and caring environment then we can then move to the next step which allows us to introduce challenge, encouraging pupils to do their best and have a go.

Unfortunately for many pupils, School is their safest time during the day. School provides many pupils with stability as they try and cope with their turbulent upbringing. This is not determined by class or financial situations but circumstances that they might endure through no fault of their own. Do we really know how our pupils live?

I once taught a disruptive and very frustrated child, it would have been easy to label him as being naughty yet compared to home, School was his safety net and when I realised that his behaviour was always worse at the end of the day it became clear that this was a cry for help.  My understanding of the child allowed me with the support of a number of people to put measures in place to help that child to succeed. His self esteem improved and his behaviour changed.

The impact on the lives of our pupils goes beyond the years they have spent in School,

‘Well-being and education “go together”

By Angela HarrisonEducation correspondent, BBC News

5 July 2012 Last updated at 15:36

People who are better educated are more likely to say they are satisfied with their lives, a study suggests.

And they are more likely to say that the things they do are worthwhile, according toresearch by the Office for National Statistics.’

Yet I would argue that it is more than the role of the School, parents and other members of society have to take responsibility for the well-being of our children.

I would like to return to my opening premise;

A smile allows pupils to understand that they can enjoy the learning experience. A well crafted lesson allows flexibility and responds to the need of the individual. All pupils need to believe that they can make a mistake. The comfort to know that you are allowed to learn from mistakes provides every pupil with a sense of confidence to try, to take the initiative and have a go!

In Welsh their is a song about smiling and my favourite lyric is,

‘Gwena, dyro wen fach imi

Gwena gei di un nol gennyf i….’

Which roughly translated means,

‘Smile, give me a smile

And I will return a smile to you.’

It is important to realise that everything can begin with a smile. It is the crucial element of an ethos of a school and it begins with a member of the management greeting the pupils at the gate or front door. To create a relaxing atmosphere and to believe that all stakeholders have the right to be happy and a happy environment will always impact positively on pupil standards and the quality of teaching and learning.

To put well-being at the heart of the school will lead to success for the individual child. It might not always be measurable but it is essential.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Lyn Schoen says:

    Well said – happiness is the key to a safe and fulfilling learning environment.
    Just found this quote and liked it 🙂
    “Those not worth giving you smiles, should not be given the power to make you cry.”

    1. rjc7 says:

      A fantastic quote, diolch!

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