Revesby South Public School

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Positive Education

Positive Education

Revesby South has begun the first steps to become a Positive Education school. 

What is Positive Education?

Positive Education is an approach that develops an educational environment that acknowledges the importance of, and teaches the skills required to enhance wellbeing and character development as an essential component of academic achievement and personal flourishing over an individual’s lifetime. It brings together the science of positive psychology with best practice teaching to encourage and support schools and individuals within their communities to flourish.

Positive Psychology is the fundamental basis in which Positive Education is built from. Professor Martin Seligman is generally considered the founder of Positive Psychology. In his address to the American Psychological Association over twenty years ago, he encouraged his colleagues to move back to their roots, which were to make the lives of all people more fulfilling and productive rather than just focusing on a disease model of curing mental illness.

The diagram below displays a number scale from -10 to +10. Seligman proposed, rather than just focussing on those who are languishing, for example a -7 and getting them to a 0. Positive Psychology and by extension Positive Education, focuses on a larger group of people at a 0 and moving them towards +6 or higher. That is, moving towards an area of flourishing and optimal human functioning. This does not mean we neglect those who are struggling with their wellbeing, but more we are building capacity of everyone to improve their wellbeing, no matter where they are on the scale.


A question that is sometimes asked is whether schools are an appropriate place to teach wellbeing. From the standpoint of maximising reach and impact, we believe the answer is ‘yes’. Schools are influential institutions that have contact with large numbers of young people on a regular basis. From the standpoint of moral behaviour and character development, schools are also in a position to inspire students and staff, to cultivate character and virtues that assist us all to become caring, responsible and productive people in society.

Positive Education is not ‘replacing parenting’ – parents will always be the first teachers of wellbeing and character development. However, we believe the school is in a strong position to complement and support your positive parenting in an educational setting.

Positive Education is not ‘happyology’ – indeed, it is generally acknowledged that the pursuit of happiness as an end in itself rarely leads to lasting and genuine contentment or wellbeing. Undeniably, hardship, unhappiness and struggle are normal and healthy elements of the human condition. It is not about putting on a smile every day, but is rather about building and relying upon skills such as optimism and resilience when faced with a difficult, upsetting or challenging situation.

The goal of Positive Education is to create a community where students and staff learn the skills to become their best possible selves, evolving toward their highest potential.

RSPS Flourishing Model

Below is our draft version of the school’s Flourishing Model. We will work with the community (students, staff and parents) to provide opportunities to improve these aspects in our day to day life via various programs and approaches.

R.S.P.S Positive Education Model

At the centre, our goal is for every student, staff and community member to work towards flourishing. That is to lead a life that is fulfilling, happy and with contentment or to have the things that makes life worth living.

Surrounding our goal of Flourishing is Character Strengths. We are all people of character. Each of us have varying degrees of certain traits that are admired and respected by others. They are called ‘character strengths’. Modern research has discovered that there are 24 central character strengths in human beings, each falling under larger categories called virtues. We use our character strengths to build our own personal and social development. They are also protective factors that help prevent problems and promote thriving and flourishing.

Click here to read more about character strengths.

Surrounding character strengths is the acronym PERMA FUSE.  PERMA is possibly the most well-known model of wellbeing developed by Martin Seligman – it is our belief and goal that the fusion of all these elements will enable students, staff and the community to flourish.

These are:

Positive emotion – experience positive emotions such as happiness, contentment, pride, serenity, hope, optimism, trust, confidence and gratitude- THINK GOOD;

Engagement – immersing oneself deeply in activities that use one’s strengths to experience flow, an optimal state marked with razor-sharp concentration, intense focus, and intrinsic motivation to further develop- FOCUS INTENTLY;

Relationships – having positive, secure, and trusting relationships- CONNECT HEARTS & MINDS;

Meaning – belonging to and serving something with a sense of purpose and belief that is larger than the self- DISCOVER PURPOSE; and

Accomplishment – pursuing success, mastery, competence, and achievement for its own sake- STRIVE TO SUCCEED.

Since the development of this theory, it has been suggested that a physical health component is also essential to our mental wellbeing. We have broken this into three areas.

Food – eating well helps reduce the risk of physical health problems- EAT HEALTHY;

Sleep – regular sleep patterns can support mental wellbeing and recovery- REST & RECOVER; and

Exercise – can help sharpen memory, improve sleep, produce more energy and reduce negative moods and improve cognitive function- MOVE REGULARLY.

Cultural Understanding – focuses on our place in the world and developing respect for our own and other cultures which helps to identify and build connections together as one people, working together for each other- TOGETHER AS ONE.

On the outside of our model are the three pillars of the Department of Education Wellbeing Framework. This represents our alignment with the education system and that despite our own focus and goal for every student to flourish, we also align with the Department’s goal of every student being known, valued and cared for.

We are tremendously excited about building in programs that promote for example and not limited to – mindfulness, hope, optimism, resilience, grit and a growth mindset in all our community. For without these things listed above, it is very difficult to grow and flourish.

Details on how we are going to do it will be published throughout the year. Our school leaders will be writing in our newsletter in the coming editions recalling from their perspective, how they approach different situations at school and in their life.