An Effective Model of Support for Student Well-Being in the Primary School: Stakeholder Perspectives of Essential Characteristics

By Iona McFarland and Janet Lynne Currie.

Published by The International Journal of Health, Wellness and Society

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An effective support model for student well-being is essential in primary schools to assist students in the area of Social and Emotional Well-Being (SEW). This is especially important in view of the fact that one in five Australian children will experience a mental health issue. However, access to such universal support across the whole school community can preventatively build resilience and connectedness for all students. Past research has focused on gauging student perspectives of those characteristics they feel help best support their SEW. Therefore, we aimed to examine and include perspectives of a broader range of stakeholders including the school principal, school counsellor, teachers, and parents. Our research approach focused on “participant voice.” Participant voice is when the participants are invited to speak and be heard about their values, experiences, beliefs and opinions, creating a rich and authentic set of data. Through incorporating multiple participant voices, our study explored the research question: “Which characteristics reflect an effective model of support for student well-being in primary schools?” Conducting a qualitative case study of model of SEW in a single-school setting (Independent K–12, Sydney, New South Wales), triangulation of methods was used to obtain data including online surveys, focus groups, and individual semi-structured interviews. Using a grounded theory approach, the content analysis revealed four main recurring themes reflecting characteristics of an effective model of SEW, including: (a) Positive Relationships, (b) Proactive Approach, (c) Supportive Leadership Team, and (d) Easily Accessible Services. The insight gained from this study in identifying and gathering these new additional perspectives from a range of key stakeholders has proposed a more holistic model and described a more complete picture of effective support for SEW in the primary school.

Keywords: Well-Being, Model, Perspectives

The International Journal of Health, Wellness and Society, Volume 7, Issue 4, December 2017, pp.71-83. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 786.379KB).

Iona McFarland

Primary Teacher, Denistone East Primary School, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Dr. Janet Lynne Currie

Senior Lecturer and Coordinator, Health and Physical Education, School of Education, University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia