A School With Wellbeing at Its Heart

My experience in teaching and learning have enabled me to develop an informed perspective on what really matters in the education of current and future generations.

The Launceston Church Grammar School purpose statement reflects contemporary expectations of a private school education. At Launceston Grammar, we exist to nurture, challenge and inspire young people to lead fulfilling lives and positively contribute to their communities.

This is a far cry from my early career experience in northwest NSW. I was in a classroom to teach students what to think and write about if they were to be regarded as successful learners. Thankfully, that approach to learning has changed. Teachers are no longer the “sage on the stage”, no longer armed with textbooks as the sole holders of knowledge required for successful examination results. The evolution of digital technologies has forced a change from a teacher centric model to a student centric model as a framework for education. The table (right) illustrates the change I have witnessed and how educators think about learning and the nature of learning we witness in our classrooms today.

This shift in ‘how we do school’ impacts not just what is expected of teachers and learners but also the nature of what is being taught. It also informs how we think about the future of learning at Grammar.   

Earlier this year, the Senior Leadership Team and Board embarked on a journey to evolve the next iteration of Grammar’s Strategic Plan 2023 – 2028. We are still consulting and developing the proposed areas, where we will focus on the next five years, using the current Strategic Plan Directives framework to shape the plan. In our Term 1, 2024 edition of News from Launceston Grammar we will be formally launching the plan.   

Grammar has always placed a high value on wellbeing through strong relationships between students and staff, school, and home. Like any community, sometimes these connections have been tested. It is timely that we forge a pathway, where we can draw on the strengths and experiences of the past and create a powerful iteration of being a strong community.

As we evolve our Strategic Plan, it makes sense to place wellbeing at the heart of all we do. Using this idea, our working title for the plan is “Wellbeing of our People and their School”.

To further prompt our thinking, Senior Leadership asked ourselves the question: “What would our school look like if we were to explicitly place a lens of wellbeing over all that we do?” We have commenced work on strengthening our understanding of what this question looks like, in application.   

Old Paradigm Education 1.0 20C New Paradigm Education 4.0 21C
Teaching is done. What is learnt is decided by the teacher for the student. Knowledge is co-created, collaborative and curiosity drives learning.
Passive learners and limited engagement. Active learners with high engagement and student agency.
One-size-fits-all knowledge curriculum. Personalised and individual learning plans becoming the norm.
The focus is on academic outcomes. Emphasis on holistic growth of individuals as educational outcomes.
Textbooks at the core. Multiple tech devices and diverse apps used.
Assessment tools measure what is retained with specific skills signed off. Assessment is for further learning, so that diverse skillsets developed.
Teacher learning certified and credentialed. Continuous learning and development.
Traditional classrooms as the place of learning.  Learning happens anywhere/ anytime and classrooms are dynamic workspaces,
Limited pathways into future learning opportunities and workforce readiness dictated by IQ. Multiple pathways into known and unknown further learner opportunities or workplaces.
Students prepared for known career pathways. Learners prepared for multiple careers and unknown futures1.


Wellbeing as a whole of school approach

Over the course of this year, we have been working on three areas of wellbeing:    

Student wellbeing using the pillars of Academic, Spiritual, Psychological, Social Emotional and Physical to enable students to develop an understanding and application of behaviours and habits which contribute positively to their personal growth. Our staff will develop the capacity and skills to create learning experiences which enable our learners to flourish.

Staff Wellbeing where our “People Promise” to staff delivers a safe workplace. This includes:

o Clear policies and processes regarding psychosocial safety;

o Workplace discrimination, harassment and bullying;

o The provision of appropriate facilities and environments;

o Responsive and proactive understanding of employee professional needs with a commitment to their development;

o Responsible service of workload; and,

o An inclusive culture where people are valued and feel connected to our purpose, and each other.

Organisational wellbeing to ensure that our school business model applies the lens of wellbeing to practice and decision making. This includes data driven actions such as commissioning significant work to better understand the current population trends for Tasmania, through a thorough analysis of our budget and how it is working to support transformational growth. We will also question what it is to be a deeply felt community and how we may thrive together to support our learners now and into the future. Our commitment to Alumni and the important role they play will also be recognised in our planning.

Educational Excellence: The case for student wellbeing 

We know that our students arrive at school each day with a diverse range of experiences. They reflect the power of enduring love, they place value on the importance of a ‘whole of life’ education, lead healthy lifestyles, and know what it is to be content. However, many may also have experienced trauma and disruption in their lives which we know impacts our ability to thrive as individuals. Equipping our young people with the skills to leverage the joy in their lives and make sense of the challenges, is a joint responsibility of both home and school. I often reflect on the thought, that given the brief expanse of a lifetime, how may we create active learning which enables us to optimise our life experience? I am a firm believer that school should be a place where we create opportunities for the betterment of ourselves and others.

Improved outcomes in all aspects of student wellbeing are positively associated with improved outcomes in all other aspects of schooling. Positive psychological characteristics have been linked to a range of outcomes including academic achievement, fewer risky behaviours, and better physical health in adulthood (Durlak et al. 2011). A recent Edstart survey found that student wellbeing tops the list of reasons why Australian Private School parents would choose to enrol their child, or leave a school. When asked what they want their school to provide more support on, these included more attention to individual students (24%) wellbeing programmes (23%), and career and pathways support (20%). I am pleased to you that we are resourcing and developing each of these areas at Grammar2.

Strong leadership as we plan for future success

We have started placing an increased emphasis on explicit teaching programmes and pastoral structures that focus on supporting and developing student education. This year our Senior Campus students have been participating in The Resilience Project and our Junior Campus students have been working with the Smiling Minds programme. Both of these and future programmes link directly to the requirements of the Australian Curriculum: Personal and Social Capability.

Staff have conducted a comprehensive audit of our current educational offering and have suggested potential opportunities for our wellbeing programme development moving forward. They have also been undertaking training opportunities linked to Child Protection, Australian Disability Standards, Trauma Informed Response, and Coaching.

As part of our programme planning and budget cycle for 2024, we have made provision for additional resources to be available to ensure we meet our goal to be Tasmania’s leading wellbeing school. Key to the achievement of our goal is our ability to create capacity for our pastoral staff to implement changes which will have positive measurable, educational outcomes, for all our students.

I am delighted to announce that on each campus there will be a leader of Student Wellbeing with significant allocation of time and resources to do their job well. On the Junior Campus, our Assistant Head, Lisa Watson, will be responsible for the portfolio and will work closely with a team of three staff who are responsible for the development of wellbeing programmes across the educational offering. In 2020, a study by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) for the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) found that students in the IB Primary Years Programme (IB PYP) demonstrated consistently higher levels of wellbeing than those educated outside the programme.

On the Senior Campus we welcome back to Grammar, Monique Austen as our Director of Student Wellbeing. Monique will lead our Heads of House team and work with our Chaplain, Head of Boarding, School Counsellors, Head of Learning Enrichment, Head of Grade 7, Head of Digital Technologies and School Nurse to ensure we have comprehensive leadership, embedding programmes into campus life to grow our students.

In a Tasmanian first, we have allocated significant time for our Heads of House on the Senior Campus, so they can become the ‘hub of the wheel’ in the lives of our students and families. Our Heads of House will also be teaching students in their House for Grades 8, 9 and 10. The content of these lessons will be informed by the broader programmes of the school including HPE, Outdoor Education and Grade 10 Retreat.

There are other actions being put in place across the school and throughout the remainder of this year we will be preparing to finalise their implementation.

It is an exciting time for Launceston Church Grammar School. This significant commitment to wellbeing will help us drive towards the realisation of our greater purpose.


Written By Dale Bennett – A School with Wellbeing at Its Heart


1. OECD Learning Compass 2030 https://www.oecd.org/education/2030-project/teaching-and-learning/learning/learning-compass-2030 https://www.dreamformula.education/edu4

2. https://www.theeducatoronline.com/k12/news/for-parents-school-choice-comes-down-to-student-wellbeing–study/283018