Traditional, independent school values indicate that the best education is an education of the head, heart and soul. That is, the best education focuses on the whole person. This could be described as a strong academic education, supportive pastoral care building a strong sense of wellbeing and a rich, rewarding and cocurricular program, all operating within a positive and clear set of commonly held values.
We take this rounded approach to a child’s education at The Knox School. To date we have done so based on tradition and insight: if a school focuses on student wellbeing, a good education will follow.
It is not surprising that someone who can set goals, visualise paths to achieve them, and summon the motivation to start down those paths is more likely to succeed than someone who can’t do those things. Measuring the effect of these characteristics, which compose the definition of “hope” is starting to become clearer. There is a growing body of evidence to show that wellbeing, not only supports a good education but high levels of wellbeing produce better results.
Almost 11,000 students participated in Gallup’s Australian Student Poll this year, which focused on measuring students’ hope for the future, engagement in studies, wellbeing and entrepreneurship – rather than more traditional metrics of literacy and numeracy.
The poll of students from Year 5 to Year 12 drawn from across the country found that 63 per cent were “thriving” in terms of their wellbeing.
This is significant, says Anne Lingafelter, Gallup’s Learning Solutions Consultant for Australia and New Zealand, because levels of hope are linked with graduation rates and future success.
“Levels of hope can be more indicative of university graduation than standardised testing,” she said. “We all know kids who are super smart and test well but because their hope levels are low, their wellbeing and engagement off, they are not resilient and do not succeed.”
The research behind these comments is based in part on a small but growing body of scholarship that shows students’ levels of hope are better predictors of academic success than intelligence, personality or even previous exam results.
Like the Gallup study, The Knox School collects data on levels of hope through our surveys conducted by Resilient Youth Australia (reported on in The Falcon earlier this year)
Students at The Knox School reported levels of hope way beyond those in the national study. Our data shows:
• Years 5 & 6 88% of students report moderate to high levels of hope
• Year 7 100% of students report moderate to high levels of hope
• Year 8 94% of students report moderate to high levels of hope
• Year 9 96% of students report moderate to high levels of hope
• Year 10 100% of students report moderate to high levels of hope
• Year 11 95% of students report moderate to high levels of hope
• Year 12 90% of students report moderate to high levels of hope
Careful use of data is a key part of our future development as a school.
Given the media preoccupation with ‘headline’ results such as NAPLAN and VCE data, it is refreshing to see the traditional independent school values of a well-rounded education being shown to be indicative of long term success through research and use of other data sets.