Flourishing research

Our Institute of Teaching and Learning have been working with Research Schools International for a year, researching the subject of Human Flourishing as it is defined at Harvard’s Institute for quantitative social science. Their flourishing measure is based on five central domains: happiness and life satisfaction, mental and physical health,meaning and purpose, character and virtue, and close social relationships. A questionnaire was sent out to all students, and researchers at RSI analysed the data, along with various teachers and, notably, a group of students.

Results were presented at the start of term staff development day with strong areas for Sevenoaks including exercise, humour, volunteering, and acts of kindness (research-based activities known to enhance flourishing). In a follow up session, members of staff were invited to develop an intervention that would address one of the areas identified for improvement:

  • Connecting with nature:  Provide opportunities for students to connect with nature in class, co-curricular, or informally throughout the day.
  • Teaching kindness: Teaching kindness explicitly in class.
  • Practicing mindfulness: Offer opportunities for students to practice mindfulness beyond those offered in the boarding houses.
  • Fostering meaning and wonder: Bringing a greater sense of meaning and wonder into schoolwork in the later years of school.
  • Promoting gratitude: Creating gratitude activities for students to participate in class, co-curricular, or informally throughout the day.
  • Dealing with academic pressure: Supporting students with increasing academic pressure as they progress through school, particularly focusing on supporting girls and learning support students.
  • Offering social support: Offering more opportunities for teachers to provide social support.

A smaller group of staff will continue in year two of the project to evaluate the impact of their interventions through an action research project facilitated by RSI.

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