Case Study: Positive psychology at Knox Grammar School

Feb 19
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“A school curriculum that incorporates wellbeing will ideally prevent depression, increase life satisfaction, encourage social responsibility, promote creativity, foster learning and even enhance academic achievement”  (Waters, 2014)

In a socially disruptive and distressed world, how does a school improve student wellbeing? Through improving staff wellbeing.

Positive psychology in education is a proactive approach to increasing students and staff mental fitness and wellbeing.  A positive psychology approach to development ensures that staff promote wellbeing through expert training from qualified psychologists and by ensuring that students have access to academic, psychosocial and emotional wellbeing support.

In 2009, the Knox Grammar School Headmaster John Weeks selected Positive Psychology as an evidence-based framework to underpin all aspects of school life.

The 3-year program at Knox included the development of explicit and implicit integrated components (including curriculum) aimed at teaching staff, students and key stakeholders specific strengths-based, solution-focused knowledge and skills to apply in their school work and life.

It provided a proactive, multi-level approach to create a positive school climate to support academic performance, mental fitness and the well-being of staff and students. This whole school strategy combines the science of Psychology, Positive Psychology, Positive Organisational Scholarship and Appreciative Inquiry.

The Knox Team then created its own Positive Education Model known as the Knox Total Fitness Model and rolled this out to the school in 2014.


  • Social Fitness: Nurturing each student’s ability to develop strong relationships and
    develop attitudes to enhance their emotional wellbeing.
  • Academic Fitness: Supporting each student’s readiness and preparedness to be a
    passionate and effective learner.
  • Spiritual Fitness: Providing each boy with opportunities to have a meaning and
    purpose in life, and an internal value system that informs how he lives and the
    decisions that he makes.
  • Physical Fitness: Enabling each boy to perform to his potential, allowing him to
    look, feel and do his best.

To address the importance of positive psychology in the school environment, Scott James from Knox Grammar will be joining us at the 2019 Executive Leadership & Governance in School Education Conference. Scott will be presenting a session about his success’ in incorporating positive psychology within his school.  Attend the conference to hear more from renowned school leaders from across Australia.

Submitted by Chanelle Rozario

Chanelle Rozario

Chanelle is a conference producer at Criterion Conferences.

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