In September 2006,
we made the decision to launch a course in happiness and well-being for our 4th
and 5th Form students. This decision sparked enormous - and
unexpected - interest nationally and internationally, which several years on
has yet to die away.
At face value,
deciding to teach happiness and well-being seems bold, but in many senses, it
is an obvious and some might argue fundamental requirement in a school’s
educational provision. Our course has a very simple aim: to promote the flourishing
and excellence of the young people at Wellington. Instead of focusing on
disaster prevention, we educate about how our students might capitalise upon
their human resources and make the best of their potential.
defined by the Government Office for Science Foresight Report as ‘a dynamic
state, in which the individual is able to develop their potential, work
productively and creatively, build strong and positive relationships with
others, and contribute to their community. It is enhanced when
an individual is able to fulfil their
personal and social goals and achieve a sense of purpose in their society.’
There is a growing body of
scientific evidence on the causal factors around happiness and well-being,
which can then be applied in work with individuals and institutions. Having a
better understanding of how to increase the likelihood of happiness with life,
and how to channel the emotional pains of set-backs en route, are the sort of
skills that can substantially improve an individual's progress.
Previous research has shown, for example, that becoming involved in challenging
and absorbing activities is important to people's ability to cope better with
life. As a successful independent boarding and day school which focuses on an 'all-round'
education, Wellington already offers its pupils a wide range of such
Our course is based
on 6 elements which serve to promote well-being:
- Physical health
- Positive relationships
- Perspective (developing a psychological
- The world (living sustainably)
- Meaning and purpose
All students in the
first 4 years of the school receive the equivalent of 1 hour per fortnight of
well-being lessons. Each lesson presents a skill that students can employ to
enhance their well-being from advice on getting to sleep to more complex
cognitive methods for dealing with adversity. Everything that we teach is based
on reliable research conducted by some of the most eminent academics in the
field. The L6th also enjoys a series of lectures given by inspiring speakers
designed to help our students reflect on the potential for making the most of
their lives. There is more information about the content of the course
available on our intranet Well-being pages.
We hold conferences on
'Teaching Happiness and Well-Being in Schools' as you will see from our conference programme. We have also started running
well-being taster classes for parents to enable them to experience at first
hand some of the well-being lessons that Wellington students enjoy.
information on the ideas underpinning the teaching of happiness and well-being,
see ‘Learning to Ride Elephants’ by Ian Morris, published by Continuum Books.