On behalf of the PESA Board of Directors, I extend a very warm welcome to you!

The Positive Education Schools Association (PESA) is Australia’s national Positive Education peak body, and was born from a commitment to school-wide wellbeing, through collaboration and learning from each other.  Our Association is blessed to be supported by global leaders in the field – Our Patron, Professor Martin Seligman, is recognised as the founder of Positive Psychology, and our Ambassador, Professor Lea Waters AM, is a past President of the International Positive Psychology Association (IPPA) and was the inaugural Gerry Higgins Chair in Positive Psychology, University of Melbourne.

Our members include teachers, school leaders, students, academics, health professionals, parents and community members. Those who work in schools are at various stages of their Positive Education journey – many are well-advanced, whilst others are taking their first steps. All are eager to learn more, strike new connections, and be inspired and empowered by the transformative impact of Positive Education.

It is an honour to have the opportunity to serve as Chair of PESA. Having had the privilege of being a founding board member of the Association since 2014, it so exciting to continue to work with our outstanding board of directors, CEO and vibrant community of members, to continue to take PESA from strength-to-strength, to support wellbeing and flourishing across whole school communities.

Now, more than ever, young people need our support. Professor Martin Seligman, once famously declared that, “wellbeing is every child’s birthright.” We agree wholeheartedly with this, and yet too many struggle with low levels of wellbeing and indeed mental ill health. The good news is that schools are well-placed to help make a positive contribution to the lives of young people every day – and indeed to staff, parents and the broader school community.

This is particularly so when schools have the benefit of implementing a scientifically validated framework for wellbeing and are equipped with a toolkit of evidence-based principles and strategies that focus on building wellbeing both within and beyond the classroom. In addition when they are able to measure the efficacy of these approaches to ensure, as Professor Hattie would say, that educators can truly “know thy impact”.

We are passionate about helping schools along this rewarding journey of Positive Education. Indeed, PESA’s mission is to empower and support schools in their implementation of Positive Education, the science of wellbeing in schools, to enable the whole community to flourish.

Our steadfast commitment to school-wide wellbeing is seen through the sharing of leading theory and practice through conferences, collaboration and learning from each other, as a dynamic Positive Education community that spans school sectors across Australia and New Zealand and even internationally. We also develop and share useful resources for schools such as our Positive Education Guide.

Further, it is also important to understand that Positive Education not only supports wellbeing but also academic development. Research shows that learning and wellbeing are inextricably linked – good wellbeing supports good learning outcomes and higher levels of achievement; while enriching and empowering learning experiences contribute in turn to our ability to thrive.

Over the past decade, a great many schools and educators across Australia and internationally have embedded Positive Education as a whole-school approach, with the aim of improving both student and staff wellbeing and academic performance.

While the field of Positive Education is relatively new, it is certainly burgeoning. This also serves to highlight how significant the demand is for validated and meaningful approaches to wellbeing in schools as well as how valued the benefits of this approach are.

Positive Education schools also further showcase how effectively schools can become meaningful agents of societal change, especially as they are uniquely well-placed to promote flourishing on a broad scale.

Having collectively navigated the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw a tremendous rallying of our school communities to support the wellbeing of students and in many ways Positive Education was stress-tested with online learning and exams during lockdowns.  Overwhelmingly, many graduates have shared that an explicit Positive Education and wellbeing approach enhanced and buffered them against academic stressors while bolstering their own wellbeing and that of others around them.

I encourage you to join PESA today, to make the most of all that this membership has to offer. As well as enabling you to gain access to high-quality resources, evidence of best practice, latest research and data, you will also have the opportunity to connect with your fellow members and leaders in the field, and share your own knowledge and experiences.

It is a privilege to help lead and contribute to this inclusive, altruistic and forward-thinking community.

We look forward to your involvement.

Anne Johnstone, PESA Chair

September 2023