Guiding Principals


Positive Education is an approach to education that blends academic learning with character and wellbeing.  Preparing students with life skills such as: grit, optimism, resilience, growth mindset, engagement and mindfulness amongst others.  It is based on the science of wellbeing and happiness.

There are many ways of teaching positive education to teachers, students, parents and the wider school community and many programmes available.  Here we’ve explained a few of the positive learning opportunities that Where there’s a Will has introduced to the Upper Hunter.

Visible Wellbeing

Visible Wellbeing™ (VWB) combines wellbeing with learning and teaching to enable schools to build wellbeing in students, staff, parents and their community.

Designed by Dr Lea Waters (PhD), research professor and world expert in positive psychology.   The VWB techniques help teachers to use the learning process itself to build student wellbeing.   It is a flexible approach, which can be applied across any subject matter, and in all contexts – early learning, primary, secondary, and in the staff room.  Academic learning and wellbeing are truly integrated.

Funded by Where there’s a Will in partnership with Glencore Community Fund and a group of Philanthropists working with Schools Plusmore than 460 teachers from 22 schools throughout the Upper Hunter have commenced their training in Visible Wellbeing practices that can be integrated into every lesson and every project from pre-school through to Year 12.  Formal training will be completed at the end of 2019.

Professor Lea Waters, Australia’s first Professor of Positive Psychology from Melbourne University will oversee the rollout of the programme.  Professor Waters is forecasting significant improvement to the mental health of residents in the Upper Hunter.

“If you’re going to create change, schools are a linchpin because they have access to so many people,” Professor Waters said.

“They create a tipping point and a culture of change across a community because students take lessons to their homes, their families and into all of their relationships.

“This is so exciting for those of us working in the field of positive psychology – what we’re seeing in the Upper Hunter is a national first, we’ve never worked with 22 schools in one community before.

“You’ve got state, catholic and independent schools and all of a sudden any division just fades away and you’re left with a united group of people working together to improve mental health and wellbeing

“As a result you’re going to see young people equipped to manage their own mental health and able to identify if things are not going well for their friends.  They’ll also have the confidence to say ‘I think you need some help’.  Talking about mental health will be normalised.”


BounceBack! is a positive education approach to wellbeing, resilience and social-emotional learning for primary school children.  The programme has been introduced to six primary schools in the Upper Hunter by the Australian Catholic University as a research project called Prosper.  The six schools participating in this three year programme include: Aberdeen Public School, Belltrees Public School, Scone Public School, St James Primary School Muswellbrook, St Josephs Primary School Merriwa and St Mary’s Primary School Scone.

BounceBack! was written by Toni Noble and Helen McGrath.  We are lucky enough to have Professor Toni Noble working with Dr Rose Pennington to deliver the program in the Upper Hunter.

Download Executive Summary Report (pdf)

Dr Toni Noble, author of BounceBack! & Rose Pennington, programme coordinator