18 SES 02 A, Curriculum and Pedagogy in Health and Physical Education
In April 2018, the Department of Education and Skills (DES) in Ireland announced plans to build 42 new primary and secondary schools to be established between 2019 and 2022. Research in Ireland, however, would suggest that there is very little guidance for school leaders on the development of an ethos, culture and climate in a new school. The DES Small Schools Symposium in June 2019 reinforced these observation by identifying two major problems for newly appointed school leaders: 1) duplication of effort whereby each principal had to begin the foundations of a school without guidance; 2) lack of support, training and resources and specific professional development.
The current research study attempts to focus on the more established empirical evidence on the holistic development of a young learner. Irish recent research in education points to the creation of an active learning environment, focusing on the holistic development of the ‘whole child’, who is challenged academically at an appropriate level but also ‘will leave school with a balanced set of cognitive, social and emotional skills to face the challenges of the 21st century (OECD 2017)’.
Accordingly, underpinned by the Bronfenbrenner’s ecological model of human development (1976), and Seligmann’s theory of wellbeing (2011), there are two main objectives to this study.
1) To reconceptualise wellbeing in the Irish Primary school system to take into account the multi-faceted nature of wellbeing, and in particular the five domains of student wellbeing identified by Borgonovi and Pál (2016). These five domains include psychological, cognitive, material, social and physical functioning, and capabilities that students need to live a happy and fulfilling life.
2) To develop an ecologically based conceptual framework to endorse the wellbeing needs of children, teachers, school leaders and parents in primary education. This culturally and contextually relevant framework is intended to act as a roadmap for school leaders by using wellbeing as a core driver for teaching and learning.
The emerging research questions for this current study are as follows:
- How do educational teachers, students, school leaders and parents value whole-school approaches to wellbeing at primary school level?
- What are the perceptions of students, teachers, parents and school leaders regarding the wellbeing element of school life?
- How does the Irish primary school curriculum facilitate wellbeing?
- How can this research informed study assist a primary school leader in implementing a conceptual model for wellbeing?
This research will employ a sequential exploratory mixed methods design, proposed by Creswell and Plano Clark (2007). Purposive sampling will be used in selecting the respondents for participation in the baseline data collection. Three primary schools will be selected for this baseline data collection, alongside the recruitment of key school stakeholders (school principal, teacher, parents, children etc). Participants will engage in focus groups and/or semi-structured interviews to seek their viewpoints on wellbeing implementation in primary schools. The intended sample size for this first phase of research comprises of 30 students, 2 parents, 2 teachers and 1 school Principal across each of the 3 schools. In addition to the proposed focus group and/or semi-structured interviews, the quantitative self-report online survey will further gather participants viewpoints on wellbeing implementation in primary schools.
Phillips and Sen (2011) reported that in the UK, “work related stress was higher in education than across all other industries with work-related mental ill-health almost double the rate for all industry” (p. 177-8). In Ireland, a 2018 National Principals Forum (NPF) survey (n=1166) has shown that 98.9% of respondents stated workload is a medium or unsustainable challenge. Research evidence suggests that pupils of teachers with high job satisfaction and lower stress are more likely to perform better than their peers whose teachers are not able to sustain their commitment (Day, Sammons, Stobart, Kington, & Gu, 2007). This proposed research is intended to provide a much-needed framework to cater for the wellbeing needs of school staff and students. Currently, to the authors knowledge, no literature exists in Ireland that fuses holistic wellbeing as an operating framework for the Irish primary school context. Nohilly and Tynan (2019) suggest that much of the literature in the area of wellbeing highlights that it is a term that is open to interpretation and indeed to definition. This reinforces the need for an operating framework that clearly defines wellbeing within a whole school setting, and this piece of research seeks to progress the field in such a capacity.
Billehoj, H. (2007). Report on the European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE) Survey on Teachers’ Work-related Stress. Brussels: ETUCE. Borgonovi, F. and J. Pál (2016), “A framework for the analysis of student well-being in the PISA 2015 study: Being 15 in 2015”,  OECD Education Working Papers, No. 140, OECD Publishing, Paris, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/5jlpszwghvvb-en. Bronfenbrenner, U. (1976) ‘The experimental ecology of education’, Teach. Coll. Rec. 78(2), pp.157-204. Bronfenbrenner, U. (1977) ‘Toward an experimental ecology of human development’, Am. Psychol. 32, pp.515-31. Bronfenbrenner, U. 1986) ‘Ecology of the family as a context for human development: research perspectives’, Dev Psychol. 22(6), pp.723-42. Bronfenbrenner, U. (1989) ‘Ecological systems theory’. In: Vasta, R., ed., Annals of Child Development: Vol. 6 Six Theories of Child Development: Revised Formulations and Current Issues Greenwich, CT: JAI Press. pp. 187- 249. Creswell, J. (2009) Research design: qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches (3rd edition), London: Sage Creswell, J., & Plano Clark, V. (2007). Designing and Conducting Mixed Methods Research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Department of Education and Skills, Department of Children and Youth Affairs & Department of Health Ireland, Health Services Executive. (2015). Well-Being in Primary Schools; Guidelines for Mental Health Promotion. Department of Education and Skills & Inspectorate, Wellbeing Policy Statement and Framework for Action (2018). Dublin. Freire, P., (1972) Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Great Britain: Penguin. Hargreaves, A. & Fink, D. (2006) Sustainable Leadership (San Francisco, CA, Jossey Bass). Hargreaves, A. Shirley, D. Wangia, S. Bacon, C. & D’angelo, M. (2018). Leading from the Middle: Spreading Learning, Well-being and Identity across Ontario, Council of Ontario Directors of Education Report. CODE Consortium. Nohilly, M. and Tynan, F, (2019) Challenges in implementing wellbeing in Irish primary schools. Irish Teachers Journal, Vol. 7, No. 1, November 2019 OECD. (2017). PISA 2015 Results (Volume III): Students’ Well-Being. Paris: OECD Publishing. Phillips, S., & Sen, D. (2011). Stress in head teachers. In J. Langan-Fox & C. L. Cooper (Eds.), Handbook of stress in the occupations (pp. 177-201). Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing. Principalsforum.org. (2019). National Principals Forum. [online] Available at: https://www.principalsforum.org [Accessed 25 Nov. 2019]. Seligman, M. E. (2011). Flourish: A visionary new understanding of happiness and well-being. Simon and Schuster.
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
Network 2. Vocational Education and Training (VETNET)
Network 3. Curriculum Innovation
Network 4. Inclusive Education
Network 5. Children and Youth at Risk and Urban Education
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