Hearts and Minds – A new wellbeing framework

Article by Michelle McKersey - Deputy Head of Secondary, Students
Moreton Bay College / 07 October 2019

In June 2018, Moreton Bay College launched a new evidence-based wellbeing framework called Hearts and Minds. Although the feedback from stakeholders had always been that pastoral care at MBC was of a high standard, pastoral staff were eager to have an evidence-based framework which aligned with the College’s context and values. The rationale for this new initiative was about student wellbeing and the role it plays in setting students up to feel good and function well and, in turn, learn well. Additionally, having a framework that is evidence-based ensures that our pastoral programs and activities are grounded in research and has provided a structure and reference point for our approach to wellbeing.

“When educating the minds of our youth, we must not forget to educate their hearts.”

These words from Aristotle reflect Moreton Bay College’s holistic approach to educating the young women in our care. Our belief is that the pastoral and academic domains of a school are inextricably linked: a high quality, evidence-informed approach to pastoral care that permeates a school’s culture enhances its approach to academics and ultimately improves student outcomes. At Moreton Bay College (MBC) we value academic mastery, and each student achieving her personal best academically, but for that to happen we know that wellbeing is essential.

Just over a year ago, Moreton Bay College launched a new wellbeing framework called Hearts and Minds. Since then it has been wonderful to witness our community embrace the framework and develop a shared language and understanding of how to optimise wellbeing.

Based on research conducted by the UK’s New Economics Foundation, the Hearts and Minds framework consists of 5 actions: Connect, Be Active, Keep Learning, Take Notice and Give. The research shows that when these 5 actions are embedded into everyday life, wellbeing improves (Five Ways to Wellbeing).

Prior to the introduction of Hearts and Minds, pastoral staff had been exploring wellbeing frameworks for several years. Although the feedback from stakeholders had always been that pastoral care at MBC was of a high standard, their aim was to identify a framework which was evidence-based and aligned with the College’s context and values. Grounded in research into actions that lead to people feeling good and functioning well, the New Economics Foundation’s 5 Ways to Wellbeing satisfied these criteria.

After identifying a suitable framework, an auditing process began which involved the mapping of the 5 actions against existing pastoral programs in the primary and secondary sectors of the College. Programs such as the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program (PYP), Positive Minds (our MBC secondary wellbeing curriculum), Health and Physical Education, Religious Education, service learning, student leadership, year level camps and House activities were evaluated in terms of the 5 actions. Additionally, Year 6 to 12 students completed surveys which asked a series of questions using the language of the Five Ways to Wellbeing and were also given the opportunity to provide qualitative data. Although the results of this auditing process indicated that there was under-representation of actions in some areas, they also showed that the 5 actions were already embedded to a significant extent in the College’s approach to pastoral care and student wellbeing. Consequently, The Five Ways to Wellbeing became the basis of MBC’s new wellbeing framework and was rebadged as Hearts and Minds, which was a derivation of the College marketing tagline Breadth of Mind, Depth of Heart.

Multiple forums were used for the launch of Hearts and Minds to ensure that all members of the College community were informed of this new initiative. A whole College staff meeting was used to inform teachers and support staff, and students learned about Hearts and Minds at an Assembly presentation delivered by the College Captains. Secondary students were also given the opportunity to reflect on their own practise of the 5 actions by completing a self-audit in their Positive Minds Program (PMP) lessons. Parents were notified of Hearts and Minds via a letter and newsletter article explaining the rationale for the framework and the research behind the 5 actions, and they were also invited to a parent forum.

Alongside the launch of Hearts and Minds, a staff wellbeing committee was formed and over the past year members have organised various activities for staff to engage with the 5 actions. There have been Connect activities at staff meetings and book club has been a way for staff to Keep Learning. The chance to Take Notice has been offered through mindfulness and yoga sessions, and a walking group and team entry in a local Park Run has allowed staff to Be Active. The action of Give has been practised when staff have worked together to support various charities such as Share the Dignity.

The implementation of Hearts and Minds has not required wholesale changes to the College’s pastoral programs as it overlaid existing practises. Because the framework is evidence-based however, it has provided a structure and reference point for our approach to wellbeing. In applying Hearts and Minds staff have sought to create relevant and engaging opportunities for students to explore and practice the 5 actions through our pastoral programs. In Chapel services, Hearts and Minds has been woven into spiritual life by linking the framework to prayer and scriptures. At our recent Founders’ Day Service, celebrating Christian Faith and Service, the College Captains presented the Head of College with a new College prayer which they wrote, based on the 5 actions of Hearts and Minds. New initiatives have also been developed, including the Year 10 Kindness Committee and FIT A.M., and plans are underway for a Hearts and Minds Action Group.

Hearts and Minds appears to have been positively received by all stakeholders, with students and staff enthusiastically adopting the language of the 5 actions and in turn, developing a wellbeing literacy. However, we are keen to avoid complacency and are committed to ensuring Hearts and Minds remains sustainable and effective. Accurately measuring wellbeing in our school is therefore a priority, as it will determine the impact of the framework and help us pinpoint specific needs as we continue to develop our approach to community wellbeing.

To accurately measure wellbeing in a school, it is essential to have a measurement instrument that aligns with that school’s context and its approach to wellbeing. It is for this very reason that we sought expertise in the area of wellbeing measurement in schools, forming a research partnership with Associate Professor Mathew White and Professor Faye McCallum from the University of Adelaide.

International experts in student and staff wellbeing education and measurement, Associate Professor White and Professor McCallum are leading a measurement project at MBC, which has been approved by the Human Research Ethics Committee at the University of Adelaide. In this research project Year 6 to 12 students will be invited to participate in a wellbeing survey designed by Associate Professor White and Professor McCallum. Additionally, employee wellbeing will also be measured in a separate survey. Following analysis of the data from the student and employee wellbeing surveys, a descriptive report on the wellbeing of the College will be prepared and this will inform next steps in terms of the wellbeing of our community. To have access to such expertise and the opportunity to rigorously measure wellbeing in this way holds us in good stead to ensure Hearts and Minds remains effective and sustainable.

We are delighted at how students, staff and parents have embraced Hearts and Minds in its first year. The framework has momentum in our community and has set us on an exciting pathway to being genuinely proactive about student wellbeing. We are building a shared language and skillset around the 5 evidence-based actions shown to improve wellbeing – Connect, Give, Keep Learning, Take Notice and Be Active. We wholeheartedly believe in this approach as we strive to educate the hearts and minds of the young women of Moreton Bay College.


Five Ways to Wellbeing. [online]. Available from https://neweconomics.org/2008/10/five-ways-to-wellbeing-the-evidence. [Accessed 6 August 2019].