Flourishing at Schools Survey

Chris Ivey / Academic

I’d like to talk this week about the Flourishing at Schools

14 May 2021

From Our Principal Chris Ivey: Flourishing at Schools Survey

I’d like to talk this week about the Flourishing at Schools (FAS) Survey. We begin the process again next week with our Secondary students. (At this stage we are not doing it with our Primary students, however we are open to expanding it to upper Primary). We have talked a lot this year about Personal Capacity and our desire to provide students with appropriate tools enabling them to reflect and grow. 

The term 'flourishing' denotes a high level of wellbeing characterised by positive emotions, engagement (or flow), positive relationships, meaningfulness and accomplishment. A significant point I like to reiterate with the structure of the FAS Survey and accompanying tools is that it aligns perfectly with the language, theory and practice of Marty Seligman’s work on developing character through the PERMA+ model of Positive Psychology. The areas of Positive Emotions, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, Accomplishment and Health are the six pillars that will contribute to a happy and meaningful life. 

Our approach and wellbeing interventions are still underpinned by the PERMA+ model. Equally as important is to inform parents that the Flourishing at Schools tool was refined and validated in an Australian university study (Murdoch University) involving 15 schools and more than 7,500 students. More information about the reliability and validity of the survey can be found in the assessment manual. The online survey enables objective assessment of the success of wellbeing interventions and can also be used to benchmark wellbeing against normative samples.

The survey represents a snapshot of how students are travelling at a point in time and provides opportunities for reflection, recalibration (and conversation). Importantly, Flourishing at School cannot be used to diagnose or treat mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety. Rather it is designed to assist all of us, both staff and parents, to work with students to help them remain mentally healthy and optimise their wellbeing. The important thing to keep in mind is that FAS is not a diagnostic tool – it won’t come out with a surprise ‘result’ for you at the end. Instead, it creates a visual representation (as per below) of wellbeing across a range of areas, at the point in time that a student completes the survey. Our wellbeing constantly fluctuates, and no-one has ‘perfect’ wellbeing. This is why we intend to repeat it each year.

Our students will receive feedback appropriate for their age in their Flourishing at School account soon after completing. This is focused on their top contributors to wellbeing (not ill health). Following completion of surveys your child/ren will be encouraged to set a wellbeing goal to focus on over the upcoming period. This is designed to increase the level of ownership over our students’ own wellbeing. I encourage parents to have conversations with your children about the outcomes of the survey.


Questions I would recommend parents ask their child:

  • Is there anything on the survey wheel that surprised you?
  • Is there something we can do as a whole family to improve an aspect of our wellbeing?
  • What are you enjoying at the moment? Sport, music, friends etc? What is it about this that brings you joy?

What questions should we ask of ourselves as parents:

  • Are we carving out a little bit of time in the week to connect one on one with your children?
  • Am I setting a good example with how I approach my own wellbeing?
  • What are my child’s strengths, and how often do I mention or celebrate these strengths?

About half of all people who develop a mental health condition in their lifetime have their first experience before the age of 14, and 75 per cent before the age of 25. The school years are an ideal time for young people to develop knowledge and skills to recognise or prevent mental illness and to flourish. The Flourishing at Schools survey also gives us really rich data regarding the development of positive mental health pillars as well as top character strengths. For information on the Student Flourishing Survey please visit this page. For more information on the Youth VIA survey please visit this page.

Best wishes,


Author Profile

Chris Ivey

In his own words, Chris “enables things to happen” at St Andrew’s. As Principal of the College, he leads the development and progression of St Andrew’s by enabling staff and students to achieve their personal best. Chris is a Reverend and has been the Principal of St Andrew’s for more that 15 years. He also represents and advocates for Independent schools across Australia as the National Chair of AHISA (Association of Heads of Independent Schools, Australia).

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