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The Next Best Thing

What is the single best thing we can do in schools to support student wellbeing?

Answers to this question have certainly changed over the years. Back in the 1970s, western schools around the world attempted to increase student self-esteem with praise and positive reinforcement.

By the time the 1990s had arrived, we turned our attentions to helping young people build resiliency and deal more effectively with failure. Now in 2016, schools everywhere are embracing ideas about ‘positive education’ with a focus on developing character and mindfulness.

The wellbeing times are certainly changing, but why? Is this constant transition from one focus to another, a sign of a changing culture and the changing issues that young people face? Or is the repeated changing of our approach to improving wellbeing, a signal that we are repeatedly getting the answers wrong?


Originally from the UK, Dr Helen Street has worked extensively in Australian schools since 1999. Her work exploring wellbeing, engagement and motivation in young people has been presented internationally in academic journals and in the popular media. Helen’s ideas have been met with international acclaim and have been endorsed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and 'brown eyes blue eyes' creator Jane Elliott, among many others.

Helen has a background in applied social psychology and youth mental health. She is an adjunct research consultant for the health department of WA's Centre for Clinical Interventions and an Honorary Research Fellow with the School of Graduate Education at The University of Western Australia. Helen is the author of several books and book chapters. Most recently, she co-edited with Neil Porter the Positive Schools first book, ‘Better Than OK’. Helen also writes regularly for Educational publications including Western Teacher magazine and The Positive Times (

Helen is one of the original creators of The Positive Schools conferences. The incredible success of the events is a satisfying reflection of her passion to bring positive education to all Australian schools.

Dr Helen Street will be the keynote speaker at the Nurture Works Conference on 22nd August at the Tradewinds Hotel.

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