Positive Education

positive-educationAt Sandridge, we draw on the science of positive psychology as a framework for articulating the essence of best teaching.

Increasingly seen as a powerful resource in education, this framework is often seen in stark contrast to the formulations of some politicians and bureaucrats, derived from mathematical analysis of student and school performance in standardised testing.

 The Role of Positive Psychology in teaching and learning at Sandridge School.

Positive Psychology Education involves the explicit teaching of essential skills needed to thrive in the professional, social and personal future:

  • Resilience, grit, flexibility, creativity, courage, perseverance, engagement, meaning, relationships, achievement.

An evolving understanding of the 21st Century space has seen the development of significant shifts in the conversation around how students learn and how education can best be delivered.

  • Leading theorists, Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Dr. Carol Dweck have explored the human elements of what it is to learn and have shown that tapping into these elements considerably enhances the learning capacity of students and, Sandridge School also argues, teachers.
  • Their theories enable teachers to become conscious actors in the education space by understanding that if we can generate learning environments that foster intrinsic over extrinsic motivation, that allow students to get lost in ‘flow’, that foster a growth mindset rather than a fixed one; then they will develop into ‘intellectual learners’ and not just short-term ‘academic learners’.
  • They will be equipped to go out into that dynamic world that is the 21st Century.
  • Csikszentmihalyi’s concept of ‘Flow’ is about getting lost in what you are doing, and in an educational context, this translates to getting lost in learning for the pleasure it brings rather than for the grade it will earn or to satisfy a teacher requirement.
  • Dweck argues that a ‘growth mindset’ shifts the learner into the space of seeing all as opportunity and failure as just another part of learning.

Dr. Andrew Martin and Dr. Robert Marzano add to this body of knowledge with their theories on the important role that motivation plays in driving effective learning.

  • Martin examines motivation as a students’ energy and drive to learn, work effectively, and achieve to their potential at school.
    • Motivation plays a large part in students’ interest in and enjoyment of school and study and underpins their achievement.
  • Marzano’s research on motivation and engagement identifies four key elements to optimise student engagement that are essential for creating effective learning environments
    • emotions are about building relationships
    • interest can be generated via play
    • importance stems from relevance
    • efficacy is about opportunities to practice learned skills.
  • When the teacher develops a genuine relationship with each student, they consider the teacher as a trusted partner in their own learning and view themselves not only as capable of achieving a goal, but also that they matter.

At Sandridge School, the underlying principle of education is that the driver of learning is optimistic curiosity that comes from within, rather than through external motivators that have limited and superficial outcomes.


Sandridge School has been invited to be a founding member of a new global organization, the International Positive Education Network (IPEN). The primary goal of this organisation is to bring positive psychology into all aspects of the education process. Evidence has shown that developing pupils’ character strengths and well-being is as important as academic achievement to their future success and happiness.

IPEN explains that “positive education represents a paradigm shift: away from viewing education merely as a route to academic attainment, towards viewing it as a place where students can cultivate their intellectual minds while developing a broad set of character strengths and virtues and wellbeing. This in a nutshell is the ‘character + academics’ approach to education.”

IPEN aims to unite teachers, parents, academics, students, schools, colleges, universities, charities, companies and governments to promote positive education, through collaboration, practice and policy reform.

You can learn more about IPEN at  http://www.ipositive-education.net