Every person has a combination of 24 character strengths and if developed correctly can have a significant positive impact on their lives. Research has shown that using your character strengths can help to protect against, manage and overcome problems, improve relationships and enhance health, & wellbeing.

Character strengths can be nurtured and developed through positive psychology, an approach that is at the core of Worth-it initiatives to improve emotional wellbeing and resilience in children and young people.  Positive Psychology is the scientific study of human strengths and flourishing and the applied approach enables individuals, communities and organisations to thrive.

Strengths can be applied in schools in order to improve emotional health, wellbeing, resilience and academic achievement and we can provide the training to do this.

What are Character Strengths?

Character Strengths are the positive parts of your personality that impact how you think, feel and behave and are the keys to you being your best self.

Following extensive character strengths research drawing knowledge from a range of sources including literature, science, philosophy and religion, Peterson and Seligman (2004) identified six universal virtues and twenty-four character strengths considered to be the foundation for developing human flourishing resulting in the introduction of the VIA classification. The VIA has become known as a guide which can robustly identify each strength and virtue.

The virtues identified are wisdom and knowledge, courage, humanity, justice, temperance, and transcendence: the twenty-four character strengths sit within these six virtues. When skilfully applied character strengths can actually have a significant positive impact on your life. Research shows that using your character strengths can help you:

  • Buffer against, manage and overcome problems
  • Improve your relationships
  • Enhance health and overall wellbeing
  • Improve work performance for pupils and adults
  • Develop skills for learning and achievement

Strengths based approaches have been used effectively in school situations and have been evidenced to:

  • Increase life satisfaction and wellbeing (Proctor et. al 2011)
  • Engagement and Hope ( Madden, Green & Grant, 2011)
  • Self-perception of academic ability, expectancy and self-empowerment (Austin 2005)

How can Character Strengths be applied in Schools?

Strengths are an integral part of the SEARCH pathways to wellbeing we use when working with schools to develop positive mental health and wellbeing. We have developed these pathways into our Wellbeing Toolkit Course for teams, which is also available in our DfE Assured Wellbeing Club for Senior Mental Health Leads.

Our approach to working with schools combines training and support is designed and developed to help schools (SLT’s, teachers, support staff and pupils) to learn tools and techniques for increasing their own strengths, knowledge and understanding. Our training helps students build character and resilience, to enable them to develop as well rounded individuals. Most importantly it helps them develop wellbeing and move towards flourishing.

Secondary School VIA Strengths Art Project

We support schools to develop and embed their own strengths based interventions based on research and practical know how that involve supporting schools to use strengths approaches such as:

  • Students identifying their own strengths
  • Students identifying lesser strengths ( their are  weaknesses in our approach to strengths)
  • Staff spotting and feeding back strengths to students
  • Using the strengths to help learning, achievement and wellbeing
  • Learn to recognise strengths in others
  • Identifying strengths of the group, class or whole school community
  • Plan and envision their strengths use in future.
  • Strengths based reflection
  • Strengths based goal setting

Our Strengths based approach to developing student wellbeing is built into our programmes and support for schools. These include

  • Whole School Approach - using strengths a part of multi component strategy that incorporates, motivates and empowers the whole school to promote mental wellbeing and tackle mental health issues – creating an ethos and culture of resilience and wellbeing.
  • Resilience Coaching Sessions for Studentsusing strengths through coaching sessions that improve a young person’s performance in school, enhance their psychological wellbeing, improve engagement and create their own success in life.
  • Peer to Peer Support for Studentsyoung people act as peer supporters and are trained and supported appropriately to help improve the mental health of other students.
  • Develop a culture and ethos of strengths - join our Wellbeing Club to learn how to develop a strengths based ethos and culture, putting Positive Education at the heart of your school community

Find out more about how we can support you to develop strengths in the children and young people you work with

If you would like to find out more about our approach to supporting schools to develop children and young people's mental health and wellbeing access our FREE Introductory workshop or access our FREE Mini Course, which provides an example of how one school has developed whole school wellbeing.

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