Worth-it is a positive education company, founded by one of the UK's leading practitioners in positive psychology in education, Liz Robson-Kelly.

Our aim is to support as many schools and organisations as we can to empower children and young people to lead happy and healthy lives and achieve their full potential, by helping young people learn and develop strategies which improve their wellbeing and protect their mental health. To find out more our Ultimate Guide to Mental Health and Wellbeing in Schools explores this in greater depth.

Our interventions that build wellbeing in schools are based on the SEARCH pathways (1) which provide a framework for embedding wellbeing across whole school systems and underpin our positive mental health and wellbeing programmes.

What is positive psychology?

Positive psychology is the empirical study of meaning, success and wellbeing, the application of which not only increases wellbeing but reduces risk of mental ill-health.

What is positive education?

Positive education is the use of positive psychology within education. There is a growing body of evidence supporting the use of positive education to develop pupil wellbeing and reduce risk of mental ill health. The term positive education was ‘coined by Professor Martin Seligman and colleagues in 2009, who proposed that schools should "teach both the skills of wellbeing and the skills of achievement".’ (1)

Positive education is about protecting the mental health of young people and promoting feelings of happiness and joy, which in turn are associated with fewer behavioural problems and improved academic success. We believe in promoting good mental health across all children and young people as well as supporting those who may already be at risk of developing mental problems, such as anxiety of depression, to develop strategies to improve their mental health.

What is the SEARCH wellbeing framework?

SEARCH is a data-driven meta framework developed by Waters and Loton (2019) 'designed to help school leaders, teachers and practitioners make evidence-based decisions when implementing positive education interventions.'(1)

It is widely recognised that to successfully build wellbeing in students an embedded approach throughout a school or setting is required rather than simply delivering a stand-alone positive education intervention.

Waters and Loton developed the SEARCH framework through large scale literature review of evidence from across the globe (collated from multiple studies involving 35,888 students) as well as action-research to test the practical validity of the framework.

Through their research and refinement, involving the input of educators and young people, Waters and Loton identified six overarching pathways to wellbeing (from which they generated the SEARCH acronym): strengths, emotional management, attention and awareness, relationships, coping, and habits and goals.

SEARCH Framework - Pathways to Wellbeing (Waters and Loton 2019)

The six pathways to school wellbeing identified in the SEARCH framework

  1. Strengths – pre-existing qualities within individuals that arise naturally and are intrinsically motivating to use and energising. We embed a language and lens of strength awareness and development into all our programmes. Find about more about strengths for secondary and strengths for primary.
  2. Emotional management – the ability to identify, understand and manage one’s emotions by understanding how emotions operate through our thoughts, feelings, and actions. Our programmes enable children and young people to learn strategies to understand and express all emotions and develop positive emotions: this is particularly useful in stress management.
  3. Attention and awareness – attention is our ability to focus, either on inner aspects of self, such as emotions and physical sensations, or on external stimuli. Awareness refers to the ability to pay attention to a stimulus as it occurs.  Mindfulness also plays an important role in this category. We help children and young people develop choice and control over where they put their attention, and build self-awareness.
  4. Relationships concerns the skills required to build and support supportive social relationships, develop belonging and connection, as well as capitalise on momentary social interactions. Much of our positive education work focuses on skills to develop positive relationships – communication skills – and understanding how we’re coming across to others.
  5. Coping and Resilience– defined as constantly changing cognitive and behavioural efforts to manage specific external and/or internal demands that are appraised as taxing or exceeding the resources of the person. Our programme helps children and young people identify what their personal stressors are and helps them build a broader range of coping strategies to be resilient and manage day to day challenges they face.
  6. Habits and goals. Habits are persistent and learned patterns and preferences in decision making and behaviour. Goals are formal milestones, endpoints, achievements, or aspirations, that articulate what people desire, aim for and are willing to invest effort in to. Our work utilises coaching, making goal striving behaviour and the development of wellbeing habits for life integral to everything we do in our work with children and young people.

Why use the SEARCH framework and not PERMA?

An alternative framework that underpins positive education programmes is Seligman's theory based PERMA (positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning, and accomplishment) framework (2). This is one of the most popular in the broader field of positive psychology but wasn't designed specifically for use in education.

Seligman's PERMA model

Through their rigorous research, Waters and Loton created the SEARCH framework specifically for supporting the design and implementation of interventions in educational settings. We implement the SEARCH pathways in all our programmes and interventions because it was developed with feedback from young people, it's evidence-based, data-driven and provides a multi-dimensional framework.

Why use SEARCH and not the Five Ways to Mental Wellbeing?

Five Ways to Wellbeing NEF

Evidence suggests that a small improvement in mental wellbeing can help to decrease some mental health problems and also help people to flourish. This document, produced by the New Economics Foundation (NEF) (3), sets out 5 actions to improve personal wellbeing:

  • Connect
  • Be active
  • Take notice
  • Keep learning
  • Give

Due to its simple and transferable nature, five ways to mental wellbeing share the importance of promoting positive mental health for the general population.

The research behind the five ways proposes that achieving a small change in these five areas would help the average level of wellbeing across the population and would produce a large decrease in the percentage with mental disorders, and also in the percentage of those “languishing”.

However, the purpose of this mental wellbeing framework is more general than the SEARCH Framework, which has been created by applied positive psychologists' and researchers for use specifically in education to develop wellbeing in schools and educational settings.

It is clear there is an overlap between the five ways and the six SEARCH Pathways. However, we champion the use of the SEARCH  Pathways due to the fact they are more recently and robustly researched and relevant to school settings.

As we specialise in working with working with schools that want to build wellbeing we champion the use of the SEARCH framework as the way to organise and share wellbeing activities and strategies with children and young people.

How We Apply the SEARCH Wellbeing Pathways to Support Schools

We have integrated the SEARCH pathways as the way to audit, plan and organise wellbeing strategies that are interwoven and embedded across our whole school wellbeing approach. You can think of the SEARCH pathways as ‘what to do’ to develop wellbeing in your school and our whole school approach is ‘how to do it’ – together they support you implement an evidence-informed wellbeing curriculum across your whole school system.

At Worth-it we believe pupil and staff wellbeing are interrelated and supporting one supports the other. As a company we can support your school to develop staff and student wellbeing, increasing the sense of belonging and community within your setting and positively affecting academic outcomes.

Want to know how to develop the SEARCH wellbeing framework in your school?

Worth-it have collaborated with ARH Primary to create a free example course of how to use SEARCH, along with our whole school system approach, to embed wellbeing across your school. Click here to access this free school wellbeing course.

Positive Education and the SEARCH framework are integral to our approach to developing a whole school approach and curriculum of wellbeing. If you want to learn how to develop the SEARCH pathways to wellbeing in your school, join our Wellbeing Toolkit Course as an Individual or Staff Team.


  1. SEARCH: A Meta-Framework and Review of the Field of Positive Education L. Waters & D. Loton International Journal of Applied Positive Psychology (2019) 4:1–46
  2. Flourish: A New Understanding of Happiness and Wellbeing: The practical guide to using positive psychology to make you happier and healthier. by Martin Seligman
  3. Five Ways to Mental Wellbeing: NEF 2008

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