Photo: Lei Guo

Introducing Visible Wellbeing™

Visible Wellbeing™ is a holistic, comprehensive, science-based and highly successful wellbeing education approach, developed by renowned psychologist and researcher Professor Lea Waters PhD.

Launched at Samuel Marsden Collegiate School in February 2019, it is how we’ll deliver our Strategic Plan Student Wellbeing goal. We are proud to be New Zealand’s first Visible Wellbeing School.


From the standpoint of maximising impact schools are the perfect place to teach wellbeing. Traditionally schools have been academic institutions only. As schools are where young people spend most of their time during their formative developmental years, they be can be dual-purpose; building academic skills and skills for mental health, recognising that increased wellbeing will have positive flow on effects to learning, and life well beyond school. Many OECD countries, including New Zealand, are now aiming to systematically foster both academic and wellbeing outcomes in school students.

Staff & Student Leaders at Visible Wellbeing™ Workshop 2020 with Professor Lea Waters

Staff & Student Leaders at Visible Wellbeing™ Workshop 2020 with Professor Lea Waters

What is wellbeing?

Wellbeing is what we experience when we feel good, function well, and as a result, do good.


It is fostered through Positive Education – the science and principles of positive psychology that teach you to:

  • have positive emotions; the ability to be optimistic and have a positive perspective
  • be fully engaged in what you do – so absorbed in wonderful present moments that ‘flow’ occurs
  • build and foster positive relationships; to enjoy social connection, and spread love and joy
  • live meaningfully – knowing the reason for your life; its greater purpose
  • set and work toward goals that give a sense of accomplishment.


These practices enable optimal wellbeing – the ability to thrive.

Marsden's wellbeing approach equips students to thrive and succeed academically – and for life!

Narelle Umbers, Principal

Narelle Umbers
Contact my EA, Alison McManus

What is Visible Wellbeing™?

Visible Wellbeing™ (VWB) is a whole school, integrated and evidence-informed approach to developing and sustaining student and staff wellbeing through positive education. It gives staff a well-defined body of positive education knowledge and practises that have been shown to have a positive impact on student wellbeing, which in turn enhances learning.


VWB combines the science of wellbeing and the science of learning and teaching to make wellbeing visible across all year levels, subjects and co-curricular activities.  The VWB techniques help teachers use the learning process itself as a delivery mechanism to build student wellbeing. It’s not a set curriculum or programme, but a flexible approach which can be applied in all learning contexts.


Practising the thinking, habits and skills introduced enables people to not only be ok, or do well, but to be their best – to thrive to the point that it’s evident – indeed, visible.


Given the concerning international and New Zealand youth mental health statistics today, Visible Wellbeing aims to both prevent mental illness and promote wellness as the approach is applied in a targeted way that harnesses and builds strengths together with reducing deficits and addressing problems.

When you feel good and function well you learn better.

Anne Field, Pastoral Care Director

Anne Field
Pastoral Care Director, Dean Y11-13
(04) 476 8707
Anne has a long and treasured association with Marsden.

Why Visible Wellbeing™?

Because it has:


  • been developed and will be delivered by internationally acclaimed, leading positive psychology expert, Professor Lea Waters and her team
  • been scientifically based, tried and tested
  • been proven to:

enhance academic performance

-  help prevent and address mental and emotional health issues;

and because we want everyone at Marsden to thrive!

Lea Waters talks about Visible Wellbeing™ with senior Marsden students

Lea Waters talks about Visible Wellbeing™ with senior Marsden students

The evidence

Visible Wellbeing™ has been well tested, across primary, secondary and Year 1-13 co-ed and single sex schools in government and independent systems in North America, Asia, Australia and the Middle East. 


According to two decades of research, a student who has high levels of wellbeing is also likely to have better physical health, better social relationships, more optimism for the future and higher academic performance. 


It also has a positive impact on a student’s life well into adult life, with longitudinal research showing that wellbeing in the teen years impacts employment, earning capacity, relationship satisfaction and the likelihood of volunteering in one’s 30s and 40s.

Who? More about Professor Lea Waters

We’re partnering with the best in the field.  Professor Waters is the President of the International Positive Psychology Association, has affiliate positions with Cambridge University, the University of Michigan and  Berkeley University. She is the Ambassador for the Positive Education Schools Association and Patron of Flourishing Education Japan. 


A Psychologist who has been researching at the University of Melbourne for 23 years, Lea has published over 100 articles and book chapters.  It was this high-impact research in psychology and education that culminated in her Visible Wellbeing™ approach.

Partnership features:

  • whole-staff training
  • presentations to our parents and community
  • consultation with the Senior Management Team
  • coaching the Visible Wellbeing™ Implementation Team
  • resourcing; provision of a flexible, research-based curriculum and set of wellbeing practices
  • visible signage and messaging; common language, thinking and understandings
  • auditing and evaluation

Content includes:

  • How to identify wellbeing in oneself and others; the Look, See, Hear process.
  • Individual character strength analysis.
  • The SEARCH framework – Strengths, Emotional Management, Attention & Awareness, Relationships, Coping, Habits and Goals.
  • Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) - fostering self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision making.
  • cultivating positive states – such as gratitude and meaning.
  • embracing positive practices – such as savouring (appreciating, dwelling in or reflecting on positive experiences) and active-constructive responding.
  • building positive traits – such as character strengths and prosocial behaviour.


We expect the Visible Wellbeing­™ partnership will:

  • teach staff and students to see wellbeing – ours and others – and to systematically build it.
  • complement our exemplary Pastoral care programme and support of individuals.
  • equip our students to:

-   have the learning, skills and tools to live and model healthy approaches to life.

-   be strong academically and personally.

-   be their best and impact others for good.


See for yourself

To find out more about the Visible Wellbeing approach at Marsden come to an Open Day or contact us to have a conversation about your child’s wellbeing or to book a tour or time in class. 


Contact our Enrolment Registrar (04)476 8707