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C2 Module 2.3

Resilience programs and planning

Before You Begin

What would you say are the key features of a successful whole school resilience program?

Research shows that schools often struggle to successfully implement and sustain student resilience programs over the longer term.

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A successful resilience program can help schools strengthen student resilience – but what makes a program successful?

What is a resilience program?

MindMatters defines a resilience program as a ready-made set of lessons (or sessions) that seek to explicitly teach or strengthen skills or capacities for students to manage life challenges, so as to maintain mental wellbeing. There are a number of theoretical models that underpin ‘resilience’ programs with the following representing some of the more common or emerging models:

  • Social and emotional learning (SEL)
  • Cognitive behavioural approaches
  • Positive psychology
  • Mindfulness.
These theoretical models are overviewed in Module 2.2 Developing resilience.

A whole school approach to resilience

Using an evidence-based resilience program is a great way to provide students with proven means of developing their skills and capacities to effectively deal with everyday life challenges.

To get the most out of resilience programs they should be part of a wider whole school approach to resilience. Some of the key features of a successful whole school resilience approach include:


  • school leadership is driving implementation and providing ongoing support
  • programs are integrated into curriculum and planned
  • broader policies and practices are in place that support school community resilience
  • staff have ‘bought into’ the program and work to develop their own skills for resilience
  • every adult in the school can be a teacher of resilience
  • parents and families understand and support the school’s work in this area.

How to choose the right resilience program for your school

Schools will want to ensure that the time and resources being invested in a program are not only well spent, but also have the desired impacts on student resilience and mental health. Programs are more likely to be successful in strengthening student resilience when they:

  • are based on a sound theoretical framework that incorporates an understanding of adolescent development, learning principles and prevention science
  • have some research evidence of effectiveness
  • actively engage students
  • have clarity with respect to objectives, implementation guidelines, tools and resources
  • provide sufficient training and support (if staff delivered)
  • provide structured activities to guide students toward achievement of specific goals
  • are interactive in nature (e.g. may use coaching, cooperative learning or role playing scenarios)
  • are sustainable and consider ongoing costs and staff turnover.

Successfully implementing a resilience program

Research shows that schools often struggle to successfully implement and sustain student resilience programs over the long-term. To improve the chances of success, it is important that schools are aware of program options and make conscious decisions around their choices, in particular:

  • the extent to which the program is a good ‘fit’ with the school’s mission, values, goals, and curriculum
  • the extent to which the program is viewed as meeting students’ needs and able to engage them
  • the level of school community buy-in (staff, students and parents)
  • the amount of resourcing required (e.g. staffing resources and funding for training and materials)
  • the level of ongoing leadership support and planning required.

How could you help maximise the impact of a resilience program at your school?

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