The Whole Student



About the Model

It respects the complexity of children while expanding their capacities
— teacher

The promotion of student wellbeing should include explicit instruction of social, emotional and critical and creative thinking skills using pedagogical choices that support students’ autonomy, their feelings of competence and their sense of connection to their peers and teachers.

The Whole Student model clarifies the process with which teachers should organise their classrooms.

Training courses guide educators to apply it to their teaching programs by introducing them to needs supportive teaching strategies and social and emotional learning curriculum.

What does the model represent?

copyright Pennington Education

The soil represents a classroom environment in which teaching strategies that satisfy basic psychological needs (autonomy (A), belonging (B) and competence (C)) are utilised.

In turn, the soil provides nutrients for the seeds, that is, the explicit instruction of social (S), emotional (E) and critical and creative thinking skills (T). These skills can be taught using a range of programs and frameworks.

A needs supportive classroom environment together with the promotion of SET skills results in two fruits: the academic and personal success of the students.

[A student’s] role is not simply to do tasks as decided by teachers, but to actively manage and understand their learning gains. This includes evaluating their own progress, being more responsible for their learning, and being involved with peers
— professor john hattie

Social, Emotional and Academic (thinking) Competencies (SET)

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The Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) identifies five competencies that help students to deal effectively and ethically with daily life: self-awareness, self-management, social-awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision making.

This is an academic intervention as well as a social emotional one. When teachers prioritise pedagogy that promotes these competencies, students are engaged and achieve academic outcomes (Durlak, 2011).

Self Determination Theory (the ABC)


Self-determination theory (Ryan & Deci, 2000) is a theory that arose from wide-ranging studies of social and psychological determinants of intrinsic motivation, wellbeing, personality, interest, and developmental processes. The theory links wellbeing with three basic human needs—autonomy, competence, and relatedness (belonging).

Applied to an educational context, the theory suggests that students are naturally curious and have an interest in self-development, which can be utilised to enhance wellbeing and academic outcomes.

The Creator

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Rose Pennington is a primary school teacher, education consultant and PhD candidate passionate about the development of social and emotional skills in children so that they may achieve wellbeing, resilience and academic goals. She provides training, information and resources to teachers and parents so that they can do the same.

At her first school she was introduced to a social emotional learning program and her passion was sparked - she has since completed a Masters research thesis about effective implementation of the Bounce Back program and is now completing her PhD researching the classroom practices most conducive to student wellbeing and academic achievement.

Rose has been mentored by the student wellbeing specialist Dr Toni Noble, along with her PhD supervisors Professor Alex Yeung and Dr Anthony Dillon.

She understands teachers' workloads and has created workshops and resources to make it easy for them to integrate the development of social and emotional skills along with academic outcomes in their lessons. Please get in touch with any questions or comments! Collaboration is the key to success in education, as it is in any industry.