The Links Between Poor Well-Being and Impaired Academic Performance


Improving your pastoral dashboard, can actually help drive academic improvements

Research evidence shows that health, wellbeing and attainment are closely linked. So promoting the health and wellbeing of pupils within schools and colleges has the potential to improve their educational outcomes and their health and wellbeing outcomes.

The PHE report Public Health England: The link between pupil health and well-being and attainment states:

Pupil wellbeing predicted their later academic progression and engagement in school

For example, pupils with better emotional wellbeing at age seven had a value-added key stage 2 score 2.46 points higher (equivalent to more than one term’s progress) than pupils with poorer emotional wellbeing.

Pupils with better attention skills also make more progress across the four key stages

For example, pupils with no attention problems at age 13 had a total value-added GCSE score that was equivalent to more than one extra GCSE at grade A* (63.38 points higher).

STEER Tracking allows schools to identify social-emotional biases that might not only lead to increased social-emotional risks but will also impact on their ability to learn in the classroom.

The chart below summarises the four major factors affecting social-emotional mental health, the 8 polar biases for each of those factors and a summary of how this impacts on learning behaviours and therefore academic progress.

Finally, a bold line connecting mental health and well-being and academic progress rather than a dotted one!

This table illustrates how the eight STEER polar biases impact students’ learning behaviours in your classrooms.  It demonstrates to your teaching staff that a pupil’s ability to self-regulate and “STEER” gives them the skills to be more effective learners. This will directly impact your school’s academic progress data.

Improved student steering > Improved academic outcomes

Polar low Self Disclosure RIsks
Healthy Self Disclosure
Polar High Self Disclosure Risks

  • Mask what really thinking and feeling in lessons

  • Social isolation – perceived or intentional

  • Passive in lessons, conversations, and activities

  • Unlikely to reach out in lessons for challenge, clarity or support, limiting academic progress

  • Hidden, limiting thoughts and opinions

Students who steer their self disclosure choose when to share their thoughts, feelings, ideas and opinions with others, and when to keep them private

  • Learned helplessness when facing problems or confused in lessons, 
  • reaching out too soon rather than persevering; may dominate group discussions preventing others from contributing; 
  • may interrupt flow of learning in a lesson frustrating others; may not develop listening and collaborative skills that support teamwork and shared learning processes; 
  • struggle to develop skills for focussed independent work. 
  • Issues with impulsivity when answering questions orally or on paper.
Polar low Self Trust of Self Risks
Healthy Trust of Self
Polar High Trust of Self Risks

  • Self-doubting and self-critical, dismissing learning strengths and successes

  • Easily influenced by what others think, feel or do in class

  • In-class behaviours to seek or avoid attention

  • Overly sensitive to feedback

  • Limited learner efficacy and resilience, easily defeated or overwhelmed

Students who steer their Trust of Self choose when to trust their thoughts, ideas, qualities, skills, and opinions and when to question them

  • Self-assured, dismissing learning weaknesses and setbacks

  • Indifferent to feedback, support or guidance

  • Strong, fixed, opinions and ideas

  • Critical or thoughtless in classroom interactions

  • Overly competitive and driven, or overly optimistic and complacent

  • Limited learner efficacy and resilience; avoiding failure or struggle

Polar Low Self Trust of Others Risks
Healthy Trust of Others
Polar High Trust of Others Risks

  • Sceptical of or indifferent to  affirmation, guidance or support

  • Suspicious or critical of others’ ideas, opinions and requests

  • Territorial, protective, controlling of own ideas and plans

  • Stubborn, inflexible, autonomous in collaborative tasks

  • Highly alert to slight, injustice, peer ranking

Students who steer their Trust of Others  choose when to trust other peoples’  thoughts, ideas, qualities, skills, and opinions and when to question them

  • Reliant / expectant of  others’ attention and approval

  • Limited learner efficacy, leading to  learned helplessness

  • Overly accepting and responsive  to others’ ideas and opinions, without due scrutiny

  • Easily led,  carried along by others’ behaviour

  • Highly  conscientious,  leading to work related stress

  • Entitled and  complacent, assuming success without effort

Polar Low Seeking Change Risks
Healthy Seeking Change
Polar High Seeking Change Risks

  • Perfectionism, unhealthy levels of control, focus, discipline

  • Hyperfocus, rumination, over-checking and fixation

  • Inflexible, fixed, ideas and opinions

  • Stubborn, unwilling to compromise

  • Anxious in unpredictable, unfamiliar learning contexts

  • Risk aversion, inhibition, avoidance, refusal

Students who steer their Seeking Change choose when to change or explore new relationships, opportunities and ideas,  and when to limit change by making relationships, opportunities and ideas more secure and predictable.

  • Limited perseverance, focus, and commitment to a task or process

  • Impulsive  and careless  in approach to learning

  • Inadequate  planning and preparation

  • Poor self-management of time and resources, often without equipment

  • Unsustainable pace and goal setting, risking burnout

  • Unrealistic  plans and ideas