At CIS, we seek for all students and staff to experience a daily sense of well-being, defined as a sense of agency over their lives, with opportunities to contribute their voices and exercise choice and leadership.

We believe that equipping students with the self-knowledge and skills to flourish is just as important as equipping them with the skills of critical thinking. 

Our well-being focus is not a formal taught programme. Rather, it is a set of attitudes inspired by Chinese traditions of self-cultivation, as well as the insights of positive psychology, that we aim to bring into every classroom and all aspects of school life. 

We hope that you will see well-being and agency in action in the way that our students and teachers interact with each other, in our school governance structures, and in every step we take on our journeys as lifelong learners.

Well-Being in Action

A simple example of how well-being might be brought into a CIS classroom could be a read-aloud session where a teacher asks students to spot the book character’s strengths, then relate them to their own strengths.


0m36s - Honesty? Hope? Humor? Curiosity?... Y5s & Y6s talk about their Character Strengths

2m55s - Amy: “I started Muse because [we] needed a platform to highlight the individual voices that build our community.” 

4m50s - Hannah: “Student agency and student voice fosters a very positive mentality in students, knowing that their own voices matter and if they step up to the plate they can make change happen.”

Ways in which students HELP SHAPE SCHOOL LIFE: 

  • Whole-School Advisory Committee

This committee of staff, parents, and student representatives in Years 5-13 has been helping to shape the School Calendar, the Responsible Use Policy for technology, and the Secondary Home Learning Policy.

  • Peer Mentorship Programme

With training and guidance by staff counsellors, Year 5-6 students are mentoring Reception students and Year 11 students are mentoring students in Years 7 to 9.

  • Primary School Agreements

Representatives from every homeroom have decided on key norms for behaviour. 

  • Flexi-Time

In the Secondary school, time has been allocated every day so that, over the course of a week, students can learn about well-being techniques and take mini-courses of their own choosing, some of which they teach to their peers.

  • Middle School & Upper School Forums

These forums provide channels for Secondary student representatives to give input to the timetable, the Flexi-Time time slot and year-level assemblies.

Well-Being, Environmental Sustainability & "CIS Footprint"

The CIS Footprint sustainability audit came to life in 2019-20 out of the knowledge that the current generation of CIS students cares deeply about the environmental health of the planet and in the belief that students of every age need scaffolded opportunities to exercise their powers of agency. 

Working under the supervision of Metanoia consultancy, over 50 CIS students spent an academic year collecting quantitative and qualitative data about the school's consumption of water, gas and electricity; food and general waste; and traffic footprint.
Hear from our Footprint students:

Students are using the resulting data and analytical skills as a baseline to guide the school in making measurable progress toward improving its use of resources. 

Learn more about CIS Footprint and the student group "Drop in the Ocean".

CIS’s Well-Being Journey

Well-Being 1.0: Positive Education

In 2011, school leaders responsible for student support and counselling began to look for new ways to support the emotional well-being of students. Vanguard members of the faculty attended seminars, met with advocates and practitioners, visited schools, and read widely.

In 2013, CIS began working with Professor Lea Waters from The University of Melbourne to train all staff in the foundations of positive psychology. With her support and inspiration, what we called “Positive Education” was introduced to CIS and took root. 

Well-Being 2.0: Visible Well-Being Partnership

In 2018-19, a task force comprised of students, staff and parents reviewed CIS’s well-being achievements to date and made recommendations to deepen opportunities for student and staff well-being and agency.

From 2020, CIS again began working with Professor Lea Waters to adopt her Visible Well-Being  “SEARCH” framework and bring a common set of goals and practices to all stakeholder groups. The goal is to ensure that well-being and agency become integral parts of school culture, governance and policies, as well as academic and co-curricular life.

Hear about Professor Waters's work with CIS from 2020-21 through 2022-23.

See our 3-year timeline elsewhere on this page.


Thank You,
Annual Fund!

CIS's well-being focus has been made possible because of generous support from the Annual Fund. Well-being was the Annual Fund's flagship initiative in 2012-13, and again in 2018-19 and 2019-20, with a new emphasis on Student Agency.

Visit the Annual Fund page to learn more.

The Visible Well-Being (VWB) Partnership



  • Project timeline established
  • Staff positions established:
    -Well-Being Integrators
    -Coordinator for Parent Partnership
    -Coordinator for Peer Mentorship 
  • Project Leaders selected:
    -Tracy Hayes-Williams (Primary)
    -Brian Mulcahy (Secondary)
  • Baseline survey conducted
  • Half-day workshop with student leaders
  • Feedback session with CISPTA
  • First two modules delivered to all staff virtually
    -Introduction to VWB
    -VWB Practice
  • Senior Leadership Team meeting


In-Person & Virtual

  • All-staff Training (in-person):
    -Emotional Management
    -Attention & Awareness
  • Implementation Team selected
    -Full day of training
    -Quarterly coaching (virtual)
  • Parent Night (in-person)
  • Showcase Module


In-Person & Virtual

  • All-staff Training (in-person):
    -Habits & Goals
    -VWB process 
  • Implementation team feedback and recommendations day (virtual)
  • Visible Well-Being @CIS video
  • Additional surveying