Climate in schools.jpg

The issue:

In the realm of education, a crucial yet often overlooked factor in nurturing student success is the understanding and cultivation of the public school climate and culture. At the core of this intricate web are teachers, who serve as the cornerstone of any educational institution. To gain a comprehensive grasp of the dynamics influencing student academic performance and wellbeing, it is imperative to delve into the realm of teacher wellbeing and work engagement.

About the project:

Significance of Organizational Culture/Climate:
The public school climate represents the shared lived experience of the workplace, particularly the school site. It encompasses perceptions regarding practices, processes, systems, and leadership, as well as the nature of relationships among students, teachers, and administrators. A positive school climate fosters an environment where teachers feel heard, included in change efforts, and a sense of belonging. Similarly, a positive school climate creates an environment where educators can facilitate learning and instill a sense of belongingness in students, enabling them to feel safe, motivated, and empowered to learn. Conversely, a negative climate can impede both teacher engagement and wellbeing, as well as hinder student learning and development.

Teacher Wellbeing and Work Engagement:
Teacher wellbeing and work engagement are intricately linked to the school climate. When teachers perceive a school climate that enables them to feel supported, respected, and motivated by leadership and practices, they are more likely to experience higher levels of wellbeing and work engagement. Teacher wellbeing encompasses their physical, mental, and emotional health, while work engagement reflects their passion, commitment, and enthusiasm for teaching and school improvement.

Impacts on Student Academic Performance & Wellbeing:
Teacher wellbeing and work engagement exert a direct influence on the quality of education students receive. Engaged and emotionally well teachers are more likely to provide effective instruction, create supportive learning environments, and foster positive relationships with students. This, in turn, leads to improved student academic performance. Conversely, when teachers are emotionally drained or disengaged due to a negative school climate, it can have adverse effects on their students' learning outcomes.

In conclusion:
The study of public school climate and its impact on teacher wellbeing and work engagement is not a mere academic exercise; it represents a practical imperative for educators and school administrators. When teachers thrive within a positive school climate, their students reap the benefits in terms of enhanced academic performance and emotional wellbeing. By prioritizing the wellbeing of teachers and cultivating a nurturing school climate, we can unlock the full potential of our educational institutions, ensuring a brighter future for our students.

The Team:

Primary Investigator:
Dr. Ruchi Sinha (Associate Professor of Organizational Behaviors; PhD in Organizational Psychology)

SA Department for Education - This partnership has been a collaborative long-term relationship spanning from 2016 to 2023.


Informed Decision-Making: Principals and school administrators can make informed practical decisions based on the multi-year data collected on wellbeing, engagement, and climate to foster a positive school climate that supports both teachers and students. This has resulted in the implementation of policies and practices that promote collaboration, recognition, and emotional support among staff.

Professional Development: Recognizing the significance of principal leadership and teacher wellbeing and their connection to school climate has already initiated the development of targeted professional development programs. These programs are designed to equip both principals and teachers with shared leadership strategies, stress management techniques, emotional resilience, and strategies for creating positive classroom environments.

Student-Centred Approaches: Understanding the link between teacher and student wellbeing can drive the adoption of student-centered approaches to education. SA Public Schools have consistently prioritized the social and emotional needs of students, providing them with a safe and supportive learning environment. This project represents a significant step in that direction.

Additional Resources:

Contact Us:

If you represent a public or private sector organization seeking to understand, measure, and improve your staff wellbeing, engagement, and overall workplace climate, please do not hesitate to reach out to Dr. Ruchi Sinha (UniSA Business).