Dear SCBC community,

During the COVID-19 induced, home-schooling phase of this year, it’s highly likely you thought about how your children learn.

The purpose of this message is to encourage prioritising the importance of healthy relationships. When our staff was planning for 2020, they were asked what was believed to be the most important focus for students. The majority identified ‘healthy relationships’.  

The Power of Good Relationships

In education, people and programmes matter. At SCBC, people-work comes before paper-work. ‘Students who love school and have healthy relationships with adults have a strong sense of belonging. They know they matter. When they feel that their teachers like them as individuals, they in turn like their teachers. Because of this relationship, they are co-operative and motivated to work hard’ (Tassione, G., Inlay, L.). This arguably increases the likelihood of their success.

During my early years in education, I was introduced to ‘Action Learning’. When considering a formula for ideal learning, a Physicist (Reginald Reynolds) at the University of Cambridge proposed L = P + Q, i.e. Learning equals Programming plus Questions. ‘Epistemology’ is the theory of knowledge. Reynold’s epistemological understanding was used as a means of transforming Willetton Senior High School from a trending new suburban school in the late 1980s, into one of WA’s most successful government schools. Excellent teachers rigorously plan (i.e. programming) and actively encourage questions.

The Harvard University study below suggests that beyond cleverness, the central, motivating importance of relationships significantly increases wellbeing i.e. satisfaction with life (feeling good and functioning well). If young people function well, they are arguably more likely to experience effective learning. Not negating the cleverness of Cambridge Scientists, over 30 years experience in education leads me to extend Reynold’s theory of learning to become:

L = R + P + Q.

R’ = Relationships.  

Insights gained from the longest running study on happiness

The following information is evidence of the positive power of healthy relationships. Harvard Medical School has shared insights into the longest running study on happiness i.e. the Harvard Study of Adult Development. A quick heads-up, this US-based study focussed on studying the lives of 724 men from their teenage lives in 1938, and continues today. The study has been going for 75 years. Approximately 60 men now in their 90’s are still alive. The original group of men was from Boston’s poorest neighbourhoods and Harvard undergraduates.

You can view a summary of the study at

The clearest message that emerged from the study is that good relationships keep us healthier and happier. There were three insights to relationships:

  • Social connections are really good for us, and that loneliness kills. People who are more socially connected are physically healthier and live longer than those who are more isolated or lonely.
  • It’s the quality of relationships that makes the most significant difference to happiness. This is more important than the number of friends a person has or if they are in a committed relationship. Living with frequent conflict is bad for our health. Living in the midst of relationships that are warm and affectionate, are protective and good for our health. Good relationships buffer against mood swings and depression.
  • Good relationships don’t just protect our bodies, they also protect our brains. Being in a securely attached relationship with another person when you are older is protective. People who feel they can depend on another person during a time of need are more likely to have a good memory. Good relationships don’t have to be smooth all the time. Where there is trust, then their memory is better.  

The people in the study who faired the best in their later years were those who lent into family, friends, and community. They increasingly invested in relationships.

Biblical wisdom on relationships

There are many verses in the Bible that help reflect God’s importance on relationships. Below are a few examples.

  • Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:13)
  • Honour your father and mother, and love your neighbour as yourself. (Matthew 19:19)
  • A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity. (Proverbs 17:17)
  • How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity. (Psalm 133:1)

As a faith-first Christian community, founded by Rockingham Baptist Church back in the early 1980s, relationships have always been valued. At SCBC, our heart for service is to promote healthy relationships within our community. We believe it leads to improved student outcomes. At the very least, it contributes to a friendly environment, promoting effective teaching and learning. Healthy relationships are encouraged in the Bible, associated with improved physical and mental wellbeing, protective of our health, and associated with improved brain function.

Your contribution to healthy relationships at SCBC could positively increase the likelihood of your children’s success. Together, we can help our young people have a happy and rewarding school experience.


With support,

Des Mitchell