Schools focus on student wellbeing a success - research

New research shows the dramatic success of a Government initiative in schools focusing on student wellbeing.

"Health promoting schools" gets kids involved in their community, and encourages family engagement.

Waiharara School in Northland is a decile one school - with a role of just 22 and has a school heavily focused on family.

But that hasn't always been the case.

"There wasn't a lot of opportunity for parents to come to school and when I arrived I didn't really get to meet many of them," Principal Toni O'Neil says.

That changed last year when the school joined the programme where the Ministry of Health asks schools to focus on wellbeing.

"We find out what our kids want and what they're good at and we take that with all the family, and the school, and the community, and we use it to extract and we start growing from there," School chairwoman Roberta Peterson-Smith says.

For Waiharara it's meant trips to a local marae to learn about their culture.

It's seen students travel the country for the first time and get kids engaged in community projects.

It's also shown improvements in reading, writing, and students behaviour.

Ms Peterson-Smith adds it makes a difference because they're happier, they go home happier, they want to go to school and they're happier at school.

Independent research out on Friday shows schools involved in the initiative are seeing a 60 percent increase of student attendance which has also been credited with a 42 percent reduction in suspensions.