Education Division 
Election 2018

Biography:

Gilda Scarfe is the CEO and Founder of Positive Action UK a leading and innovative company using research to develop, implement and evaluate mental toughness, wellbeing and resilience programmes in schools. With a degree in Philology, CPE in Law and Positive Psychology and over 15 years facilitating in business performance and education contexts, Gilda specialises in creating curriculums that are evidence based, meaningful and make a powerful impression. An expert in helping young people understand and effectively play to their character strengths.

She has worked with teams across the private and state funded schools to promote and imbed positive psychology in the PHSE curriculum. Her work has included strategic planning for designing, delivering and implementing wellbeing and mental toughness programmes in schools, framework redesign for primary and secondary schools, as well as strengths-based coaching using the VIA instrument. She is currently completing her Ph.D. in positive psychology. She has been responsible for the organisation and implementation of the Positive Psychology/Education strategy at several grammar school in the UK and has supported the strategic direction and implementation of Illuminate Education a non-profit organisation promoting Positive Education initiatives. She is an extrovert who enjoys hiking, reading, writing, travel, and pursuing life-long learning. Her dream is for every school in the UK to fully and seamlessly incorporate positive education into their curriculum and application for students, families, and staff. Passionate about improving wellbeing and mental toughness in education through innovative yet simple and clear interventions, Gilda is always keen to bridge the gap between academics and practitioners in making a practical and powerful impact to the world of education.

Statement of Interest:

My life’s goal is to ensure that positive psychology interventions become part of the school curriculum around the world. I want to empower young people, teachers and the entire education community to flourish and become the best version of themselves. It would be a privilege and an honour to support the division President in fulfilling the goals and objectives of the division.

I am very passionate about the application of positive psychology in education as well as my life’s daily practice. Whilst pregnant with my son and bedridden after several heart-breaking attempts to have a child I started evaluating my life and I found myself disillusioned about my job in law, being mainly driven by perfection, success and accolades. I realised that I have lost a part of myself, I lost my identity to a degree. Then a friend of mine brought me couple of books which changed my life. Those books were “Authentic Happiness” By Martin Seligman and “The Evolving Self Book” by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. I was always intrigued about human behaviour, what makes a person happy and how one achieves that.

Most of my childhood and early adulthood I spent it in a communist country, where the only drive was to find a way to get out and become successful in my own right to ensure a happy and fulfilled life. Little did I know that being successful doesn’t necessary mean being happy. So, that was the moment when I realised that my life is about to take a 360 degree turn, and that turn was to study positive psychology and see where that is going to take me. I left my job in pursuit of happiness!

In the meantime, my son was growing up fast and started school. I realised that what I wanted most in the world is for my son flourish.

Whilst volunteering for an education charity that delivered a range of services to empower young people to build the skills and confidence they need to move into sustainable education I was asked to provide a workshop in wellbeing. The workshop was a success with teachers wanting the same thing: to flourish and to live a life well balanced. That was my moment. From that point I started contacting every school in the area to talk about the importance of implementing positive psychology interventions. I read every research paper published, every book on positive psychology I could get. That drove me to start Positive Action UK in 2014. It was a very hard road to travel for few years, after leaving a very successful and well-paid job. Convincing headteachers the importance of wellbeing in a system driven mainly by test results and league tables was a very hard task. I embarked on educating teachers and headteachers about the importance of positive psychology interventions. I talked about Martin Seligman and PERMA, I talked about flourishing until finally I had a breakthrough. Several schools asked me if I can develop a bespoke programme based on positive psychology, so that’s how I developed my first positive psychology programme for secondary schools. The programme is now part of my PHD, we are in the 2nd year of evaluation and the results so far are very encouraging.

I am seeing the growing need, from the education community and from a rapidly growing research base in the learning sciences, to expand the meaning, purpose, and goals of education, and to holistically transform students learning experiences, motivations and outcomes. The world is changing ever more rapidly, and it is becoming clear that preparing children for today’s world. This young people will be graduating over a decade later into a very different world with very different challenges and opportunities.

Educational progress is falling behind the curve of technological progress, resulting in social unhappiness. I am seeking a holistic approach to make wellbeing part of the curriculum, by offering a complete framework found in positive psychology across the four dimensions of an education: knowledge, skills, character, and metacognition.

I work with teams across the private and state funded schools to promote and imbed positive psychology in the PHSE curriculum. My work includes strategic planning for designing, delivering and implementing wellbeing and mental toughness programmes in schools, framework redesign for primary and secondary schools, as well as strengths-based coaching using the VIA instrument.

I have been responsible for the organisation and implementation of the Positive Psychology/Education strategy at several grammar school in the UK and has supported the strategic direction and implementation of Illuminate Education a non-profit organisation promoting Positive Education initiatives.

I am an extrovert who enjoys hiking, reading, writing, travel, and pursuing life-long learning. My dream is for every school to fully and seamlessly incorporate positive education into their curriculum and application for students, families, and staff.

I am passionate about improving wellbeing and mental toughness in education through innovative, yet simple and clear interventions found in positive psychology and my intention is to bridge the gap between academics and practitioners in making a practical and powerful impact to the world of education.

I would very much love the opportunity and privilege of being considered as a valued member of the team and passionately contributing and supporting the IPPA community.