Gilda Scarfe

Founder & CEO

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, 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. 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. Gilda is also a global ambassador for the International Positive Education Network (IPEN). 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.


Neuroscience & Wellbeing

26 February 2019 | 12:30 - 13:00 | English | Positive Education: Empowering Students and Teachers to Flourish

The provision of treatment to young people with mental disorders poses a great economic burden on society. Recognizing these issues, a number of researchers have contended that it is better to promote the development of resilient functioning as early as possible in the course of development than to implement intervention strategies. Our research describes and reflects on a wellbeing and mental toughness programme concerned developing personal ‘mental toughness traits’ and wellbeing in young people. The term ‘mental toughness’ does not have a clear definition in education; We explore the meaning of this term, as well as reflecting on the importance of embedding wellbeing in education through the application of positive psychology domains.

GESS Talks Arena

27 February 2019 | 13:30 - 13:40 | English | GESS Bites: Are we Embracing the Soft Skills Agenda Superficially and Unconditionally in Education?

We must be intelligent and informed in the ways we embrace the notion of soft skills.  Where the notion has been adopted unconditionally it has become integrated into the thinking of the Orthodoxy and has quickly become vague and ideologically driven focusing, for example, on skills such as empathy, happiness and cooperation rather than decisiveness, leadership and resilience. There is overwhelming evidence that without critical prior analysis or considered implementation such initiatives have not led to their expected benefits and have even produced the opposite effects in students from those initially intended.

Leadership stream

27 February 2019 | 15:00 - 15:30 | English | The Link Between Instructional Leadership and Student Wellbeing Outcomes

The research has found that “leading teacher learning and development” is twice as powerful as any other leadership factor in affecting student outcomes. Instructional leadership, especially as a shared leadership model, is vital because teacher learning has a strong impact on student learning. Over the past few decades, instructional leadership has focused on how teacher practice can improve academic outcomes, but this can be applied in assisting teachers to boost another equally important outcome for students – wellbeing. We help schools translate wellbeing policy into teacher practice and we explore what teacher practices work to improve student wellbeing in order to close the gap between academic attainment and wellbeing.

GESS Talks Arena

28 February 2019 | 11:55 - 12:15 | English | Keynote: Empowering Students Through a Strengths-Based Approach to Bullying Education

We are all hard-wired to pay attention to the negative. The ‘negativity bias’ is an ancient survival tool that helps us remain vigilant and respond to threats in our environment. Teachers and parents will know this bias all too well, as often they find themselves trying to fix the children’s shortcomings and pointing out how to change their behaviour. This is a normal human response – we do it because we want children to stay safe and do well in the world! So how can strengths be used to address bullying in schools?

GESS Talks Arena

28 February 2019 | 14:00 - 15:00 | English | Panel Session

Given the competition in international schools.  How can a curriculum including Performing Arts and Sports offer students resilience in a changing learning environment and ensure they have essential soft skills for the FE/HE and workplace.

Panel session followed by demonstrations from students