Positive Behaviour for Learning evaluation: final report

Image: Positive Behaviour for Learning final report
Rebecca Wilkinson, Jessica Fulcher, Rochelle Cox
Evaluator company
Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation
Other evidence
Study type
Pre-post study
Evaluation type
Both process and outcome


Positive Behaviour for Learning (PBL) is a whole school approach that aims to create a positive, safe and supportive school climate in which students can learn and develop. The department provided $15M over four years to employ 32 PBL coach mentors and four PBL deputy principals to support schools in delivering this opt in initiative. CESE’s process and outcome evaluation comprised multiple surveys and fieldwork with participating and non-participating PBL schools, and undertook outcomes analyses of suspensions data, attendance data and Tell Them From Me data. The evaluation estimated more than 1100 schools were participating in PBL, with a retention rate of 94%. Almost all schools reported implementing each of the universal school-wide features of PBL. Coach mentors provided schools with professional learning, general information about PBL, and support with data and evaluation, and are viewed as a source of expert knowledge and advice.

Using their own internal school data, observations and feedback from parents, nearly nine in ten PBL schools reported perceiving PBL to have improved student wellbeing, and a large majority reported reductions in major and minor problem behaviour incidents since implementing PBL. There was a strong and widespread belief amongst schools that PBL is having a positive impact on student wellbeing and behaviour at the universal level. Currently, 1608 NSW public schools have implemented PBL. However, it has not been successful for Tiers 2 and 3 in targeted and individual support systems. The outcome analyses indicated no real difference in attendance rates, wellbeing and suspension rates between PBL schools and Non-PBL schools. We identified a number of limitations in the use of these data sources as outcome measures. Study limitations were identified that may have had an impact on the findings and these need to be considered when weighing this evidence against the feedback from schools. Behaviour and Student Participation have reviewed the human resources within the department to enact system-wide change to the way we support behaviour as part of the new Student Behaviour Strategy. As a result, the existing PBL Coach Mentors ceased at the end of 2020 and new Behaviour Specialist positions began on Day 1, Term 1, 2021.


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