Positive relationships

Positive relationships is a research-based measure from the Tell Them From Me surveys. It is a source of evidence linked to What Works Best and the School Excellence Framework.

What is it?

Positive relationships refer to students’ friendships with their peers that help them form positive social connections and meaningful participation within the school.

The Tell Them From Me surveys ask students about their friendships at school. Students are not asked about a specific subject or teacher. The results are reported as students’ average score for positive learning climate.

Why is it important?

Positive peer relationships promote engagement and a sense of belonging, while negative peer experiences are associated with school disengagement. The results are reported as the percentage of students with positive relationships.

School improvement links

School Excellence Framework element What works best theme
Wellbeing Wellbeing


Evidence base

Juvonen, J. (2007). Reforming middle schools: Focus on continuity, social connectedness, and engagement. Educational Psychologist, 42(4), 197-208.

Kindermann, T. A., McCollam, T. L., & Gibson, E. (1996). Peer networks and students’ classroom engagement during childhood and adolescence. In J. Juvonen & K. R. Wentzel (Eds.), Social motivation: Understanding children’s school adjustment (pp. 279–312). New York: Cambridge University Press.

Martin, A. J., & Dowson, M. (2009). Interpersonal relationships, motivation, engagement, and achievement: Yields for theory, current issues, and educational practice. Review of Educational Research, 79(1), 327-365.

OECD (2013), Ready to learn: Students’ engagement, drive and self-beliefs (PISA 2012 results: Volume III). Paris: OECD Publishing.

Image: This explainer has been produced in collaboration with The Learning Bar.

Explainers of the Tell Them From Me measures have been produced in collaboration with The Learning Bar. The Tell Them From Me measures are provided by, and remain the intellectual property of, The Learning Bar. The explainers can also be found online within the Tell Them From Me portal. Tell Them From Me and TTFM are trademarks of The Learning Bar.


  • Student engagement and wellbeing
  • Tell Them From Me

Business Unit:

  • Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation
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