Effective whole-school approaches provide a framework for schools to promote positive behaviour for all students as well as for groups of students or individual students who require additional or individualised support.
A safe and supportive school is one that:
- Actively seeks the involvement of school staff, students and families in the promotion and recognition of positive behaviour
- Embeds wellbeing and positive behaviour support strategies that are evidence-informed and that promote resilience and align with the needs of the school community
- Implements a whole-school systemic approach to wellbeing and positive behaviour with tiers of support to meet the diverse needs of staff, students and families
- Engages in professional learning to support the consistent implementation of the school’s plan for wellbeing and support for positive behaviour*
- Critically analyses and evaluate school data to inform decision-making in order to effectively respond to the changing needs of students and families.
A key feature of positive behaviour support in relation to anti-bullying is the explicit teaching and reinforcement of positive behavioural expectations across all school contexts (classroom, playground and online) and to all members of the school community.
Staff professional learning also builds the capacity of educators to identify opportunities for early intervention. It helps staff respond effectively with appropriate approaches and strategies and offer follow up support and monitoring of individual students and families who would benefit from additional support.
Schools should look for opportunities to extend professional learning to include casual, specialist, non-teaching, preservice and visiting staff to increase knowledge of bullying and the capacity of school staff to apply evidence-based bullying interventions (Rigby and Johnson 2016).
School leaders should assess current levels of staff knowledge and understanding regarding bullying including online bullying. They should also assess the capacity of staff members to recognise bullying behaviour and respond effectively and consistently.
* Research identifies that providing support and professional development for school staff is an essential component of effective anti-bullying strategies. For example, in researching the effectiveness of anti-bullying approaches, Ttofi and Farrington (2011) found teacher training to be significantly associated with a decrease in bullying. Similarly, a study of 136 high school teachers in Finland demonstrated that trained teachers reported that their handling of bullying was significantly more effective than untrained teachers (Sairanen & Pfeffer 2011).