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What is a safe and supportive school environment?

"In a safe and supportive school, the risk from all types of harm is minimised, diversity is valued and all members of the school community feel respected and included and can be confident that they will receive support in the face of any threats to their safety or wellbeing." Source: National Safe Schools Framework 2010 (PDF, 4.5 MB) .

It is essential that all schools promote and provide a supportive learning community where all students feel and are safe. Students have a fundamental right to learn in a safe, supportive environment and to be treated with respect. Similarly, parents and other local community members have the right to feel safe, supported and respected in the school content.

School communities working together with staff, students and families can recognise, challenge and address issues that arise within the school.

What works (click to expand)

Research, both in Australia and overseas, has identified the following features as likely to be the most effective in preventing and reducing bullying:

  • A universal whole-school approach of long duration that takes a multi-faceted approach rather than focusing on one single component.
  • An increased awareness of bullying in the school community through assemblies, focus days and student-owned plans and activities.
  • A whole-school detailed policy that addresses bullying.
  • Effective classroom management and classroom rules.
  • The promotion of a positive school environment that provides safety, security and support for students and promotes positive relationships and student wellbeing.
  • Effective methods of behaviour management that are consistently used, are non-hostile and non-punitive.
  • Encouragement and skill development for all students (and especially bystanders) to respond negatively to bullying behaviour and support students who are bullied.

What we know doesn't work (click to expand)

There are many beliefs about bullying and ways of dealing with behaviour that have shown, through research, to be far less effective than whole-school positive behaviour support approaches. These include:

  • zero tolerance and 'get tough' suspensions and exclusions
  • rigid control of student behaviour
  • belief that students must receive punitive and negative consequences in all cases
  • increased security measures
  • unfair and inconsistent use of discipline
  • punishment without support.