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Indicators of safe schools

(from Janis Caroll-Lind (2010). Responsive Schools. Wellington: Office of the Children's Commissioner. pp 10-12)

As part of the Office of the Children’s Commissioner’s inquiry into school safety, a matrix of success criteria for safe schools was developed. This provides an evidence base for the development of policies and practices that support schools in providing a safe learning environment for their students. Key criteria (extrapolated from the research literature) are presented in Table 5 below.

Table 5: Success criteria and indicators of safe schools

Bullying is approached as a community problem rather than an individual behaviour problem

  • Acknowledgement that bullying happens.
  • Recognition that bullying is unacceptable behaviour.
  • Parental awareness and involvement.
  • Bullying is viewed as a social practice rather than a behavioural practice.
  • Strategies address the school and community culture.

Whole school approach

  • Whole school philosophy and ethos underpins the specific culture of the school.
  • A clear vision of a safe and violence-free school community is strongly articulated and people know how to contribute to make this vision happen.
  • Anti-violence/bullying policies have been developed that are commonly understood by staff, pupils, board of trustees, and the wider school community.
  • A whole of school community approach was undertaken in the policy development.
  • Commitment and input was gained from the whole school (i.e., students, teachers, parents, local community, and education authorities).
  • Policies and procedures are applied consistently throughout the whole school.
  • Teachers follow clear guidelines and procedures when reporting incidents.
  • Educational programmes reinforce the whole school approach, thus providing “tools for the toolkit”.

Culture of “safe telling”

  • Students are encouraged to disclose abuse, violence, and bullying.
  • A confidential reporting system facilitates disclosure.
  • Two-way communication between home and school is encouraged (i.e., schools act on
    parents’ complaints about bullying and report incidents to parents of the children involved).
  • Bystanders are empowered to intervene and report incidents witnessed by them.
  • A climate has been created so that when victims or witnesses of violence or bullying do speak up, they know they will be listened to.
  • Teachers take seriously all incidents reported to them and respond appropriately.
  • Restorative conferences help victims to be heard and contribute to the healing of relationships.
  • Incidents are further reported when appropriate (e.g., text- or cyber-bullying is reported to the network or mobile phone provider).
  • Peer mediation programmes support the safe telling culture of the school.
  • Incidents are reported to outside agencies (e.g., Police, Child, Youth and Family) when the need arises.

Peer, family, and teacher support

  • Families and friends of bullies support them but refuse to condone their actions.
  • Bullies are helped to interact positively with others.
  • Victims of bullying are supported.
  • Victims are helped to understand that bullying is not the victim’s fault.

School climate/ethos

  • The school is a place conducive to learning.
  • An orderly and safe climate encourages learning and teaching.
  • A positive school environment keeps bullying and harassment from flourishing.
  • Students enjoy warm, caring, positive relationships with their teachers.
  • Teachers apply firm, clear, consistent limits to unacceptable behaviour with non-hostile, non-physical sanctions.
  • Teachers provide active monitoring and supervision.
  • Staff-to-student interactions do not insinuate messages about the acceptance or rejection of particular students.
  • Students learn new skills in settings where it is safe to practise them.
  • Students’ “connectedness” to school reflects their involvement in relationships, contexts, and activities they find worthwhile and important.
  • The school provides emotional safety that comes from an environment that is structured, predictable, mutually respectful of all individuals, and free from any harmful activity or comment.
  • Teachers model the attitudes and values they teach and practise respectful teaching
  • There is school and community cooperation.
  • Interaction and cooperation by students and school personnel is demonstrated.

Procedures to identify the nature and extent of bullying

  • School self-reviews are regularly undertaken.
  • Student surveys are conducted.
  • A confidential reporting system works effectively.

Effective leadership

  • Principals practise collaborative styles of working, which set a school tone that facilitates the development of a whole school anti-bullying philosophy.
  • School leaders facilitate the changing of the school’s culture.
  • Professional development for teachers is provided.

Anti-violence/bullying strategies

  • School wide anti-bullying policies.
  • Systematic school wide intervention approaches.
  • Effective responses to reported incidents.
  • Tougher sanctions against bullying.
  • Counselling for students.
  • Involvement of students.
  • Tackle violence and bullying through the school curriculum.

Last Updated (Wednesday, 14 May 2014 16:03)