Positive School Climate

 There is a culture of high expectations which emphasizes the improvement of learning outcomes for all students.

  • Healthy and respectful relationships are promoted among all members of the school community.
  • Students are encouraged to be leaders and positive role models in their school; for example, to speak up about issues such as bullying.
  • Parents and community members are actively engaged.
  • Positive behaviour is reinforced, and students are given opportunities to develop relationships that are free from racism, discrimination and harassing behaviour.
  • Schools ensure that all cultures are respected and valued, and as a result, students, parents and staff feel safe, comfortable and accepted.

Whole School Approach

What is a Whole School Approach?

A positive learning and teaching environment is essential if students are to succeed in school. Research shows:

That there is a direct link between students’ success and the school environment in which learning takes place (Jaffe, 2010).

An effective school is more than achieving academic markers; it involves the development of relationships among staff, among students, and between staff and students to promote a safe environment and a positive school climate (Jaffe, 2010).

Building and sustaining a positive and inclusive school culture is a complex challenge and requires complex solutions. Schools alone cannot end bullying (Pepler, 2011).

A whole school approach involving all education and community partners is an important step to bring about the necessary systemic changes. Canadian and international research calls for the adoption of safe schools policies and safe schools initiatives (Fox et al, 2003; Olweus, 1993; Pepler & Craig, 2004).

It is important to engage all key learning areas, all grades and the wider community. All aspects of school life are included in a whole school approach, such as curriculum, culture, teaching practices, policies and procedures.

To bring about a cultural change in schools, it is necessary that adults in the school, and the wider community, develop awareness and understanding of behaviour issues in their school. Believe that students need to be equipped with the knowledge, skills, attitude and values to engage the world and others critically, which means developing a critical consciousness that allows them to take action on making their schools and communities more equitable and inclusive for all people.

A whole-school approach is required, and that everyone — administrators, school staff, parents, students and the wider community — has a role to play in creating a positive school climate

Keys to Implementation –Leadership and Evidence

Leadership is essential in establishing a vision, policies, and procedures that promote a positive school culture to prevent bullying and violence. Moreover, it is the principals’ leadership that is essential to establishing a foundation of collaboration across the groups within the school community (Jaffe, 2010).

A pre and post evaluation strategy is critical. The pre phase creates a baseline and identifies areas of concern and gaps in service. The purpose of post evaluation is to gather evidence to test the efficacy of the intervention.

Common Elements

Implementation of the whole-school approach needs to occur at four levels; school, class, individual and community (Olweus & Limber, 2010; Steinberg, Allensworth & Johnson, 2011).

School policies/procedures, views and attitudes toward student behaviour must be consistent regardless of the individual involved or the context.

Although activities are different at the various levels, there are common overlapping themes of prevention, intervention (response and support) that occur at all the levels.  At each level;

  • Roles and responsibilities must be identified;
  • Staff, student, parent and community engagement is critical.
  • A pre and post evaluation strategy. The SCIS School Climate Survey’s are useful tools.

Components

According to research (Eslea & Smith 1998; Olweus & Limber, 2010), the following types of activities should occur within each component:

School level:

  • Establish a coordinating committee (e.g. a Safe, Caring and Inclusive Schools Team as referenced in Policy and Program Memorandum 144.)
  • Conduct a pre and post evaluation
  • Provide committee and staff training.
  • Establish school rules regarding behaviour, prevention and support.
  • Review and refine the school’s supervision plan, which should identify “hotspots” or those areas difficult to supervise.
  • Involve parents and community.

Classroom Level:

  • Communicate and enforce school-wide rules on behaviour.
  • Hold regular class meetings, hold meetings with students’ parents.
  • Learn and practice prevention and intervention strategies that address behaviour concerns.

Individual Level:

  • Supervise students’ activities.
  • Hold meetings with students and their parents when misbehaviour occurs.
  • Develop individual intervention plans for students involved in serious incidents.

Community Level:

  • Involvement of community members in the policy development process.
  • Development of school-community partnership to support school’s program.
  • Communicate the school’s Code of Conduct and expectations on appropriate behaviour to the school community.

 

REFERENCES

Allen, K.P. (2011). A bullying intervention system in high school: A two-year school-wide follow-up. Studies in Educational Evaluation.
Eslea, M. & Smith, P. K. (1998). “The Long-Term Effectiveness of Anti-Bullying Work in Primary Schools”. Educational Research, 40(2): 203-218.
Jaffe, P.G, Crooks, C.V., Watson, C. (2010). Creating Safe School Environments: From Small Steps to Sustainable Change. The University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada.
Olweus, D. & Limber, S.P. (2010). Bullying in school: Evaluation and dissemination of the Olweus bullying prevention program. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 80(1), 124–134
Pepler, D., Craig, W., O’Connell, P., Atlas, R. & Charach, A. (2004). “Making a Difference in Bullying: Evaluation of a Systemic School-Based Programme in Canada”. In Peter Smith, Debra Pepler and Ken Rigby (Eds.) Bullying in Schools: How Successful Can Interventions Be?United Kingdom: University Press, pp. 125-139.
Salmivalli, C., Kärnä, A., & Poskiparta, E. (2010). Development, evaluation, and diffusion of a national anti-bullying program, KiVa. In B. Doll, W.
Steinberg, M.P., Allensworth, E. & Johnson, D.W. (2011). Student and teachers safety in Chicago public schools: The roles of community context and school social organization. Consortium on Chicago School Research at the University of Chicago Urban Education Institute.