Image 2.1The Friendly Schools initiative brings together the whole-school community to contribute to the development and ongoing maintenance of a friendly and safe school culture. Friendly Schools support schools to identify and successfully implement evidence-based whole-school recommendations in order to enhance students’ social and emotional learning and reduce bullying in schools.

Why does Friendly Schools take a whole-school approach?

Research shows that multi-component initiatives involving the whole-school community are more likely to reduce bullying behaviour than single-component programs, such as those involving only classroom curriculum. A whole-school approach recognises that all aspects of the school community can impact upon students’ health and wellbeing, and that learning and wellbeing are inextricably linked. Given that young people spend much of their first 17 years
in a school environment, school is not only the focal point of children’s academic development, but also their social and emotional development, since it is where they make friends and develop healthy relationships.

Friendly Schools recognises the importance of a whole-school approach and is organised to provide support to schools, not only in terms of formal classroom teaching and learning, but throughout all aspects of the whole-school environment. To achieve sustainable behaviour change that is integrated, holistic and strategic, it is necessary to implement a whole-school approach rather than focus only on individual behaviour.

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What are the six whole-school components?

To assist school-based leadership teams to implement evidence-based key elements for action, Friendly Schools has identified six interrelated components that are foundational to positive whole-school change.

Component 1: Building capacity

Component 2: Supportive school culture

Component 3: Proactive policies and practices

Component 4: Key understandings and competencies

Component 5: Protective physical environment

Component 6: School–family–community partnerships

In order to be effective in practice, it is essential to attend to all whole-school components in a coordinated manner, so that action in one component effects positive change in other components. However, it is also important to remember that such integration takes time and determination, so it can only be achieved through a well-planned approach that is effective and sustainable.

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Where can I learn more about the six whole-school components?

To find out more about the components of the Friendly Schools initiative, view the Friendly Schools Plus Evidence for Practice resource. In addition to summarising the research that supports the Friendly Schools approach, each chapter of Evidence for Practice that deals with a single component contains the following aspects:

Key elements

Each whole-school component chapter identifies the key elements found in evidence-based research to be priority elements for action in that particular component.

Strategies for good practice

Each key element identified is followed by a detailed set of strategies for good practice and an explanation of supporting evidence to assist teams in the development and implementation of each key element.

Whole-school toolkits

Where there is more information and other resources to further support development and implementation of a whole-school component, toolkits are provided. Due to the integrated nature of the whole-school areas, in some cases toolkits from other components may be recommended to support a particular priority.

Planning tool for each key area

The planning tool is designed for teams to record their planning for future action in each key area.

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