HOW DO WE ESTABLISH A SCHOOL TEAM?

 

When is a good time to begin bullying prevention?

All schools, across all years, should address bullying. However, interventions at the primary school level are particularly important for these reasons:

  • In general, younger children are bullied more often than older children.
  • At this age, children are more supportive of those who are bullied.
  • Children are most amenable to discussing bullying at ages 10 and 11.

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What is the role of the Friendly Schools school team?

A school coordinating team is a collaborative group made up of potential agents of change. It should include members representative of the whole-school community, including staff, parents and students. The role of the coordinating team is to facilitate the implementation process using evidence-based recommendations from Friendly Schools, including the development of a bullying policy that promotes safe and supportive learning environments for all members of the school community. To be successful, school teams must have common goals, defined roles, consistent membership and communications methods that involve, document and pass on information to the whole-school community.

The school team:

  • represents and acts on behalf of the whole school community
  • makes recommendations based on their school’s needs about the content and process of developing, reviewing, implementing and promoting the policy and key messages
  • works with the school community to establish consistent school responses to incidents of bullying
  • develops and circulates drafts of the bullying policy
  • prepares the final policy and organises its promotion, dissemination and implementation
  • facilitates the implementation of other strategies to reduce bullying within the school
  • reflects upon and reviews action in the school to reduce bullying

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Who should be involved in our school team?

A school coordinating team should comprise a group of individuals who represent the whole-school community, including any or all of the following:

  • school leaders
  • teachers
  • student representatives
  • parent and family representatives
  • student services and behaviour management staff
  • school counsellors
  • school nurses
  • school chaplains

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What does the team coordinator do?

The Friendly Schools school team coordinator (or, in some cases, coordinators) is elected by the school team to act as a facilitator and motivator for the initiative. The coordinator maintains the momentum of the Friendly Schools team throughout the implementation of planned actions.

The position of school team coordinator involves many different and important roles. These are listed here in the approximate order in which they arise:

  • Initially, you will need to be a motivator for change in order to get school and community members to buy in to the need for the initiative.
  • You will then need to be an advocate for the initiative in order to encourage school and community members to join your Friendly Schools team and get staff to commit to the implementation.
  • Next, you will need to be a collaborator with that team to identify priorities and select strategies for change and improvement.
  • As you begin implementing Friendly Schools, you will need to be a resource manager to ensure that faculty and staff are adequately trained and have the materials they need to do a quality job.
  • To ensure the sustainability of the improvements, you and your team will need to be supporters of the implementation process and of the school-community members involved.
  • The longer an initiative is in place, the more it will have to be adapted to changing circumstances. You will act as a progress monitor to ensure that change is ongoing and the initiative’s outcomes are regularly evaluated.

Motivator for change

In this role, the coordinator will:

  • demonstrate the need for prevention in your school by providing current evidence-based information
  • organise a presentation of the current research and evidence-based strategies to address the school’s needs
  • inspire and guide the school community members to create a shared vision for prevention for which everyone takes ownership
  • make sure that prevention efforts stay on track

Advocate for the initiative

In this role, the coordinator will:

  • build positive relationships with administration and staff to develop commitment before implementing the initiative
  • facilitate awareness-raising about the progress of the initiative to whole-school community
  • ensure effective communication between the Friendly Schools team and the school’s administration team and welfare staff
  • arrange and lead school team meetings

Collaborator

In this role, the coordinator will:

  • create ongoing partnerships with parents, families and community members, and nurture these relationships throughout initiative planning and implementation
  • guide and support the development and implementation of the strategic plan and the action plan
  • assist with information sharing to parents and families

Resource manager

In this role, the coordinator will:

  • provide ongoing, relevant and quality training and technical assistance to implementers so they can do the best job possible.
  • contribute to professional development planning and delivery for the school.
  • help identify ways to provide other necessary resources, such as funding and additional staff.
  • manage the materials and resources required
  • provide technical expertise on issues relating to the initiative

Supporter

In this role, the coordinator will:

  • communicate with, listen to and collaborate with key whole-school community members about decisions, concerns and progress
  • help keep the school community informed about activities and improvements.
  • support staff to build their capacity to implement new content and ideas
  • act as an advocate for the initiative with new staff and parents

Progress monitor

In this role the coordinator would:

  • establish a system for collecting information about the implementation process
  • monitor Friendly Schools activities that need to be adapted or refined to better meet the changing needs of the community
  • identify successes that you can publicly acknowledge and celebrate

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What does Friendly Schools research say about establishing an effective school team?

  • To ensure that they had the capacity to work together as a team, schools involved in Friendly Schools research found it best to involve: teacher representatives from across the year levels; more than one school leader; parents’ representatives with children across the year levels; and other key members from pastoral care and student services.
  • The size of the team was determined by the size of the school and the availability of representatives. Some schools reported they found it easier to have a smaller core team that met regularly, supplemented by reference groups (such as parent groups, student services teams and school medical personnel) who were called upon when required.
  • Parents reported that they found it easier when there was more than one parent representative in the team. They also preferred it when parents were selected from those who had younger children and were relatively new to the school as well as parents whose children were in their last year.
  • The team needs to be established with the future in mind. Schools participating in the research found that it was useful to have a mentoring process for new parents and staff who may be interested in taking up positions on the team in the future.

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