School Wide Positive Behaviour aims to create a positive school climate, a culture of student competence and an open, responsive management system for school leaders, staff students and parents/carers (Sugai and Horner 2002). SWPBS includes intervention practices and organisational systems for establishing positive school cultures, learning and teaching environments and the individual behaviour supports needed to achieve academic and social success for all students.
“Social competence and academic achievement…are closely linked. Through our improved climate we expect to and are seeing great improvements in literacy and numeracy learning. Good behaviour enables learning to take place, while problem behaviour disrupts the teaching and learning process” (DEECD 2011).
SWPBS aligns with Department of Education and Early Childhood Development policy including Effective Schools are Engaging Schools: Student Engagement Guidelines and the Building Respectful and Safe Schools resource.
The key objectives of the SWPBS initiative in Victoria are to build and maintain:
- safe, inclusive, highly predictable and orderly learning environments
- positive school and classroom learning environments as platforms for improved engagement, wellbeing and learning outcomes for all students
- the capacity of school leadership teams, teachers and school support personnel (including Student Support Services) to address identified barriers to learning for children and young people
- the establishment of systems for effective use of data for decision making at the school-wide, classroom and individual student level
- School-wide systems for early identification and intervention for students at risk of disengagement from learning.
The SWPBS pilot project was conducted in 20 schools across three Victorian regions, South West Victoria North East Victoria and South East Victoria, in 2008 – 2011. SWPBS has also been successfully implemented across other Australian jurisdictions including Tasmania, New South Wales and Queensland.
An intensive independent evaluation of the SWPBS pilot project was conducted by the Centre for Program Evaluation at the University of Melbourne over a two year period.
The evaluation shows that the outcomes of the SWPBS pilot project include:
- a calmer and more constructive school environment
- improved student social skills overall as a result of a common approach to managing student behaviour
- enhanced staff to student respect and positive relationships, underpinned by improved staff awareness and attitudes towards student wellbeing concerns, and the adoption of new strategies to manage anti-social student behaviour
- improved staff morale, confidence and teamwork
- improved student understanding about the type of behaviour that is required and increased motivation to behave appropriately in various contexts
- overall decrease in the incidence of extreme negative student behaviour, with many schools reporting the de-escalation of critical incidents and reduced office discipline referrals
- improved learning environments with flow on benefits for student learning (University of Melbourne, 2011).