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Positive Behaviour for Learning

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​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Positive Behaviour for Learning (PBL) is a whole-school framework that promotes positive behaviour across a school and helps schools develop safe and supportive learning environments.​

Schools which implement the PBL framework make sure all students are explicitly taught the expected behaviours and establish clear and consistent boundaries. Staff take a proactive, preventative approach to ensure all students receive the appropriate level of support to help them to be successful at school. Student outcomes are monitored so identified students can receive additional support when needed, and a minority of students can access intensive support to enable them to engage successfully at school.

PBL State Regi​ster

A verification process to recognise schools meeting PBL baseline implementation standards is conducted annually. Evidence is clear that PBL must be implemented with fidelity in order for students and staff to benefit. Verification seeks to improve the quality of the implementation process and to ensure the achievement of desired outcomes reported in research, such as improved safety, student engagement and staff satisfaction.

Schools meeting baseline PBL implementation standards receive ongoing professional development and support from a Principal Advisor PBL (PA-PBL) and are listed on the PBL State Register. Schools undertaking initial PBL training will be listed on the register in the year following training.

The PBL verification process supports schools to successfully implement PBL long term by evaluating the following key implementation components:

School prio​​rity

This relates to the extent to which school leadership and staff prioritise PBL implementation. This includes PBL being part of the school improvement plan and ensuring that the PBL framework is used to align and integrate initiatives.

Team use o​f data

Effective use of data for decision-making and action planning underpins school improvement. The PBL team ensures that accurate data is recorded, summarised and analysed in order to target support and interventions. Data is also shared with staff and the community on a regular basis.

Region​al support

PBL progress and outcomes should form part of regular discussions with principal supervisors and regional services. Support for PBL implementation is available from regional PAs-PBL.

Capacity buildi​ng

Building staff capability in implementation of positive behaviour support is an ongoing process. Coach network meetings are important professional learning opportunities for internal PBL coaches and team leaders. Regions also develop a PBL professional development calendar covering all aspects of PBL implementation. School PBL teams should schedule annual PBL induction or refresher PD and take up opportunities to network with other schools to share best practice.

More infor​​mation

PBL and student wellbeing

The explicit and systematic teaching of social-emotional learning (SEL) competencies to students has been shown to decrease emotional distress and behavioural problems and increase academic scores. SEL helps students manage emotions, set goals, get along with others and make responsible decisions.

The PBL framework provides the ideal vehicle for teaching identified SEL competencies. Schools teaching SEL within a prevention-focused continuum of supports, such as PBL, have reported reduced rates of bullying, increased sense of school safety, improvements in students’ emotional regulation and greater staff and student wellbeing.

Trauma-informed practices

The PBL framework supports schools to become trauma-informed by increasing awareness of the effects of trauma on students’ learning, wellbeing and behaviour, including attendance, engagement, relationships with others, academic achievement and behaviour. This awareness includes being mindful of avoiding re-traumatisation and looking beyond the immediate or ‘surface’ behaviours.

Schools using a trauma-informed approach provide universal support to all students and are sensitive to individual needs, addressing student needs holistically and working in partnership with caregivers and agencies to provide evidence-based interventions for students who are experiencing difficulties associated with complex trauma.

PBL helps schools to develop safe, positive, consistent and predictable environments, which are foundational to a trauma-informed approach. Challenges in relation to behaviour, mental health, academic success and social issues are best addressed using an integrated approach focused on the whole child.

Research shows that many students have experienced or are still experiencing early trauma. The high prevalence of trauma underlines the importance of a whole-school approach, which assumes that all students will benefit from support, taking into consideration emotional, academic and behavioural responses. In addition, an awareness amongst all staff of the prevalence and effects of trauma, and the importance of a positive school environment, is the foundation for effective trauma-informed support.

Fact sheet: PBL and trauma-informed practices​

PBL and restorative practices

PBL provides a framework for schools to nurture students by providing them with meaningful opportunities for improving social and emotional skills, such as recognising and managing emotions, developing caring and concern for others, making responsible decisions, establishing positive relationships and handling challenging situations in a constructive way.

In PBL schools, principals, school leaders and staff members work together to establish and maintain a positive school climate. All adults communicate, teach, and model the positive behaviours they expect students to exhibit in the classroom and school throughout the day. By setting expectations, teaching students to meet those expectations and regularly reinforcing appropriate behaviours, schools see fewer incidents of inappropriate behaviour and more time spent on teaching and learning.

PBL uses restorative practices such as correcting behaviour calmly and in a manner that demonstrates that the student is safe and supported at school, viewing inappropriate behaviour as an instructional opportunity and using consequences that promote student self-reflection.

Fact sheet: PBL and restorative practices

PBL and bullying prevention

PBL is based on the belief that all students should have access to the supports needed to prevent the development and continued use of problem behaviours, including bullying. PBL places emphasis on the behaviour rather than the student, therefore, labels such as “bully” or “victim” are considered unhelpful, with the focus instead directed towards describing behaviour specifically and in relation to the setting in which it occurs (for example, “name calling in the playground before school”).

PBL takes a school-wide approach to bully prevention by teaching:

  • what bullying looks like
  • what to do before and when bullying behaviour is seen
  • how to teach others what to do
  • how to reduce the effectiveness of bullying through establishment of a positive school environment.
Research shows that investing in the following proactive activities leads to improvements in positive school environments:
  1. A school-wide approach to teaching the social skills needed for success at school.
  2. An emphasis on teaching and learning within a positive school and classroom culture.
  3. Delivery of quality instruction to maximise academic success for all students.
  4. Monitoring of student learning and behaviour through continuous active supervision.
  5. High rates of positive acknowledgement for academic and social success.
  6. Engagement of all staff, students, parents and the wider community.
  7. Multi-year and multi-component approaches to implementation.
  8. Modelling of positive social behaviour and values by adults.

Fact sheet: PBL and bullying prevention

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Last updated 10 November 2023