Tiers of support


​​The Positive Behaviour for Learning (PBL) framework supports schools to improve social, emotional, behavioural and academic outcomes for students. Schools can use it to:

  • analyse and improve behaviour and learning outcomes
  • select evidence-based practices for student support and intervention
  • provide support to staff members in maintaining consistent and proactive school-wide and classroom systems and practices.

PBL provides a model of support for all students, consisting of 3 tiers of intervention. The tiers represent levels of intervention. They do not represent students and that language should never be used to describe a student, e.g. 'a red zone student'.

'Universal' supports

Tier 1 'differentiated and explicit teaching for all students', or school-wide interventions, are the critical foundation for PBL. Interventions are at the whole-school level and are provided to all students across academic, emotional and behaviour dimensions of learning.

The focus of Tier 1 intervention is on all students and staff across all settings—whole-school, classroom and non-classroom.

Examples of Tier 1 supports include:

  • explicit teaching of behavioural expectations and social-emotional competencies
  • clear boundaries in place
  • high rates of acknowledgement for expected behaviours
  • effective instruction
  • active supervision.

Tiers of support image

Prevention and de-escalation of risk behaviour

So far as possible, staff adopt preventative strategies to prevent behaviour escalating. When specific behavioural risk has been identified, evidence-based, positive, proactive and preventive strategies are used. A student behaviour support plan accounts for the specific needs of the student and details the rationale and specific strategies for use. In emergency situations, it is important to consider the factors impacting that student.

De-escalation involves using the right strategy, at the right time, for the right student. What works for one student may not work for another. Strategies that school staff might employ include:

  • Acknowledging the student: staff validate the student’s emotions, confirm to them that it is legitimate to feel upset, angry, exhausted or betrayed.
  • Agree with the student: if it is possible to do so. Staff try to find some truth in what is being said or expressed by the student. This reduces the conflict and can assist in being solution-focused, preventing escalation. Once the conflict is over and the immediate risk has been managed, it is possible to find time to explore the situation as a whole.
  • Clarifying: if a student is very upset, it can be difficult for them to express what they are saying meaningfully. Using statements to help clarify meaning, rather than assuming what the student means can help staff in de-escalating situations.
  • Offering choices, options and boundaries: this means defining what the options are and identifying the possible natural consequences for the student, dependent on the decisions they make.
  • Distracting the student: for example, staff might change the topic, make a noise, deliberately drop some books or ask a question about something of interest to the student. Distraction can be a very effective short term solution for preventing escalation of a situation.


Fact sheet: prevention and de-escalation of risk behaviour (PDF, 246KB)

Fact sheets: crisis management (PDF, 786KB)

Individual behaviour support plan: standard template 1 (PDF, 904KB)

Individual behaviour support plan: completed example 1 (PDF, 505KB)

Individual behaviour support plan: template 2 with prompts (PDF, 1.3MB)

Individual behaviour support plan: completed example 2 (PDF, 497KB)

Last updated 11 January 2022