The Child Health Promotion Research Centre (CHPRC) at Edith Cowan University has been at the forefront of international research to build successful evidence-based bullying prevention strategies for schools and their students. After 13 years of research in Australian schools the CHPRC is proud to release Friendly Schools Plus. This resource, recognised nationally and internationally as a successful whole-school evidence-based bullying prevention program, will help schools to respond effectively to the social behaviour, strengths and needs of its students while supporting schools to review, plan, build capacity and implement critical evidence-based actions to effectively respond to these strengths and needs.
The Friendly Schools Plus resource is based on 11 major research projects conducted by the CHPRC since 1999 involving more than 27,000 Australian school-age students from pre-primary to Year 10 and their parents and teachers. This research has focused critically on understanding student bullying behaviour and seeking locally relevant and practical outcomes, while informing national and international policy and practices. Friendly Schools Plus is recognised as one of the few evidence-based programs that has been rigorously evaluated and found to improve young people’s social skills and to reduce bullying behaviour.
In 1999, a formative research project that aimed to develop and comprehensively evaluate a set of evidence-based Principles for Success and exemplar case studies, guided the development of a whole-school approach to reduce bullying. A three year (2000-2002) intervention research project, Friendly Schools (FS), was then implemented in 29 randomly selected Perth metropolitan primary schools to evaluate the best whole-school strategies to reducing bullying. Using the results from the FS Project, a second more targeted program which included a stronger focus on capacity building and involving families was developed. This three year (2002-2004) research project, known as Friendly Schools Friendly Families (FSFF), involved 20 randomly selected Perth primary schools and led to the publication of the first Friendly Schools and Families resource in 2004 which has been implemented by schools across Australia and internationally. Since 2004, the CHRPC has continued to develop and test evidence-based strategies to improve social skills and reduce bullying in secondary schools, in indigenous populations and also to address new types of bullying such as covert and cyberbullying. Evidence from research projects conducted from 2004 to 2012 has been incorporated into Friendly Schools Plus. Current and future research projects will continue to inform Friendly Schools Plus.
The seven-step implementation plan for Friendly Schools Plus is a strengths-based, whole-school participatory process that enables schools to implement current and robust evidence-based policy and practice to enhance social and emotional learning and reduce bullying among school students in accordance with the needs of the school. In particular, Friendly Schools Plus provides toolkits to assess and augment school staff capacity to recognise, develop and sustain those components of a whole-school approach that support their students’ unique social and emotional learning and foster the prevention of bullying behaviour.
The Friendly Schools Plus resource also addresses evidence suggesting that the development of the five key areas of Social and Emotional Learning: Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, Relationship Skills and Social Decision-Making, can help protect young people from the harmful effects of bullying as well as help them to build positive peer relationships.
The Friendly Schools Plus resource has clear links to the Personal and Social Capabilities within the Australian Curriculum as well as the nine elements of the National Safe Schools Framework.For more information, visit the Friendly Schools Plus website.