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By promoting positive, sustainable, whole-school improvement, Friendly Schools helps school communities to build their own capacity for change. It enables schools to assess the social and emotional wellbeing of their students, examine their existing strategies for bullying prevention, identify strengths and areas in need of improvement and then address these gaps using extensively tested strategies. This process is supported by a range of evidence-based resources tested and found to be effective in many different types of Australian schools.

Friendly Schools aims to increase awareness, understanding and use of the key skills to build students’ personal and social capability, including self-awareness and self-management and social awareness and social management to enhance pro-social, and discourage anti-social behaviour. It also focusses on whole school strategies to reduce all forms of bullying including strategies to engage with families, build a positive school climate, develop clear policies that encourage positive social behaviours including encouraging upstander behaviour and also actions the school will take in response to bullying behaviour; enhancing the schools’ physical environment to encourage positive behaviour.

Although school leaders, teachers, students and parents will all find unique benefits when using Friendly Schools to support their school’s wellbeing policies and practices, the central goal of Friendly Schools implementation is to unite the school community to create and maintain a friendly, positive and safe school culture and environment and positive wellbeing outcomes for students and staff.

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Friendly Schools’ implementation outcomes include:

  • Providing all students with opportunities to develop and practise positive social and emotional skills through classroom and co-curricular teaching and learning activities
  • Creating a positive social environment within our schools that actively encourages pro-social behaviour and discourages bullying
  • Enhancing the school grounds and supervision during breaktimes to encourage and enable pro-social behaviour and discourage bullying
  • Encouraging all staff, students and parents to treat all school community members with respect and inclusivity, celebrating difference
  • Implementing a clear and consistent approach to managing anti-social behaviour, especially bullying incidents
  • Providing parents with resources and strategies to help build their children’s social and emotional wellbeing and enhance their communication with their children about bullying

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Bullying is a learned behaviour which means it can be prevented or unlearned. Every person has the right to feel safe, secure, loved, accepted and valued, and the responsibility to take action to ensure others feel the same.

Friendly Schools’ extensive research concurs with other current research that shows a whole-school approach is essential to achieving lasting, positive change to reduce bullying behaviour. The whole-school approach builds awareness at all levels of the school’s community, enabling the development of common goals and a shared understanding. This common understanding forms the basis for the school community to identify, develop and engage in appropriate and consistent strategies to deal with bullying.

A whole-school response:

  • Counters the view that bullying is an inevitable part of school life
  • Moves toward a prevention and promotion approach instead of treatment and crisis-management
  • Creates opportunities at all levels of the school community, helping to instil a supportive ethos and to break down any culture of secrecy surrounding bullying
  • Involves the whole-school community in expressing and reinforcing pro-social behaviour and the unacceptability of bullying behaviour.

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The implementation of Friendly Schools is structured to provide a staged process to not overwhelm busy schools. Each Friendly Schools’ stage builds upon the others in a continuous and iterative manner. The Friendly Schools Implementation Road Map (displayed below) guides schools through the whole school implementation journey, from getting ready to reviewing and sustaining outcomes. It provides a visual representation of the five stages of implementation, divided into a series of 14 steps outlining sequential actions to guide school teams though the process. More information on each individual step is available in the research-based Evidence for Practice Friendly Schools’ resource, which provides a comprehensive guide to the implementation process.

The Friendly Schools Implementation Road Map

To get started on the Friendly Schools journey with guidance from one of our qualified training associates, contact

The Friendly Schools research journey has included 11 large empirical studies conducted since 1999, which focused ways to strengthen whole-school approaches to reduce all forms of bullying (including cyberbullying) from entering primary through to secondary schools. These large research projects (each on average three years long) have reduced bullying victimisation and perpetration behaviour among children and adolescents and raised awareness of the actions peers, families, schools and communities can take to prevent bullying behaviour. This robust research also found that it was not one single ingenious action that made a difference, but the sum of many small whole-school steps.

What is known from the research about making the Friendly Schools work in schools?

  • There must be a commitment on the part of administrators, teachers, support staff, parents and students. It is also extremely important for school leaders to be actively engaged and provide support and encouragement.
  • The Friendly Schools’ approach must engage the whole-school community.
  • The Friendly Schools initiatives are most effective when there is a coordinating group with member representatives from the whole-school community.
  • A coordinator is appointed and this person is allocated time and resources to effectively oversee the coordinating group.
  • Students must be involved purposefully and meaningfully in creating school culture and action to encourage pro-social behaviours.
  • Given most schools have existing policies and practices to address social and emotional development and prevent bullying, schools should begin by reviewing their current policies and practices and defining their next steps for school improvement.
  • The implementation of the Friendly Schools initiative often looks different in each school, as this initiative is designed to fit the unique context of each school.
  • Promoting and sustaining social norms in schools related to pro-social attitudes and a positive school climate takes time, consistency and commitment.
  • Schools need to celebrate and promote their successes as well as work towards improvement.

For more information about the Friendly Schools research please click here.

Evidence for Practice

  • Evidence for Practice is the research-based text that informs the Friendly Schools program.
  • Evidence for Practice describes many ideas and positive actions schools can implement to maximise and sustain effective social and emotional skill-building and bullying-prevention strategies, including ways to prevent and respond to cyberbullying. Evidence for Practice provides schools with examples and processes to review current whole-school action, identify areas for improvement and to engage in activities that will maintain or enhance the existing processes. For schools getting started to address social and emotional development and bullying prevention more comprehensively this book provides guidance for a school coordinating committee to develop and engage in the five stages of implementation described in the Friendly Schools Journey above.

Social Emotional Posters

Help your students create a proactive positive social environment with a set of nine posters. For example one set of posters follows the THINK, PLAN, ACT, DO theme and walks students through different aspects of dealing with anti-social behaviour, such as determining what the behaviour is, developing a plan for dealing with it, understanding who they can talk to about it and what to do if others are being harmed.

School Staff Guide for Cyber Leaders

The Friendly Schools Student Cyber Leader resources is designed to assist schools to establish student leadership program and to skill young people to become leaders in their school to reduce cyberbullying and other cyber-related harms. The resource helps to enhance a school’s ethos and environment to enable students to feel empowered to use technology in positive ways. to the resource also help schools to train student cyber leaders and to provide innovative ideas to staff who work with these students. This resource is designed to be used in conjunction with other modules in the CyberStrong Schools website and the Cyber Leaders’ Student Handbook. Topics include:

  • Supporting student leadership
  • Pre-planning
  • Team Selection
  • Preparation
  • Activities
  • Support strategies

Classroom resources

Friendly Schools provides evidence-based classroom teaching and learning resources to enhance social and emotional learning and to reduce bullying. These resources provide for each year group from school entry to Year 9.

The classroom resources use a strengths-based approach and are designed to improve students’ social and emotional development and reduce bullying behaviour and achieve the vision and elements of the Australian Student Wellbeing Framework.

Early Years (4 Year Olds)

This classroom resource for Early Years students (4 year olds) address the following areas of students’ social and emotional development:

  • Happy, sad, scary and angry feelings
  • Dealing with social mistakes
  • Using manners
  • Sharing and taking turns
  • Sorting out a problem

Foundation (5 Year Olds)

This classroom resource for Foundation students (5 year olds) address the following areas of students’ social and emotional development:

  • Feelings and emotions
  • Making choices
  • Asking for help
  • Caring, sharing & friendship
  • Including others

Year 1 (6 Year Olds)

This classroom resource for Year 1 students (6 year olds) address the following areas of students’ social and emotional development:

  • Experiencing and responding to different feelings
  • Feeling left out and lonely
  • Being thoughtful, caring and polite
  • Using friendly behaviours to make friends
  • Working cooperatively

Year 2 (7 Year Olds)

This classroom resource for Year 2 students (7 year olds) address the following areas of students’ social and emotional development:

  • Diversity of my world
  • Seeing the bright side
  • Responding to feelings of frustration and anger
  • Meeting new people
  • When friendships make you feel blue

Year 3 (8 Year Olds)

This classroom resource for Year 3 students (8 year olds) address the following areas of students’ social and emotional development:

  • Self-esteem
  • Physical and emotional health
  • Positive thinking
  • Bullying behaviours
  • Choices and consequences

Year 4 (9 Year Olds)

This classroom resource for Year 4 students (9 year olds) address the following areas of students’ social and emotional development:

  • Exploring my values
  • Resolving conflict
  • Equality and exclusion in groups
  • Solving social problems

Year 5 (10 Year Olds)

This classroom resource for Year 5 students (10 year olds) address the following areas of students’ social and emotional development:

  • Understanding emotional responses and human needs
  • Being responsible
  • Reducing types of bullying
  • Sharing and taking turns
  • Cool friend, good friend

Year 6 (11 Year Olds)

This classroom resource for Year 6 students (11 year olds) address the following areas of students’ social and emotional development:

  • Getting what we want
  • Challenging myself
  • Making it happen
  • Responding to peer pressure
  • Bystanders to bullying

Year 7 (12 Year Olds)

This classroom resource for Year 7 students (12 year olds) address the following areas of students’ social and emotional development:

  • Letting go and hanging on
  • Trying new friendships
  • Choices and consequences
  • The moral compass

Year 8 (13 Year Olds)

This classroom resource for Year 8 students (13 year olds) address the following areas of students’ social and emotional development:

  • Responding to bullying
  • Bystanders to bullying
  • Your digital footprint
  • Cyber etiquette
  • Managing my mobile

Year 9 (14 Year Olds)

This classroom resource for Year 9 students (14 year olds) address the following areas of students’ social and emotional development:

  • Mapping my life online
  • Communication technology and bullying
  • The law’s claw
  • Engaging in cyberspace – the 4 Cs

Please email for further information.


Friendly Schools Plus


Six components of the Friendly School initiative