Caring School

This module offers suggestions about ways school-wide practices and activities can model values such as caring (aroha), respect, and hospitality (manaakitanga).

Focus questions
  1. Did the “Caring school” sub-aspect data suggest any next step for your school?
  2. Do you have other school data about this area of school practice? What does this tell you?

Key ideas about developing a caring school climate at a school-wide level

A positive school climate is associated with improved academic and social outcomes for students, and an improved environment for staff. This climate is based on a foundation of positive and caring relationships among students, school staff, parents, and whānau. A caring school community reflects values such as hospitality and respect (manaakitanga), caring (aroha), and fairness and tolerance (rangimārie)

Key ideas about building students’ social competence and prosocial strategies (at a school-wide level)

Effective schools and educators focus on students’ holistic wellbeing (such as social outcomes) as well as their learning and achievement. An explicit focus on, and teaching of, social and emotional competencies can result in improved outcomes for students that range from social to academic (e.g., improved ability to relate well to others and resolve conflicts, improved achievement).

Approaches to building students' social and emotional competencies are best targeted at all students rather than small groups.

Students’ competencies can be fostered through planned school-wide approaches as well as in the classroom (See the Teaching and learning module Caring learning, for ways of working in classrooms and through the curriculum programme).

Reflective question(s)
  1. To what extent do we have a shared vision of what we want our school culture to look like, sound like, and feel like? Do we know how to get there?
  2. To what extent do we have a school-wide plan to build students’ social competencies and skills in relating to others as well as their academic skills?


Ways of working (at a school-wide level)

Further developing a caring school climate:

  • Reviewing school practices to ensure new students, their parents and whānau, and staff are welcomed and supported.
  • Defining a set of 3-5 key values and related behaviour expectations in collaboration with staff, students, parents and whānau.**
  • Recognising and providing feedback to students who demonstrate the key school values and behaviour expectations, e.g., through feedback and praise.**
  • Providing ongoing professional learning for staff to support them to model caring and respectful interactions and use school-wide strategies when dialoguing with students (e.g., promoting practices such as “…we use put ups, not put downs”). See also the Teaching and learning modules: Caring teaching and Caring learning.


Proactively building students’ social competence and strategies:

  • Developing a shared view of the learner attributes your school aims to promote and how these relate to school values in collaboration with staff, students, parents and whānau (e.g., social competencies, learning to learn competencies, as well as academic attributes).
  • Promoting a school-wide focus on democratic processes and dialogue with students that enables their input into school practices.
  • Including key competencies and social goals in student goal setting approaches.
  • Developing a school-wide plan for building students’ leadership skills (e.g., see the Valuing student leadership module and The importance of building a safe and caring school
  • Developing a school-wide plan that outlines how the curriculum programme, external providers, and school-wide strategies will be used to build students’ social competence, self-esteem, and strategies for resilience.
  • Reviewing curriculum content across the school to ensure classroom programmes include a focus on the explicit teaching of developmentally-appropriate prosocial (helping and caring) skills and social competencies such as emotional regulation. See also the Teaching and learning modules: Caring teaching and Caring learning.


** denotes PB4L School-wide core practice. Core practices are more effective if they are implemented together.