Safe policies

This module offers suggestions about ways schools can develop well-understood policies and procedures for managing behaviour and addressing behaviour incidents. 

Focus questions
  1. Did the “Safe policies sub-aspect data suggest any next steps 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 safe policies and procedures

Engaging in a collaborative process, with staff, students, parents and whānau, to develop school policies about behaviour is one important first step in raising awareness about different types of behaviours and developing shared understandings and a language to talk about behaviour

What are the expectations of schools?
National Administration Guideline 5 of the Education Act (1989) states that Each Board of Trustees is required to:

  1. provide a safe physical and emotional environment for students;
  2. comply in full with any legislation currently in force or that may be developed to ensure the safety of students and employees.
Reflective question(s)
  1. To what extent are our policies and procedures relating to behaviour clearly understood by students, staff, parents and whānau?
  2. Are our policies and procedures relating to behaviour used consistently and fairly with all students?


Ways of working could include

Improving policies and procedure through working collaboratively with students, staff, parents and whānau

  • Considering what schools are required to do by law (e.g., NAGs, Health and Safety legislation) and Human Rights’ perspectives on aggression in schools (e.g., Human Rights Commission, 2009)
  • Developing a shared vision for a caring and safe school and reviewing behaviour and safety policies and procedures so that they are consistent with this vision.
  • Defining different types of unacceptable behaviour (e.g., harassment, assault, or bullying), what constitutes minor, major, and crisis situations, and what systems and practices are in place to address these situations.**
  • Defining what responsible and safe internet use looks like both in and outside of school (e.g., see Netsafe).


Safe reporting

  • Ensuring there is a process for safe reporting for students, and that concerns are addressed (e.g., an anonymous box, or a system for students to access pastoral care staff).
  • Ensuring staff guidelines about workplace harassment and bullying are well-known and up-to-date.


Sharing information

  • Ensuring policies and procedures are widely shared and are in an easy-to-read format for students, parents and whānau.
  • Providing training for all staff to ensure any new procedures are consistently implemented.


Setting goals and monitoring change

  • Developing goals for improving school approaches that can be included in a school charter and Planning and Reporting process (See W@S planning template [doc].)
  • Tracking school data to look for patterns and trends over time (e.g., W@S data; engagement, attendance, or detention data; data about behaviour incidents and their origin and location; or reasons for suspensions, stand downs, exclusions, or expulsions).**


**denotes PB4L-School-wide core practice