Approaches to improving positive relationships and behaviour
A whole school approach to positive relationships and behaviour is the most effective way of supporting wellbeing for children and young people. This is supported by a wealth of evidence that links culture and ethos with wellbeing as well as attainment.
The Scottish Government, in partnership with local authorities, Education Scotland and other agencies, has invested significantly in a wide range of approaches which focus on improving positive relationships and behaviour and promoting community safety.
There are a range of strategies and programmes which schools can and do use to improve relationships and behaviour and prevent the need for exclusion. These include the use of behaviour support teams; the development of whole school solution oriented approaches, restorative approaches and nurture approaches; and programmes to help develop social, emotional and behavioural skills.
In addition to these targeted strategies and programmes, health and wellbeing is now a curricular area in its own right within Curriculum for Excellence. Learning in health and wellbeing ensures that pupils develop the knowledge and understanding, skills, capabilities and attributes they need for mental, emotional, social and physical wellbeing now and in the future. Health and Wellbeing is also seen as a responsibility of all adults who work with children and young people.
This annex provides a short summary of some of the practices and approaches which promote positive relationships and behaviour and can be adopted within learning establishments, with support from Education Scotland. Many of these approaches can be used both at the universal level of support, as well as targeted interventions.
Implementation and readiness are key factors for schools and local authorities when considering which approach might best suit their needs. It is important that these approaches and practices are adapted to fit within a local context whilst adhering to the fidelity of the approach.
Restorative approaches are based on a philosophy which places relationships, respect and responsibility at the heart of effective practice. The skills and processes which are key elements of restorative approaches have been demonstrated by many schools, early years' establishments and other learning settings as being more effective in addressing issues of discipline and conflict than more traditional approaches based on rewards and sanctions.
Training in restorative approaches may include:
- exploration of the key values, skills and practices involved in restorative approaches, e.g. unconditional regard, attunement, active, empathic listening;
- the development of a restorative ethos through activities such as peer support and circle time;
- exploration of the structure of restorative conversations when staff/peer mediators intervene in a situation; and
- the use of restorative meetings and conferences involving all those affected by an incident including families where appropriate (this can be more effective for schools who have already embedded restorative approaches in their practice).
Many schools across Scotland have, over the last few years, successfully introduced a range of restorative approaches and report improvements in school relationships and behaviour following this. This was reflected in research recently carried out by Glasgow and Edinburgh Universities which reported on the effectiveness of restorative approaches in three Scottish Local Authorities.
Solution oriented approaches
Solution oriented approaches provide staff with opportunities to explore aspects of their working environment and relationships within it. When a problem has been identified solution oriented approaches enable the individual to identify the skills, strengths and resources that they already have which can help them to find their own solutions. The approach aims to build individual capacity for effective problem solving and reflective practice and can often be used effectively to support key meetings and discussions within schools.
Training in solution oriented approaches may include:
- exploration of the key principles, such as:
- People have the necessary resources to make changes;
- Everyone has their own ways of solving problems;
- No sign-up, no change. Collaboration enhances change; and
- Language shapes and moulds how we make sense of the world.
- identification of applications to be used in day to day practice; and
- planning and organising a solution oriented meeting including multi-agency meetings, pre-and post-exclusion meetings and professional development reviews.
Solution oriented approaches have been used in schools for a number of years with regard to supporting day-to-day practice and can also be used to support whole school strategic change. More recently, solution oriented practice has also been used effectively to actively support positive relationships and culture at the classroom level with a growing evidence base for its use at this level.
Nurturing approaches are based on the original work of Marjorie Boxall who developed the concept of Nurture Groups in response to the social and emotional needs of young children.  A Nurture Group is intended to create a bridge between home and school with many of the interventions and targets for children and young people being based around assessment using the Boxall Profile. Adults have a key role in modelling many of the basic skills which may have been missed in early childhood.
Nurturing approaches are based on the theory of attachment which was developed by John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth and uses the six Nurturing Principles which are outlined below.
- Learning is understood developmentally;
- Environment offers a safe base;
- Nurture is important for the development of self esteem;
- Language is a vital means of communication;
- All Behaviour is Communication; and
- Transitions are important in young people's lives.
There is a long established evidence base for the use of Nurture Groups as a targeted approach to support children and young people but schools and local authorities are also increasingly seeing the benefits of using a Nurturing approach at the whole school level.
Training in Nurture would typically include:
- An understanding of early development and attachment theory and its impact on children and young people;
- An understanding of brain, stress and trauma and how it relates to children and young people's behaviour and emotional and social development;
- An overview of the Nurture Principles and how they can be applied at the whole school level and small group level; and
- The implementation of a nurturing approach across the whole school as well as the implementation of a Nurture Group.
Building positive relationships through support staff
Support staff provide a valuable contribution to improving behaviour in schools and working with some of our most vulnerable children and young people. They are often at the forefront of dealing with behaviour in schools.
Support staff need opportunities to extend their knowledge, skills and confidence to effect change within their current practice through the development of positive relationships.
Support staff should be given the opportunity to:
- reflect on practice;
- be more effective practitioners by redefining skills;
- further develop knowledge, understanding and confidence;
- become equipped with effective practical strategies to support the delivery of everyday duties; and
- be familiar with the range of programmes currently used in schools, e.g. restorative approaches and solution oriented approaches.
Education Scotland has revised and updated the training programme "Building Positive Relationships - a training programme for Support Staff (2008)  " in response to the policy guidance Better Relationships, Better Learning, Better Behaviour (2013).
The resource allows and helps support staff to: reflect on practice; be more effective practitioners by redefining skills; focus on further developing qualities and capabilities; further develop knowledge and understanding; and become equipped with effective practical strategies to support the delivery of everyday duties.
Mentors in Violence Prevention
The Mentors in Violence Prevention programme in Scotland ( MVP)  is a leadership programme in which young people are given the opportunity to explore and challenge the attitudes, beliefs and cultural norms that underpin gender-based violence, bullying and other forms of violence. Senior pupils are trained to become young leaders who support and mentor younger pupils. Within MVP a range of behaviours are explored including bullying, name-calling, sexting, controlling behaviour and harassment. The bystander approach is utilised in the programme whereby both male and female pupils are empowered to support and challenge peers and to be active in preventing violence in a safe way. MVP is most effective when part of a whole school approach and can play a key role in helping young people stay safe and support each other and in encouraging positive healthy relationships amongst peers. MVP fits well with Curriculum for Excellence and the national approach to encouraging positive relationship and behaviour in schools, and is consistent with the health and wellbeing experiences and outcomes.
The Mentors in Violence Prevention Programme was developed in the US in the 1990's by Dr Jackson Katz  . The Violence Reduction Unit  in Scotland has adapted the model for the Scottish context and supports the expansion of the programme in partnership with Education Scotland. In January 2016 MVP was being run in 54 schools in nine local authorities.
Recognising and Realising Children's Rights 
Since the UK ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991, there has been a stated commitment to protect the fundamental human dignity of every child as described by the articles of the Convention.
Recognising and Realising Children's Rights is a professional learning resource which seeks to develop adults' knowledge and understanding of children's rights, and how this can impact on their work with children and young people.
An appreciation and realisation of children's dignity is necessary for all adults in education settings in order to understand and appropriately implement such approaches as GIRFEC, Nurture, Restorative and Solution-Oriented Approaches.
Education Scotland  will continue to promote and update the resources and training materials that are available to local authorities to promote positive relationships and behaviour nationally. 
Resources to support communication
Code of practice working with children and families
The Additional Support for Learning Code of Practice provides statutory guidance to those working with children and young people with additional support needs on seeking and taking account of their views and good practice in communicating and working with parents.
The Autism Toolbox provides a wide range of advice and support for those working with children and young people with autism. The Toolbox includes advice on supporting pupils, their wellbeing and a range of supports and strategies to support communication needs. One of which is highlighted below.
A communication passport (person-centred booklet for those who cannot easily speak for themselves) may be a useful tool to help highlight to all staff (including those who don't know the child well) the areas of difficulty where a child or young person may require support and the agreed strategies. Ownership of the passport by the child or young person will increase its effectiveness.
Technology to support children and young people with complex additional support needs
This resource demonstrates how Isobel Mair School in East Renfrewshire is using a range of technology to enable children and young people with complex needs to access the curriculum and support them to learn and communicate.
Resources to support violence prevention
What Works to Reduce Crime?: A Summary of the Evidence
Work to reduce violence and knife crime
Mentors in Violence Prevention
Schools and local authorities may wish to engage with Mentors in Violence Prevention ( MVP) Scotland. This is a leadership programme which uses a bystander approach to empower young people to safely challenge and speak out against bullying, abusive and violent behaviour, as well as the negative attitudes and assumptions which underpin this behaviour.
The MVP Scotland Programme has been developed by the Violence Reduction Unit and is working with Education Scotland and local authorities to engage young people in schools to promote positive healthy relationships for young people across Scotland.
The MVP programme aims to raise awareness and challenge thinking by countering mainstream messages about gender, sex and violence, by creating a safe environment and opening dialogue for boys and girls to share their opinions and experiences and inspire leadership by empowering participants with concrete options to effect positive change.
Within MVP a range of behaviours are explored including bullying, name-calling, sexting, controlling behaviour and harassment. The bystander approach is utilised in the programme whereby both male and female pupils are empowered to support and challenge peers and to be active in preventing violence in a safe way. MVP is most effective when part of a whole school approach and can play a key role in helping young people stay safe and support each other and in encouraging positive healthy relationships amongst peers. MVP fits well with Curriculum for Excellence and the national approach to encouraging positive relationship and behaviour in schools, and is consistent with the health and wellbeing experiences and outcomes.
All schools in Scotland irrespective of whether they are serviced by a Schools Based Officer have access to community based police officers who are available to engage with staff and students.
Some local authorities across the country will have access to a Campus or Schools Based Police Officer. The main aim of the role is to improve the relationship between young people and the police locally. Their presence supports both education and wider outcomes - better relationships in schools, less anti-social behaviour and better relations with police.
No Knives Better Lives
Our national No Knives Better Lives( NKBL) partners are working with a variety of councils across the country to deliver a range of activities in schools and communities to get the message across to young people about the dangers and consequences of carrying a knife, and encourages them to make positive life choices.
NKBL is a primary prevention programme targeting young people aged 11-18 years, on the cusp of picking up a knife. The programme specifically addresses the issue of knife carrying but is informed by and is complimentary to wider youth diversionary interventions and activities that aim to prevent anti-social behaviour and offending.
Email: Douglas Forrester
Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit
The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
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