Step 1: Prepare and plan

The first step is to plan and set up the infrastructure to support implementation of a bullying prevention plan, incorporating the nine core elements of bullying prevention.

On this page:

This section provides information and advice on the planning and preparation phase.

1. Leadership - commitment and involvement

Leadership is a critical to establishing and maintaining a safe and supportive school. It’s important to demonstrate a strong commitment, communicate a clear vision, and translate that commitment into a programme of actions and a cycle of regular review. Strong leadership also means having a good oversight of bullying prevention initiatives, and making sure there are enough resources and staff. 

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Wellbeing for Success: A resource for Schools

Wellbeing for success: a resource from the Education Review Office to help schools evaluate and improve student wellbeing. It highlights the importance of schools promoting student wellbeing as well a...

The school leaders' role includes making sure that:

  • a bullying prevention strategy or plan is clearly documented, and that existing policies and processes fit with the plan
  • progress is monitored and plans are systematically reviewed
  • a team led by a school leader is selected and supported with key responsibilities for student safety and wellbeing
  • data is regularly collected on student safety and wellbeing and is used to identify needs, what's working and what needs to be improved
  • staff have the capacity to implement the plan and inspire colleagues - opportunities are provided for professional learning and development
  • budget and other resources required are allocated
  • staff, students, parents/whānau and the wider community are consulted on the strategy and involved in a vision of a safe and supportive school community occurs
  • relationships with key members of the community are built (e.g. specific community groups) to help support and maintain a safe and supportive learning environment
  • plans are promoted to all staff and students, and clearly and regularly communicated to parents, carers and whānau, and the wider community
  • the school is up to date with legislation and policies related to student wellbeing, child maltreatment, harassment, aggression, violence and bullying.

2. Forming a team

It’s a good idea for schools to set up a bullying prevention team or incorporate the work into an existing team focused on student behaviour/wellbeing to review to look at what’s already in place and drive new initiatives.

Bullying prevention initiatives are more successful when they are collaborative. The team should be diverse and reflect a range of perspectives, knowledge and experience.  Ideally, all the key groups that make up the school’s community should be represented on the team.

The team may include:

  • the principal and at least one other member of the senior leadership team
  • the person / people responsible for pastoral care
  • the special needs coordinator (SENCO) or your local RTLB or PB4L leader
  • someone who oversees the health component of the Health and PE learning area
  • deans or teachers responsible for different year levels with different subject expertise
  • student leaders
  • board of trustee members, and parent and whānau representatives
  • support and administration staff
  • other community members or groups which are closely involved with your school.

It will vary depending on the size and context of the school, but it is important to include at least one member of the school’s senior leadership team. As part of establishing the team, a team leader should be selected.

3. Self-review planning process

Self-review planning processes help ensure a strategic whole-school approach to bullying prevention. Schools should choose or create a model that suits their individual values and culture, and use it as part of the planning and preparation phase.

The self-review guidance provided on this website is based upon the model shown below:

BFNZ SelfReviewCycleDiagram
Self-review cycle

Self-review cycles should be designed to fit within a 3 to 5-year timeframe, with annual reviews to refresh/revise planning and ensure everything is on track. A complete review of the overall bullying prevention plan should be carried out every 3 to 5 years.

4. Planning tools

The bullying prevention team should identify the planning tools it wishes to use. These tools could include:

  • an overall planning process (for example, a 3 to 5 year self-review planning cycle)
  • the action plan tool
  • change management tools
  • a communication plan.

There is a range of tools available to support planning. Schools can choose and adapt tools to suit their culture and values. 

Here are some examples of planning tools that are available.

Action plan templates

This sample action plan can be used to help develop a school’s bullying prevention and response action plan.

strategic aims chart2
Sample action plan template

Change management

Implementing a bullying prevention plan might involve changing what you already do or how you currenlty address bullying behaviour. A change management tool can help you implement your plan effectively.

PPTA Change Management Toolkit(external link)

Communication Planning

Regularly sharing information with whānau and the school community is important for bullying prevention. Having a Communications Plan as part of your wider Bullying Prevention Action Plan will help you communicate more effectively.

You could provide information on:

  • the definition of bullying, including cyberbullying - it's important the whole school community has a shared understanding of what is and is not bullying behaviour
  • types of bullying behaviour and the extent to which it happens nationally and in your school
  • the different roles that students can take in bullying behaviour (initiators, targets and bystanders), and the important impact bystanders can have
  • the impacts of bullying on all those involved
  • the signs that a child may be involved in bullying behaviour and what parents and whānau can do
  • the school’s policies on bullying prevention and response and what that means for students and their whānau
  • what parents and whānau can expect when they report concerns about bullying
  • the successes of the school’s bullying prevention plan
  • consultation processes with the school community on any proposed changes to the plan.

Communication planning advice(external link) - the the Ministry of Education ‘Educational Leaders’ website provides advice on effective communication planning.

The Parent and Whānau section of this website has more information for parents on bullying behaviour. You could also use the The Guide to Bullying - a guide for parents and whānau to support your communication with parents.


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5. Working in partnership with students

Working in partnership with students to identify, develop and monitor bullying prevention solutions is one of the most powerful things a school can do.

Read more about Student leadership, voice, and agency

Further information

For information on working in partnership with students refer to the PB4L information sheet “Injecting student voice into positive behaviour approaches”(external link)  

6. Planning to consult with parents, whānau and the wider community

Consultating with parents, whānau and the wider school community is an important part of developing a school-wide bullying prevention approach. Each school will need to consult in ways that are appropriate for their school community. Some ideas include:

  • using the Wellbeing@School Student Survey to design a parent and whānau survey
  • inviting whānau representatives to join your bullying prevention team
  • having a display or holding discussion groups at a time when parents and whānau are likely to be at school, such as during student learning or reporting conferences
  • reaching out to the community by organising consultation hui at local marae, fono at local churches or community centres, or meetings at the homes of parents and whānau
  • using the school's facebook page or a free online survey tool such as Survey Monkey(external link).

Schools might ask parents and whānau about the ‘feel’ or climate of the school, whether they feel the school is a safe and caring place for their children, how this could be improved, and ways the community and school could work together to support each other.

Further information

For more on consulting with parents, whānau and the school community

7. Defining bullying

Developing a shared understanding of bullying at this planning stage is important. This means everyone – students, teachers, school leaders, whānau and wider community – can consistently recognise and deal with bullying when it happens and all planning is based upon the shared understanding.

The bullying prevention team should work with staff, parents, students and the wider community to develop a shared view about what bullying is.  This is an important process that needs to be completed before moving on to Step Two of the self-review process.   

For further information on the definition of bullying refer to the Defining bullying pages.