​​​​​The role of school leaders

Leadership of a safe and supportive school is characterised by strong commitment and oversight, communication of a clear and sustainable vision, access to resources, designated staff with responsibilities, actions that translate the commitment into practice, and a cycle of regular review.

This page is based directly on content from the National Safe S​chools Framework​. The National Safe Schools Framework is now superseded by the Australian Student Wellbeing Framework (PDF, 2.7MB)​.​

The vision

Resourcing to support implementation

Involvement of the whole school community

Communication and networks

School data and knowledge base

Regular review


The school leaders' role in oversight includes:

  • ensuring that students learn in a safe and supportive environment, which requires ongoing planning, development and maintenance
  • providing a safe working environment for staff and visitors to the school
  • reviewing the current situation within the school context in relation to the learning and working environment
  • identifying and aligning school directions with both current research and relevant sector/state/territory legislation and policies.

The vision

School leaders provide vision through:

  • ensuring that the vision statement and the strategies are clearly documented as an important school policy
  • identifying existing school practices that are compatible with the vision
  • seeking regular feedback on the achievement of the vision from representatives of the school community
  • reshaping and adapting the vision and the accompanying strategies when required
  • systematically reviewing progress in relation to the achievement of the vision
  • engaging staff and representative members of the school community in the collaborative development of a vision of a safe and supportive school community that is practical and achievable and committed to by all members of the school community
  • developing processes to implement and review school initiatives based on the vision, such as appointing a school safety and wellbeing team.

Resourcing to support implementation

School leaders ensure resources to support the implementation of the vision through:

  • identifying budget implications for implementation of the vision
  • making regular provision for financial expenditure to ensure the development of a safe and supportive school environment
  • advocating for and facilitating the availability of human, financial and technological resources to ensure the development of a safe and supportive school environment.

Involvement of the whole school community

School leadership is pivotal to the involvement of the whole school community in preventing bullying. A range of strategies fosters this involvement, including:

  • working with the school community, including parents, carers and students, to evaluate the school's capacity to develop and maintain a safe and supportive school
  • providing opportunities for gaps to be addressed through professional learning, visits to other schools and professional networking
  • ensuring regular safety audits (e.g. occupational health and safety audit) are conducted within the school by accredited professional organisations
  • focusing on current policy analysis, resource allocation (e.g. staff, time, funds, materials), level of knowledge, skills and commitment, level of external support, potential barriers and partnerships
  • identifying staff learning needs in relation to safe and supportive communities and provides appropriate professional development opportunities
  • promoting the availability of wellbeing support strategies within the school to all staff and students
  • identifying key responsibilities in regards to student safety and wellbeing and selecting and supporting staff with these responsibilities
  • ensuring that identified staff have the capacity to implement policy directions and inspire colleagues to do the same.

Communication and networks

School leaders ensure appropriate communication, including:

  • clearly communicating safe and supportive school policy and practices to all staff including support staff and casual teaching staff, students, parents, carers and families
  • regularly reviewing and communicating the key principles and practices of a safe and supportive school
  • developing a network with key members of the community (e.g. specific groups of refugees or immigrants) to facilitate the maintenance of a safe and supportive learning environment.

School data and knowledge base

School leaders play a central role in developing sound, comprehensive local knowledge through:

  • ensuring regular, ethical and valid data collection on issues related to student safety and wellbeing and using the data to identify specific school needs, what's working and what needs to be improved
  • utilising appropriate mechanisms for school community representatives to gather and analyse data and provide regular feedback on implementation. These mechanisms, reflecting the school's context, may be facilitated by a school safety committee, school wellbeing team or school council/board.
  • building a knowledge base about the school community that facilitates the maintenance of records, such as keeping class/year level photos of students on file
  • ensuring that all family files are consistently kept up to date, particularly in terms of critical incidents
  • liaising with sectors and systems to stay up-to-date about legislation and policies related to student wellbeing, child maltreatment, harassment, aggression, violence and bullying
  • developing processes for dissemination about changes and amendments to relevant policies and legislation.

​Regular review

School leaders drive progress through planning for continuous school improvement and the sustainability of safe school initiatives.

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