School-wide Positive Behaviour Support

Creating positive school environments that lead to improved behavioural and academic outcomes.

Benefits of SWPBS

School-wide Positive Behaviour Support (SWPBS) is an internationally recognised approach with an extensive evidence base that is shown to improve behavioural, wellbeing, and academic outcomes for children and young people. When SWPBS is implemented well, teachers and students have more time to focus on relationships and classroom instruction. Students and staff benefit from:

  • increased respectful and positive behaviour
  • increased time focused on instruction
  • improved social-emotional wellbeing
  • positive and respectful relationships among students and staff
  • create safe, orderly and respectful school-wide environments.

What is SWPBS?

SWPBS is an evidence-based school improvement approach that creates a positive and supportive learning environment for all students. It focuses on teaching and reinforcing positive behaviours while providing targeted assistance to students who may need extra support, leading to a more successful and inclusive learning community. When implemented well, it ensures that all students receive support to maximise behavioural, wellbeing and academic growth.

The approach also improves teacher wellbeing by providing them with the tools to establish positive climates for learning where they can focus on teaching and learning, by increasing engagement and instructional time.

SWPBS is a way to create positive, predictable, equitable and safe learning environments where everyone thrives.

Schools implementing SWPBS:

  • Use a continuum of evidence-based practices to support student needs
  • Engage students, families, and community members to co-create culturally responsive practices
  • Regularly check the effectiveness of their practices
  • Build behaviour support expertise within the school
  • Rely on teams to guide implementation
  • Use data to identify strengths, uncover needs, and monitor student progress
  • Implement universal screening to identify student needs
  • Develop content expertise through coaching and ongoing professional development

All schools can effectively implement SWPBS, including primary, secondary, P-12, and specialist schools.

Case study videos

Three case study videos across contrasting school settings provide a window into SWPBS in practice and the realised benefits.

The videos demonstrate impacts on all five FISO core elements:

  • Teaching and learning
  • Engagement
  • Support and resources
  • Leadership
  • Assessment

Improved behaviour reflected in school data - St Albans Heights Primary School

The principal, school leadership and students explain the practices and systems implemented at their school and the improvement in school data as a result.

Understanding the key practices and the role of data - Cranbourne Secondary College

In a large secondary school, the principal, school leadership and students explain how SWPBS can be adjusted to each school context, the positive climate for learning that has been created and the key role of data.

Tiered supports and outcomes for students - Yarra Ranges Special Development School

School leadership and students provide an understanding of tiered supports and how positive behaviours benefit students in a specialist setting.

Systems data practices outcomes

SWPBS is a problem-solving framework. At the heart of SWPBS is a commitment to improving outcomes for all learners. In SWPBS, teams establish systems to support consistent staff use of evidence-based practices. The diagram below illustrates the most critical elements of SWPBS. These are:

Supporting social competence SWPBS-outcomes

Multi-tiered systems of support

SWPBS uses a tiered intervention framework which operates in the same way as academic instruction: all students receive universal teaching and learning supports and in addition some students may require additional supports. The tiered supports operate as follows:

  • Universal support (tier 1): supports for all students, staff and settings
  • Targeted support (tier 2): additional specialised group systems for students with at-risk behaviour
  • Intensive support (tier 3): specialised, individualised systems for students with complex behaviour needs, provided in addition to universal and targeted supports.

How is SWPBS implemented in Victoria?

Currently, the SWPBS program supports over 400 schools across Victoria to implement the framework. An additional 350 schools will be added by the end of 2024. The Victorian SWPBS approach is based on international best practices through 17 Region-based SWPBS coaches. Coaches work with school teams to clarify a school's needs and provide the necessary professional learning and coaching for teams to embed essential features. Specifically, schools implementing SWPBS receive:

  • Regular coaching sessions each term with a regional SWPBS Coach
  • Professional learning through a suite of online blended courses
  • Annual fidelity assessments
  • Access to Online Resources Hub
  • Annual awards process and submission

Video explanation of SWPBS

SWPBS acknowledgement awards

SWPBS runs an annual school acknowledgement process designed to establish a standard for implementation in Victoria, consistent with international blueprints and to identify schools that exemplify the highest standards of systems, data, practice and outcomes.

Schools submit comprehensive evidence of their implementation as part of their application for a gold, silver, bronze or blue acknowledgment award. These applications are reviewed by Area Coaches to determine which schools will receive an award for their implementation in that year.

Apply to join

Applications to join SWPBS in 2024 have now closed. The application process to join in 2025 will be confirmed.

Find out more

For further information about SWPBS, visit the Department’s Policy and Advisory Library behaviour page or contact the SWPBS central team: