ULiège oversees the Positive Behaviour Support in Schools program


The University of Liège, through its Service of Analysis and Intervention in the fields of Dropout and Exclusion (AIDE - Education Department of the Faculty of Psychology, Speech and Language therapy, and Education) directed by Pr Ariane Baye, is setting up a school program of Support to positive behaviours in five pilot schools in the Wallonia-Brussels Federation.

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hrough a holistic approach involving the principal, the educational team and students, this program aims to improve the general climate and respect for rules within the school. It defines the positive behaviours expected to reduce behaviour problems and absenteeism. Indirectly, it must also make it possible to improve learning, academic achievements and thus also student success.

The Collège Saint-Martin to Seraing is the first pilot school to implement this program. On Monday 8 January 2018, the first 170 pupils in the first and second years of secondary school were brought together by the school management in the presence of all teachers and the Minister of Education, Marie-Martine Schyns, who is supporting this programme within the framework of the Pact of Excellence.

During the last three months, the management and educational team of the Collège Saint-Martin to Seraing have been trained by the ULiège team (Pr Ariane Baye, Caroline Deltour and Aurore Michel). The school's values were defined and then translated into the behaviour expected of students. These behaviours were presented to them on 8 January, 2018. When they arrived at the school, the students discovered a specific signage in the courtyard and in the buildings. Each teacher then presented "lessons" on expected behaviour in classrooms. The program lasts several months. Positive behaviours are valued by a system of symbolic rewards that each student can either keep for themselves or put into a common pot, giving them small "privileges" within the school.

A programme implemented in several countries

The Positive Behavior Support Program (SCP) is a program currently implemented in more than 20,000 schools in the United States and in countries with an Anglo-Saxon tradition (Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom), but also in European countries such as Spain, Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands.

This is a program based on the Response to Intervention model (Fusch et al, 2003): it is organised into three levels, with level 1 being a prevention programme for all pupils, which should be effective for 80-90% of pupils, level 2 being more targeted interventions in schools for at-risk pupils, which should be effective for an additional 5-10% of pupils, and level 3 for the most extreme cases (between 1% and 5% of pupils) which require more intensive intervention, such as the use of external expertise at school.

Key Elements of the Positive Behaviour Support Program

  • Autonomy of schools in the decision to participate: 80% of education staff must agree to commit to the project in order for it to be implemented.
  • Autonomy in decision-making: provided that the key elements of the project are in place, teams must decide, according to their specific context, on the specific values and behaviours put forward in their schools.
  • Development of local expertise: after close monitoring, the project aims at team autonomy and the use of local expertise.
  • Maximisation of existing resources: interventions must be carried out by maximising the tools already available in schools and the education system.
  • Universal prevention system: all pupils are concerned by the prevention system that is implemented at school level, and not only for certain pupils.
  • It is not the student who is targeted or stigmatized, but rather individual and collective behaviours that need to be modified.
  • Data-based decisions: continuous data collection and analysis is planned, both at school level and at the level of the system's supervisors, in order to make evidence-based decisions and to observe individual and global developments.

An axis of the Pact of Excellence

The Positive Behaviour Support programme is part of the Evidence-based policy promoted by the Pact of Excellence: the project has proven its effectiveness in other educational contexts. It has been adapted to the specificities of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation by the AIDE team of the University of Liège (Dir. Pr. Ariane Baye, Researchers: Caroline Deltour and Aurore Michel). The effectiveness of the scheme will be measured through the participation of mirror schools (comparable schools that do not benefit from the scheme).

This project is consistent with the Decree aimed at "promoting the well-being of young people in school, school clashes, in particular by preventing early school leaving, absenteeism and exclusion, preventing violence at school and supporting school guidance" (Belgian Monitor, 2014, Article 3).

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