The School & Safety Foundation is a Dutch centre of expertise for ‘safe social learning environment’. Our aim is to create a healthy social wellbeing in schools by actively sharing knowledge and experiences and by advising and supporting schools. We provide up-to-date information and expert advice. Our goal is for every school in the Netherlands to have a safe social learning environment.
The School & Safety Foundation focusses on school leaders, teachers, counsellors and – to a lesser extent – pupils. We concentrate on primary education, secondary education and secondary vocational education. We are funded by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science.
The School & Safety Foundation has a unique position, considering we act as conversation partner on three separate levels:
- The field of education.
- Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and the three education councils for primary education, secondary education and secondary vocational education.
- Other centres of expertise, schools advisory services, pedagogic centres, training offices, product developers, et cetera.
What is a ‘safe school’?
Our definition of a ‘safe school’ is a school that constantly focusses on:
- realizing a healthy social wellbeing concerning the learning and working environment;
- preventing, recognizing and addressing transgressive behaviour.
A safe school reflects continuously and critically, and makes sure that each incident decreases the chance of recurrence.
All of this is realized within a positive atmosphere that stimulates both pupils and employees to (re)-think and self-analyse their attitude and actions. Open communication is encouraged.
Stimulating positive behaviour
To ensure a healthy social wellbeing in schools it’s important to stimulate positive behaviour by, for example, formulating guidelines at school and fighting transgressive behaviour. Examples of this kind of behaviour are: aggression, bullying, discrimination, extremism, (homo)sexual intimidation, racism, radicalization, violence and so on.
The School & Safety Foundation supports schools to ensure a healthy social wellbeing of pupils and employees. Our website and our helpdesk are the starting points for every professional whose job it is to develop a safe social (learning) environment at school and in the classroom.
We provide schools and professionals with – among other things – information, teaching materials, coaching, assistance and expert advice.
A social safe learning environment is more than preventing unsafe situations from happening. The School & Safety Foundation holds the following beliefs concerning healthy social wellbeing:
- Healthy social wellbeing is a stipulation for learning and growth.
- Creating and securing a social safe learning environment is a continuous process.
- Ensuring healthy social wellbeing requires specific competences of personnel.
- Our vision on the interpretation of healthy social wellbeing in schools touches and overlaps education quality and citizenship.
- Ensuring healthy social wellbeing calls for close cooperation with parents and external partners.
- Establishing healthy social wellbeing requires more than a one-dimensional approach.
The School & Safety Foundation works with a model consisting of six wheels which, in combination, create the conditions of social safety:
- A mutual developed and supported vision and core values, from which goals, regulations and agreements spring.
- Comprehension of the perception of wellbeing by pupils, teachers, parents, supporting staff and management through monitoring.
- Setting conditions, appointing tasks, cooperation with internal and external partners.
- A positive pedagogic approach by displaying a supporting attitude, exemplary behaviour and entering into connective relations.
- Preventive activities and programs at school, aimed at pupils, parents and personnel.
- Monitoring and acting effectively towards signs of transgressive behaviour and incidents.
To increase healthy social wellbeing in schools we provide information on several themes.
Aggression & violence
Yelling and swearing pupils, fighting in the playground, weapons found in pupils’ lockers or teachers being threatened by parents. Rebellious and aggressive behaviour occurs everywhere that groups gather, schools and classrooms included. We offer information about the different forms of aggression and violence, including the differences in pupils’ motivations. We also provide tips and solutions for schools to prevent aggression and violence from rising, and on how to handle this in the right manner.
Ideally there’s a positive atmosphere at school, pupils get along fine and there’s no bullying. Unfortunately, bullying happens at every school and in every classroom. We provide information that helps schools in creating positive group dynamics. We have practical guidelines on how to address bully-incidents and prevent them from happening.
We participated in the European project #DeleteCyberbullying. This app is an interactive quiz for teenagers, parents and teachers. The aim is to redirect the user to the most relevant information sources, material or even to be able to call for help if the user is experiencing cyberbullying. The app covers the following countries: Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and United Kingdom. Our foundation provided the Dutch translation for this app.
More and more schools face incidents, calamities and/or shocking events that involve pupils and/or teachers. Events such as violence or threats, or casualties at school. These incidents have an enormous impact on the day-to-day activities at school. For help, expert advice and guidance schools can contact our helpdesk. Our helpdesk is open on every school day from 9 am to 4 pm. In case of an emergency after hours schools can always contact our Calamity Team.
To read more about how to cope with disaster in an educational setting, please read the following publication: If a disaster befalls the school (pdf). The author, Ine Spee, is one of our expert advisors of the Calamity Team.
Securing and encouraging a healthy social wellbeing in schools is not necessarily the same as ‘citizenship education’. Still, both subjects share some common ground. When a school provides a safe learning environment, pupils learn and grow. And that’s where social wellbeing and citizenship education meet. Every Dutch school sets (citizenship) goals. What does a school wish to teach their pupils? Which competences should they have obtained by the time they leave school? In what kind of society should they be able to remain standing and participate? The goals fit the vision of the school. Set goals demand certain competences: knowledge, skills and attitude. It’s important that citizenship education isn’t limited to making challenging social themes a subject of discussion. Citizenship education treats about a certain kind of growth that is decided upon beforehand by the school.
It’s not always easy to address discrimination. Nevertheless, it is necessary. Not only because discrimination is against the law, but also because sometimes the experienced discrimination is very intangible. Impalpable, but existing, also in schools. We offer teachers tips and a helping hand to create more awareness of discrimination and prejudice among pupils.
The ‘us versus them’-idea seems to be growing in our society. Pupils bring it into the schools and classrooms. That’s not necessarily negative: there will always be differences of opinion. Sometimes it’s even useful. As long as the gap between the opposing ideas isn’t too big, because that’s when nuances disappear and polarization lies in wait. Increasing polarization ensures more topics of conversation, but less reasonableness. Also in classrooms. We offer guidelines, information and coaching to professionals to help them dealing with this topic.
Radicalization develops in a changeable way. A pupil who’s being influenced by a radical range of thoughts drift off from democracy and heads towards violent extremism. He or she gets inspired and starts believing in the extreme ‘us versus them’-idea. He will draw more and more personal conclusions and will glorify violence to achieve his ideals. Radicalization will possibly lead to a misspent youth. We provide information and a helping hand to schools on how to cope with situations like these.
Children grow continuously, and this includes their sexuality. Sexual behaviour of pupils also takes place at school: from their first day in nursery school until the day they graduate. Usually it’s normal behaviour fitting the child’s age, but sometimes the school faces sexual transgressive behaviour. We offer schools and teachers information and guidelines: What do they need to know and do if being confronted with sexual behaviour and sexual transgressive behaviour of pupils? We also provide information on how to handle incidents of sexual abuse or intimidation of a pupil by a school employee.
Putting work in the theme ‘sexual diversity’ is essential for the safety of all pupils and teachers. In the Netherlands it’s a mandatory part of the curriculum since 2012. The School & Safety Foundation helps schools to determine the course fitting the school’s identity. The website www.gayandschool.nl (Dutch only) provides schools with information and guidelines to meet the criteria of the curriculum. Sexual diversity is also an important part of social (un)safety in schools, which makes it a substantial part of the mission of the School & Safety Foundation. That’s why also our corporate website provides information on this topic.
Social safety also refers to ‘online’ safety. Transgressive behaviour and misuse of social media form a threat to the safety and wellbeing of pupils and employees. What is it that schools face? What can a teacher or the management do to prevent incidents on social media from happening? And how can a school address transgressive online behaviour? We provide information and points of action, and refer to practical materials and publications on improving online safety in schools.
For more information please contact the School & Safety Foundation:
Phone: +31 30 285 65 31
Zwarte Woud 2
3524 SJ Utrecht