Information for schools - bullying prevention and response

Information for schools

What we want to know:
How effectively schools are promoting and implementing bullying prevention and response strategies, programmes and practices, toward achieving a bullying-free environment in which students feel safe and free from bullying.

Primary and intermediate schools: as part of your education review scheduled in Term 1, 2018.
Secondary schools: as part of your education review scheduled in Terms 1 and 2, 2018

Why are we evaluating this?
Bullying is seen as a key risk factor for physical and mental health, educational achievement and social relationships.  Concern has increased over the last decade in New Zealand about the level and nature of bullying in schools, and the risks it poses to all those involved, including bystanders.

Our questions are:

Leadership, policies and processes

  • What policies, processes and practices does your school have in place to:

-          create and maintain a bullying-free environment?

-          respond to specific incidents of bullying?

-          provide specific support including for targets, initiators of bullying, and witnesses?

-          create a positive and inclusive school environment – does this include the online environment?

  • Has your school used any specific tools, programmes or initiatives? What are they, and what was the rationale for choosing them?
  • How do leaders encourage and support staff and students to take responsibility for helping create a bullying-free environment? (e.g. clear expectations of staff and student behaviour; PLD; implementation of initiatives; integration in curriculum)
  • How do you involve parents, family/whānau in developing and supporting the school’s approach to bullying prevention and response? What difference has this made?

Internal evaluation and monitoring

  • How does your school collect and analyse information about the type and scale of bullying in the school to inform decisions and actions?
  • How has the school used this information?
  • How does your school measure the effectiveness of, and review the school’s bullying prevention and response policies, programmes and practices? Specific examples of effectiveness or improvement would be helpful.
  • How has your school used the findings from the NZCER Wellbeing in Schools survey? (if applicable)

If the school has not already used the Wellbeing survey, do you plan to use it in future?

[Note, the survey is free for schools in 2018]

  • Are there any additional comments you would like to make about how the school monitors what is happening in relation to bullying prevention and response?

Curriculum and staff commitment

  • What examples does your school have of responsive programmes or interventions that have or are having a significant impact on reducing or addressing bullying behaviour in the school?
  • representatives of the board of trustees
  • school leaders
  • teachers
  • school counsellor or similar (as applicable)
  • groups of 5 to 10 students from Year 4 and above.  Groups could include students from a mix of year levels such as: Years 4-6, Years 7-8, Years 9-10, Years 11-13, if appropriate. It would be useful if participating students have been in your school for at least six months, and offer a range of perspectives and experience.  Students’ participation is voluntary.  Schools should notify parents / care givers according to the school’s protocols, as necessary.

We would like to talk to:

We would also like to see copies of your policies, curriculum documents and any other relevant documents, such as evidence of consultation with parents, whānau and the community about the health curriculum.

If the school has a student support group (such as a Queer/Straight Alliance or peer support), ERO would appreciate an opportunity to meet with this group.

Talking with students

Student voice is a central and critical component of this evaluation, since students can be the initiators, targets and/or bystanders to bullying, and can offer powerful insights from their experiences and perspectives.  We are seeking students’ views and experiences of bullying prevention and response in their schools.

Interview questions for students

  • What are your school’s values / messages around how people treat each other, and about bullying?  What do they mean to you?
  • Have you experienced bullying at school?
  • What have you learnt at school about how to respond when bullying happens to you or others?
  • Have you used any of the tools or advice you have been given at school? 
  • If yes, what happened? 
  • If not, what stopped you?
  • Do you feel that these tools and advice are effective for dealing with, or preventing bullying?

Do you have ideas about what could be more effective or better?

  • What are your expectations of what adults in your school will do if you tell them you or someone else is being bullied?
  • How well does your school help students to be actively involved in reducing bullying?
  • If you had a magic wand, what would you change in your school to prevent bullying?

If a student shares information with ERO Review Officers that makes them think there is a risk to the students’ safety or somebody else’s safety, or if a student shares information about being bullied, assaulted or harassed, Review Officers will follow your school’s child protection policy, as well as ERO’s guidance for reporting, to make sure they talk to the right people.

If a student would like to speak to someone about any questions or concerns they have, ERO will direct them to talk to a trusted teacher, guidance counsellor, dean or other trusted adult.

Online student survey

To understand the effect of school-wide bullying prevention and response policies, approach and practices, we have developed a short online survey for students in Years 4 to 13 in all schools involved in this national evaluation.  Review officers will discuss the administration of the survey with each school principal prior to the review.  The link for the survey is: The survey will open on 9 February and close on 6 August Term 3.

The survey questions for students are:

  1. What is the name of your school?
  2. What town or city is your school in or near?
  3. What is your gender?
  4. What is your ethnicity?
  5. What year of school are you in?
  6. How long have you been in the school you go to now?
  7. Who would you tell if you were being bullied?
  8. Please tick whether you agree or disagree with the following sentences
  • At my school, people accept me for who I am.
  • I enjoy being at school.
  • At my school we learn how we should treat each other.
  • Teachers behave in the way they would like us to behave.

9. At the school you go to now, have any of the things below happened to you?

  • I have been called names, put down, or teased in a mean way
  • I have been left out by other students or ignored on purpose
  • I have been threatened
  • I have been hit, pushed, kicked, punched, choked
  • I have had personal things (like pens, clothes or money) damaged in a mean way, or stolen
  • I have had lies or bad stories spread about me
  • I have got nasty messages on my phone or computer
  • I have been made to do something I didn’t want to do
  • Other (please describe)

10. At the school I go to now, I learn what to say or do if students are bullying me, or other students

11. Have you been bullied at the school you are going to now?

12. Have you ever seen someone else bullied at the school you are going to now?

If student selects ‘Yes’ for this option, question 13 will be displayed. If the student selects ‘No’ for this option they will be re-directed to question 17

13. How confident did you feel to say or do what you had learnt when you were bullied or saw someone bullied?

14. Did you say or do any of the things you learned about when you were bullied or saw someone bullied?

If student selects ‘Yes’ for this option, question 16 will be displayed. If the student selects ‘No’ for this option, question 15 will be displayed.

15. What was the main thing that stopped you saying, or doing, any of the things you learnt?
16. What happened when you said, or did, any of the things you learnt?
17. What do you think adults at school should do if you tell them you have been bullied?
18. What do you do to make your school a safer place to prevent bullying? (please describe)
19. If you had a magic wand, what would you change in your school to stop bullying?

Note: Students will not be asked for their names so the survey will be anonymous. Table 1 below gives you a guide for the student survey sample size of Year 4 students, as a proportion of the school roll, to produce statistically robust estimates of bullying prevalence within your school, and therefore across all participating schools reviewed in Terms 1 and 2. The information from the student survey will help us to understand what bullying prevention and response good practice looks like from students’ experience and perspective. 

School roll categories (Yr4 students)

Minimum sample sizes required (proportion of yr4 students)


80 – 95 %


60 – 85 %


40 – 70 %


25 – 55 %


15 – 40 %


10 – 30 %


5 – 15 %

If your school aims to achieve a high response rate to the online survey, you may prefer to offer the opportunity for students to complete the survey during class time or during form time.  This approach may also give some idea of how many students have completed the survey.

Your school might be using the NZCER Wellbeing@School survey – that’s fantastic and the review team wants to hear about what you know about student wellbeing and your response to the findings.  Some of the questions in ERO’s student survey are similar to the NZCER Wellbeing in Schools survey. This will allow some comparison to be made between ERO’s and NZCER’s findings on those questions. ERO’s survey focuses specifically on bullying prevention and response and takes 5-10 minutes to complete. The survey was piloted with a group of Years 4-13 students.

Using the survey

If your school would like a copy of ERO’s student survey to use as part of your own internal evaluation of the effectiveness of your implementation of bullying prevention and response policies, programmes and practices, please email ERO with your request.

What we will do with the information you share

The overall findings from the NET will be aggregated for a national report on the effectiveness of schools’ promotion and implementation of bullying prevention and response strategies and practices toward creating environments in which students feel safe and free from bullying. 

If we want to use any specific examples from your school in the report, we will check the details with you first. We will not identify the school or any individual in the report.