Developing Positive Relationships in Schools

  • Sue RoffeyEmail author


Positive relationships in schools are central to the well-being of both students and teachers and underpin an effective learning environment. There is now a wealth of research on the importance of connectedness in schools and on the specific qualities of in-school relationships that promote effective education. This chapter demonstrates that these are based in an ecological framework throughout the school system. What happens in one part of the school impacts on what happens elsewhere. This chapter explores what schools might do to increase the level of social capital and positive relationships within the school community.


Social Capital Emotional Intelligence Transformational Leader Positive Psychology School Leader 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Adler, P. S., & Kwon, S. (2002). Social capital: Prospects for a new concept. Academy of Management Review, 27, 17–40.Google Scholar
  2. Avolio, B. J., & Gardner, W. L. (2005). Authentic leadership development: Getting to the roots of positive leadership. The Leadership Quarterly, 16(3), 315–338.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Baker, W., & Dutton, J. E. (2007). Enabling positive social capital in organisations. In J. E. Dutton & B. R. Ragins (Eds.), Exploring positive relationships at work: Developing a theoretical and research foundation. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  4. Blum, R. W., & Libbey, H. P. (2004). Executive summary, issue on school connectedness: Strengthening health and education outcomes for teenagers. Journal of School Health, 74(7), 231–232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979). The ecology of human development: Experiments by nature and design. Cambridge, MA/London: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Bronfenbrenner, U. (2004). Making human beings human: Bioecological perspectives on. human development. London/Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  7. Catholic Education Commission Victoria (CECV). (1994). CECV policy 1.14: Pastoral care of students in catholic schools. Melbourne: CECV.Google Scholar
  8. Channer, P., & Hope, T. (2001). Emotional impact: Passionate leaders and corporate transformation. Basingstoke: Palgrave.Google Scholar
  9. Cornelius-White, J. (2007). Learner-centred teacher–student relationships are effective: A meta-analysis. Review of Educational Research, 77(1), 113–143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. de Jong, T. (2003). A framework of principles and best practice for managing student behaviour in the Australian education context. School Psychology International, 26(3), 353.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Department for Education and Skills. (2005a). The Steer report: Learning behaviour: The report of the practitioners group on school behaviour and discipline. London: DfES.Google Scholar
  12. Department for Education and Skills. (2005b). Social and emotional aspects of learning. London: DfES.Google Scholar
  13. Department of Education and Science. (1989). Discipline in schools report of the committee of enquiry, chairman Lord Elton. London: HMSO.Google Scholar
  14. Doppler, L. (2008). Restorative practices at Rozelle public school. Available on
  15. Felner, R. (2006). Poverty in childhood and adolescence: A transactional-ecological approach to understanding and enhancing resilience in contexts of disadvantage and developmental risk. In S. Goldstein & R. Brooks (Eds.), Handbook of resilience in children (pp. 125–47). New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  16. Fredrickson, B. (2009). Positivity: Groundbreaking research to release your inner optimist and thrive. Oxford: OneWorld Publications.Google Scholar
  17. Friesthler, B., Merritt, D. H., & LaScala, E. A. (2006). Understanding the ecology of child ­maltreatment. A review of the literature and directions for new research. Child Maltreatment, 11, 263–280.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Fullan, M. (2003). The moral imperative of school leadership. Thousand Oaks: Corwin Press Inc/Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  19. Galton, M., & McBeath, J. (2008). Teachers under pressure. London: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  20. Haddon, A., Goodman, H., Park, J., & Deakin Crick, R. (2005). Evaluating emotional literacy in schools: The development of the school emotional environment for learning survey. Pastoral Care in Education, 23(4), 5–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hattie, J. (2009). Visible learning, a synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  22. Hearn, L., Campbell-Pope, R., House, J., & Cross, D. (2006). Pastoral care in education. Perth: Child Health Promotion Research Unit, Edith Cowan University.Google Scholar
  23. Hoover-Dempsey, K., Walker, M., Sandler, H., Whetsel, D., Green, C., Wilkins, A., & Closson, K. (2005). Why do parents become involved? Research findings and implications. The Elementary School Journal, 2(106), 105–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Howard, S., & Johnson, B. (2002). Resilient teachers: Resisting stress and burnout. In Proceedings of the Australian Association for Research in Education Conference, Problematic Futures: Education Research in an Era of Uncertainty, Brisbane, 1–5. Available from
  25. Jennings, P. A., & Greenberg, M. T. (2009). The pro-social classroom: Teacher social and emotional competence in relation to student and classroom outcomes. Review of Educational Research, 79(1), 491–525.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Keyes, C. L. M., & Haidt, J. (Eds.). (2003). Flourishing: Positive psychology and the life well lived. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
  27. Leithwood, K., Jantzi, D., & Steinbach, R. (1999). Changing leadership for changing times. Buckingham: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Martin, A. J., & Dowson, M. (2009). Interpersonal relationships, motivation, engagement, and achievement: Yields for theory, current issues, and educational practice. Review of Educational Research, 79(1), 327–365.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. McCarthy, F. (2009). Circle time solutions: Creating caring school communities. Sydney: Report for the NSW Department of Education.Google Scholar
  30. McGrath, H., & Noble, T. (2010). Supporting positive pupil relationships: Research to practice. Educational and Child Psychology, 27(1), 79–90.Google Scholar
  31. Moore, S., & Kuol, N. (2007). Matters of the heart: Exploring the emotional dimensions of educational experience in recollected accounts of excellent teaching. International Journal for Academic Development, 12(2), 87–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Murray-Harvey, R. (2010). Relationship influences on students’ academic achievement, psychological health and wellbeing at school. Educational and Child Psychology, 27(1), 104–115.Google Scholar
  33. Noble, T., McGrath, H., Roffey, S., & Rowling, L. (2008). A scoping study on student wellbeing. Canberra: Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR).Google Scholar
  34. Noddings, N. (1988). Schools face crisis in caring. Education Week, 8(14), 32.Google Scholar
  35. NSW Commission for Children and Young People. (2009). Ask the children: Children speak about being at school. Available from
  36. OECD. (2009). Doing better for children. Accessed August 9, 2010, from
  37. Onyx, J., & Bullen, P. (2000). Measuring social capital in five communities. The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 36(1), 23–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Owens, O. P., & Ennis, C. D. (2005). The ethic of care in teaching: An overview of supportive literature. Quest, 2005(57), 392–425.Google Scholar
  39. Payton, J., Weissberg, R. P., Durlak, J. A., Dymnicki, A. B., Taylor, R. D., Schellinger, K. B., & Pachan, M. (2008). The positive impact of social and emotional learning for kindergarten to eighth-grade students. Findings from Three scientific reviews. Available at
  40. Phongsavan, P., Chey, T., Bauman, A., Brooks, R., & Silove, D. (2006). Social capital, socio-economic status and psychological distress among Australian adults. Social Science & Medicine, 63, 2546–2561.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Pianta, R. C., & Walsh, D. J. (1996). High risk children in schools: Constructing sustaining relationships. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  42. Pillay, H., Goddard, R., & Wilss, L. (2005). Wellbeing, burnout and competence implications for teachers. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 30(2), 21–31.Google Scholar
  43. Pullinger, N. (2008). Evaluation of the Sheffield SEAL program. Sheffield: Sheffield Education Services.Google Scholar
  44. Putnam, R. (2000). Bowling alone: The collapse and revival of American community. New York: Simon and Schuster.Google Scholar
  45. Robertson, J. (2006). ‘If you know our names it helps!’ Student perspectives on good teaching. Qualitative Enquiry, 12(4), 756–768.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Roffey, S. (2002). School behaviour and families: Frameworks for working together. London: David Fulton.Google Scholar
  47. Roffey, S. (2004). The home-school interface for behaviour. A conceptual framework for co-constructing reality. Educational and Child Psychology, 21(4), 95–107.Google Scholar
  48. Roffey, S. (2006). Circle time for emotional literacy. London: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  49. Roffey, S. (2007). Transformation and emotional literacy: The role of school leaders in developing a caring community. Leading and Managing, 13(1), 16–30.Google Scholar
  50. Roffey, S. (2008). Emotional literacy and the ecology of school wellbeing. Educational and Child Psychology, 25(2).Google Scholar
  51. Roffey, S. (2010). Content and context for learning relationships: A cohesive framework for individual and whole school development. Educational and Child Psychology, 27(1), 156–167.Google Scholar
  52. Roffey, S. (2011a). Changing behaviour in schools: Promoting positive relationships and wellbeing. London: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  53. Roffey, S. (2011b). The new teacher’s survival guide to behaviour (2nd ed.). Sage Publications: London.Google Scholar
  54. Rose, R. (Ed.). (2010). Overcoming international obstacles to inclusion. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  55. Scott, G. (2003). Learning principals: Leadership capability and learning research. Sydney: New South Wales Department of Education and Training, Professional Support and Curriculum Directorate.Google Scholar
  56. Scott, G. (2005). Leadership for a child friendly community. In Visions of a child-friendly community. Sydney: National Association for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect and University of Western Sydney.Google Scholar
  57. Seligman, M. E. P. (2002). Authentic happiness: Using the new positive psychology to realize your potential for lasting fulfilment. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  58. Singh, K., & Billingsley, B. S. (1996). Intent to stay in teaching. Remedial and Special Education, 17(1), 37–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Spratt, J., Shucksmith, J., Philip, K., & Watson, C. (2006, September). ‘Part of who we are as a school should include responsibility for wellbeing’: Links between the school environment, mental health and behaviour. Pastoral Care, 24(3), 14–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. St. Leger, L. (2005). Protocols and guidelines for health-promoting schools. Promotion and Education, 12, 145–147.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Sun, J., & Stewart, D. (2007). How effective is the health-promoting school approach in building social capital in primary schools? Health Education, 107(6), 556–574.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Tew, M. (2010). Emotional connections: An exploration of the relational dynamics between staff and students in schools. Educational and Child Psychology, 27(1), 133–146.Google Scholar
  63. Wingspread Declaration. (2003). Published in a special issue on School Connectedness for the Journal of School Health (2004), 74(7), 233–234.Google Scholar
  64. World Health Organisation. (1995). WHO global health initiative: Helping schools to become ‘health promoting schools’. Geneva: WHO.Google Scholar
  65. Wyn, J., Cahill, H., Holdsworth, R., Rowling, L., & Carson, S. (2000). MindMatters, a whole-school approach promoting mental health and wellbeing. The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 34(4), 594–601.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Yardley, A. (2009). Children as experts in their own lives. Child Indicators Research, Special Issue, International ISCI Conference, Sydney.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Netherlands 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EducationUniversity of Western SydneySydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Clinical, Educational & Health PsychologyUniversity CollegeLondonUK

Personalised recommendations