In a nutshell
The National School Safety Framework (NSSF) is designed to provide a comprehensive document that can guide the Department of Basic Education, schools, districts and provinces on a common approach to achieving a safe, healthy and violence-free learning environment. It is also intended for other national and provincial state departments involved in any way in achieving a safe school environment, in order to ensure a common understanding of the nature and extent of school violence, and a shared evidence-based approach to school safety and violence prevention.
What we do
The NSSF was developed in order to provide an all-inclusive strategy to guide the national and provincial education departments in a coordinated effort to address the violence occurring within schools. This Framework is based on the Hlayiseka School Safety Toolkit, a brainchild of the CJCP in collaboration with the then national Department of Education, and is the result of efforts to simplify the approach and tools used in the safety toolkit.
Safety within schools is not merely the absence of violence, but encompasses many other aspects critical to school safety that are not covered in this framework, such as health, infrastructure, occupational health, disaster risk management and curriculum design. It should be borne in mind, however, that the purpose of this Framework is to focus only on the levels of violence that have been plaguing schools countrywide to provide a guide on managing the school to be a safer space, making sure the appropriate structures, policies and enabling environment in place, as well as to direct school management and all within the school towards appropriate remedial and preventative interventions.
The overall aim of the Framework is to create a safe, violence and threat-free, supportive learning environment for learners, educators, principals, school governing bodies and administration. The broad objectives of this framework are to:
- Assist the school in understanding and identifying all security issues and threats;
- Guide schools to effectively respond to identified security issues and threats;
- Create reporting systems and manage reported incidents appropriately; and
- Help the school to monitor its progress over time.
The Framework aims to consolidate existing school safety and violence prevention initiatives and strategies, and provides the thread that links them all together. A key feature of this document, is that it draws on the relationship between violence and other ecological factors relating to safe and caring schools by locating the school within its broader community.
How we do it
The Framework is accompanied by targeted training on the contents and implementation, while, at the same time, being an accessible and easy-to-use resource for each and every school throughout South Africa.
This first section, Part A, provides a framework for a common approach to school safety. It offers a common understanding of school violence, within a broader context of violence prevention and safe schools evidence-based practices. The importance of safe schools to the development of healthier communities is discussed, including the importance of risk and resilience factors, all of which are important to achieving safe schools. A common set of definitions is provided, together with an overview of a whole-school approach. Some of the common challenges that are faced by schools in achieving safety for both learners and educators are discussed, as is the role of police in achieving a safe school.
Part A is followed by Part B of the Framework, comprising the manual and implementation tools. This comprises several subsections:
1. A step-by-step guide on the implementation of the tools; and
2. The tools themselves, which are, in turn, divided into several easy-to-use instruments:
- identifying readiness to implement the framework;
- engaging educators and non-educator staff in identifying, responding to, and evaluating interventions aimed at
3. improving school safety;
- learners’ experiences of crime and violence, and their suggestions to improve school safety; and
- a monitoring and evaluation tool for schools to use to assess progress.
Finally, the Framework includes a series of addendums, offering discrete, stand-alone training manuals and materials that cover specific aspects of school safety. These include:
1. The School Bullying module;
2. The Homophobia module;
3. The Xenophobia module; and
4. Additional gangs awareness material.
What we have achieved
The original framework (Hlayiseka School Safety Toolkit) has been evaluated and found to have impact in making schools a safer place for learners and staff. The Hlayiseka School Safety Toolkit has been revised and streamlined into the current NSSF.
The current NSSF was signed off by the Minister of the Department of Basic Education (DBE) earlier this year. The rolling-out of the training of DBE provincial and district master trainers has begun. CJCP and the DBE has opted to use the cascading training model where master trainers are identified at district level. These maters trainers are trained on the NSSF and are mandated to roll the training out at school-level within their respective districts.
To date, training of provincial and district master trainers has been completed in the following provinces:
- Eastern Cape
- North West
Training in the remaining provinces will be completed by the end of August 2015. The NSSF will be finalised by incorporating inputs from the provinces that emerged from the training, and released at school level in the second half of 2015.
What we have learned
Evaluation of the implementation of the NSSF will take place in 2016 via the provincial and national DBE structures. CJCP will also be providing mentoring and support, as and when requested by the DBE.