Safe Learning in primary school

Safe Learning in primary school includes pupils, teachers and the school management and is implemented by using systematic measures that combine instruction, activities that foster a harmonious and secure environment and by the use of conflict management.  It requires continual focus to strengthen the social and emotional competence of both the pupil and adults. Safe Learning is a tool that stimulates the development of empathy, cooperation, self-assertiveness, self-control and responsibility. This is in accordance with the educational authorities description of the commitment to the development of social competency in the school system. The systematic measures implemented in the Safe Learning model are also specified in the Education Act paragraph 9a, where it states that the «school has a commitment to ensure both active and systematic measures to maintain a good and healthy learning, social and working environment for pupils».

Pupil mediation

In addition to working proactively, an important systematic measure in addition to instruction and activities is training in pupil mediation and how to apply its principles. Pupil mediation methods can be used to remedy the relationship between pupils or when the pupil – teacher  relationship has broken down. Although conflict resolution is an important element, it is necessary to note that that preventative measures requiring the development of fundamental social skills and relationship building are the most comprehensive part of the Safe Learning model.

Learning through dialogue and reflection

The fundamental idea for Safe Learning is based on Paulo Freires teaching principle of learning through dialogue and reflection by applying personal experiences. This principle is easily incorporated into the classroom setting and the methodology can be applied to all subjects. Exercises and games that are used in workshops can also be adapted for use in a normal classroom setting. The exercises can also be adapted to provide for both varied as well as adapted learning situations in the classroom. The systematic measures should not be considered as an additional teaching element but rather incorporated as a part of the classroom learning environment.

Management commitment

The most important prerequisite to ensure that systematic changes will be successful is management commitment. Continual focus must be given to reflect on how attitudes and methods can be incorporated into existing programs for example those associated with mental health. Safe Learning for primary school is not a program that should be followed rigidly, but rather a thought process to reflect on methods that can be part of the schools agenda to ensure a good learning environment both in and outside of the classroom.