Support Planner:  Levels of response


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Many levels or zones of response

[NOTE: While the following text is written about challenging student behaviour the same principles apply to many other kinds of challenges]


There are several levels of response to student needs/behaviour and many different ways to conceptualize these levels. For example


  1. Ad hoc - as in 'Welcome back Kotter' & ' Seven Periods With Mr Gormsby'
  2. Reactive -  criticising, correcting, zero tolerance, three strikes, consequences, sending home reports, etc
  3. Responsive - achieving resolution of situations that arise
  4. Proactive - putting in place measures that significantly reduce the occurrence of incidents
  5. Capacity building - focusing on developing the capacity of the school (staff and programs) to meet the needs of all involved within the everyday life and work of the school, that is, making special initiatives into everyday activities
  6. Community building - achieving a culture shared throughout the school and with the community in which differences & conflicts are dealt with easily and well, that is, developing the school as a purposeful community together with its community, eg, Peaceful Schools


[Other film examples : Rambo (2); Fonzy (1-3); Stand and Deliver (1-5); Lean on Me (1-6)]


It can be useful to think of responding to students' needs for support as a multi-leveled or multi-zoned activity




Goals, strategies & tactics and outcomes

  1. Ad hoc 2. Reactive 3. Responsive 4. Proactive 5. Capacity Building 6.Community Building
Basic goal Containment Deterrence

& defeat



& repair


success & well-being

& prevention

Success & well-being for all


The school as a peaceful purposeful community
Core strategy Correction 



Monitoring & responding Team response,

matching interventions to concerns & capacities

Sense making focused on match between needs & school practices Conversation & peace work
Tools & Tactics Humour, stories

complaints, timeouts,

friendship, questions


Incident cards,

rules, contracts,

timeouts, suspension...

Records, reports, 



IEPs, ISP, agreements, programs, reviews, team work Plans, team work, targeted programs,

& school development

based on summary reports

Community building
Peace work
Common outcomes 
& experiences
Re-patterned behaviour 
or rework
Power struggle 
&/or rework
Peace making 
and/or rework
Reduced need for support Improved school provision, arrangements & practices Secure well-being
(low anxiety & stress)
& success for all


People, time and knowledge

  1. Ad hoc 2. Reactive 3. Responsive 4. Proactive 5. Capacity Building 6.Community Building



Person on the spot


Person on the spot 
and senior staff

(role authority)



Staff, student, family & support services


School, staff, student, family, support services, community & profession


Everyone as contributing members of the community


Time focus Past Past & present Past, present &

immediate future

Immediate past to near future Ongoing Ongoing
Knowledge Focus Reputations

& situation

Explanation of reaction Basis for resolution How to achieve  shared success & well-being Trends, implications & opportunities for school development Self & others


Using the Planner

  1. Ad hoc 2. Reactive 3. Responsive 4. Proactive 5. Capacity Building 6.Community Building



N/a Recording Monitoring

& reporting


 collaborating, and continuous improvement for student


 collaboration, and continuous improvement of school provision and practices
Anticipating and supporting & communicating
Data focus Behaviour Unacceptable behaviour & consequences Inappropriate behaviour & school responses Collated concerns, capabilities, goals, trends,  contributions &  responses PBS...

Areas of need & effectiveness of practices

Personal goals
Conflict, bullying and
pre-violence indicators

post conflict work



  • Each level of response contains within it some elements of all other levels 
  • Each level may be useful in the situation (in terms of efficiency and effectiveness)
  • All schools operate at each of the levels to a greater or lesser extent
  • A well managed lower level is often better than an ineffective 'higher' level approach
  • Each school tends to operate at a particular level depending on its stage of development
  • The use of the Support Planner may assist in moving or extending the school's dominant approach to greater use of a higher level
  • Behavioral matters tend to attract or prompt, explicit but lower levels of school response because of their urgency
  • The predominant level adopted by a school is a powerful message that defines the purposes, values and capabilities of the school 
  • Needs that are clearly long term (e.g., related to a diagnosed physical disability) are more likely to attract a proactive response
  • The need for different data and knowledge changes between practices at different
  • Rather than change to another level, improvement is more a matter of expanding to include
    • more higher level responses
    • more effective lower level responses 
  • Level 6 requires peace work and an understanding of conflict - not necessarily easy for those who still see their role as behaviour management (a common perspective at Level 2)

Potential value

The potential value of frameworks such as the above, is that they may enable schools to gain better insights into

  • the present stage of development of school practices
  • how the school might progress
  • and what might be involved in achieving progress


The need for school development arises from experiences that are inconsistent with the basic concept underpinning the level of response. See Levels of Response workshop

Key questions

There are two key questions that we continually ask in all our (working) relationships

  • Does this person (or school) care?
  • Does this person  (or school) know what he or she is doing?

The dominant level of response used by schools implies answers to these fundamental questions


It may be useful to think in terms of   Positive Support Planning categories (at least initially)

  • Environment initiatives that it make it easier for the student to succeed
  • Educational so that the student can better meet his/her own needs
  • Responses to the student's inappropriate behaviour that are most helpful


It may be useful to think in terms of three categories of data

  • Input data such as incident details, needs, capabilities, trends
  • In-process data such as who is doing what and when, that is, support actions
  • Output data such as trends, progress such as fewer incidents, faster recovery, less severe

Long term strategy

The long term strategy is not about the students at all. It is about the increasing the capacity of the school to contribute to the success and well-being of its students, their families and school staff members. The key to capacity building is that what used to be special responses to student needs for support become everyday supportive actions as part of the life and work of the school and its community.




Ivan Webb Pty Ltd 2001 onwards