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Learning Together

A whole-school program that aims to improve the school environment to reduce bullying and aggression, and promote student health and wellbeing.

Fact Sheet

Program Outcomes

  • Alcohol
  • Antisocial-aggressive Behavior
  • Bullying
  • Conduct Problems
  • Delinquency and Criminal Behavior
  • Illicit Drug Use
  • Mental Health - Other
  • Sexual Risk Behaviors
  • Tobacco

Program Type

  • Bullying Prevention
  • Restorative Justice
  • School - Environmental Strategies
  • Social Emotional Learning

Program Setting

  • School

Continuum of Intervention

  • Universal Prevention

Age

  • Early Adolescence (12-14) - Middle School

Gender

  • Both

Race/Ethnicity

  • All

Endorsements

Blueprints: Promising

Program Information Contact

Chris Bonell, Ph.D.
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
Keppel Street, Bloomsbury
London
WC1E 7HT
U.K.
Phone: +44 (0)20 7612 7918
Email: Chris.Bonell@lshtm.ac.uk

Program Developer/Owner

Chris Bonell, Ph.D.
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine


Brief Description of the Program

Learning Together is a school-based intervention grounded in schoolwide policies and systems, restorative practices, and social and emotional education with adolescents to reduce bullying and aggression and promote various dimensions of health and wellbeing. The program includes all-school staff trainings, restorative practices delivered by staff, specialized restorative practices for more serious behavior problems, action group meetings comprised of students and staff, and teacher-delivered lessons on social and emotional skills. The program lasts three years, during grades 8-10.

Learning Together is a school-based intervention grounded in schoolwide policies and systems, restorative practices, and social and emotional education with adolescents to reduce bullying and aggression and promote various dimensions of health and wellbeing. The program includes all-school staff trainings, restorative practices delivered by staff and specialized restorative practices for more serious behavior problems, action group meetings comprised of students and staff, and teacher-delivered lessons on social and emotional skills. The program lasts three years, during grades 8-10.

Whole-school interventions are aimed at modifying overall school policies and systems to enhance student engagement; restorative practices aim to prevent or resolve conflicts between students or between school staff and students; and social and emotional education lessons aim to teach students needed skills to regulate their emotions and relationships.

Outcomes

In Study 1, Bonell et al. (2018) found that, compared to the control group, schools in the intervention group showed significantly improved

  • Bullying victimization
  • Overall quality of life
  • Total difficulties
  • Total well-being
  • Smoking habits
  • Alcohol habits
  • Illicit drug habits and contact
  • Contact with police

Brief Evaluation Methodology

In Study 1, Bonell et al. (2018) used a clustered experimental design to examine 7,121 students in 40 secondary schools. Schools were randomly assigned to either the intervention group or the control group. Students were pretested in the spring of year seven, with a 24-month follow-up in the spring of year nine, and a 36-month follow-up in spring of year ten. The primary outcome measures included self-reported bullying and aggression, while a diverse set of secondary outcome measures included self-reported well-being, conduct problems, substance use, and police contacts.

Blueprints Certified Studies

Study 1

Bonell, C., Allen, E., Warren, E., McGowan, J., Bevilacqua, L., Jamal, F., . . . Viner, R. M. (2018). Effects of the Learning Together intervention on bullying and aggression in English secondary schools (INCLUSIVE): A cluster randomised controlled trial. Lancet, 392(10163), 2452-2464. doi:10.1016/s0140-6736(18)31782-3


Risk and Protective Factors

Risk Factors

Individual: Antisocial/aggressive behavior, Bullies others, Early initiation of antisocial behavior, Early initiation of drug use, Favorable attitudes towards antisocial behavior, Favorable attitudes towards drug use, Physical violence, Stress, Substance use, Victim of bullying*

Peer: Interaction with antisocial peers, Peer rewards for antisocial behavior, Peer substance use

School: Low school commitment and attachment

Protective Factors

Individual: Academic self-efficacy, Clear standards for behavior, Coping Skills, Prosocial behavior, Prosocial involvement, Skills for social interaction

School: Opportunities for prosocial involvement in education


* Risk/Protective Factor was significantly impacted by the program

See also: Learning Together Logic Model (PDF)

Race/Ethnicity/Gender Details

Race/Ethnicity/Gender Details
The study found stronger effects for boys than girls on some of the secondary outcomes.

Training and Technical Assistance

Accredited trainers provide a basic 2-hour training for all teaching staff and an in-depth 3-day training to staff identified as those who will lead on restorative practice sessions. A trainer also provides a 3-hour training in facilitation of action groups.

Benefits and Costs

Source: Washington State Institute for Public Policy
All benefit-cost ratios are the most recent estimates published by The Washington State Institute for Public Policy for Blueprint programs implemented in Washington State. These ratios are based on a) meta-analysis estimates of effect size and b) monetized benefits and calculated costs for programs as delivered in the State of Washington. Caution is recommended in applying these estimates of the benefit-cost ratio to any other state or local area. They are provided as an illustration of the benefit-cost ratio found in one specific state. When feasible, local costs and monetized benefits should be used to calculate expected local benefit-cost ratios. The formula for this calculation can be found on the WSIPP website.

Program Costs

Start-Up Costs

Initial Training and Technical Assistance

Accredited trainers provide a basic 2-hour training to all teaching staff and an in-depth 3-day training to staff identified as those who will lead on restorative practice sessions. The expense is $4,500 exclusive of trainer travel expenses. An additional 3-hour training for the external facilitator of the action groups is $600 and may be accomplished via Skype or phone.

Curriculum and Materials

The curriculum and materials are provided at no expense via email.

Licensing

NA

Other Start-Up Costs

Schools need to identify an external person with school management experience (e.g. a staff member from another local school or an education board member) who is prepared to attend action group meetings to act as a facilitator of student participation. Full guidance for this role is included in the manual.

Schools need to survey students in one year group (or grade level) per year using the anonymous INCLUSIVE baseline survey which is freely available.

Schools need to dedicate administrative time to data entry (approximate 5 minutes per student) and to dedicate a math teacher to run basic frequency statistics to produce a summary report (approximately 1 day per year) for the action group to discuss.

Basic training requires a room on school premises for all staff being trained for two hours. In-depth training requires a room on school premises for 5 staff being trained for 3 consecutive days.

Surveys can be undertaken in classrooms (one per class making up the year group/grade level) or in an examination hall (bringing together all the students in the year group/grade level) for 1 hour.

Intervention Implementation Costs

Ongoing Curriculum and Materials

NA

Staffing

Action groups require the attendance of approximately 6 school staff including one senior staff and one administrator to record actions.

Action groups also require the attendance of one external facilitator (e.g. a local school board member or other local school staff member) trained in facilitation methods.

Classroom lessons require 1 qualified teacher per 1 hour lesson for 5-10 lessons per year. Curriculum materials are self-explanatory and no training is required.

Restorative practice sessions require the involvement of one trained staff member for approximately one hour per session. Sessions are as required by the school determined by incidents at the school.

Other Implementation Costs

Action group meetings require a meeting room for 2-hour meetings 6 times per school year.

Curriculum requires classrooms for students for 5-10 1-hour lessons per year.

Restorative practice sessions typically require 1 private office for 1 hour per session. 

Implementation Support and Fidelity Monitoring Costs

Ongoing Training and Technical Assistance

Other than the training specified above, no training or external technical assistance is required and intervention materials are self-explanatory.

Fidelity Monitoring and Evaluation

Fidelity monitoring materials are freely available via email and require no training. Fidelity can be assessed manually using pen and paper records.

Ongoing License Fees

NA

Other Implementation Support and Fidelity Monitoring Costs

No information is available

Other Cost Considerations

No information is available

Year One Cost Example

In this example, a middle school adopts the Learning Together program. The only expense for the program is that of training. This example excludes trainer travel expenses, as those will be quite variable depending upon location.

Initial Training for School Staff $4,500.00
Training for External Facilitator $600.00
Total One Year Cost $5,100.00

Exclusive of trainer travel expenses, the cost for one school to implement the Learning Together program in Year One would be $5,100. The per school expense may potentially be reduced if multiple schools within a district adopt the program, and thus share the expense of trainer travel.

Funding Strategies


No information is available

Evaluation Abstract

Program Developer/Owner

Chris Bonell, Ph.D.ProfessorLondon School of Hygiene & Tropical MedicineKeppel Street, BloomsburyLondonWC1E 7HTUK+44 (0)20 7612 7918Chris.Bonell@lshtm.ac.uk

Program Outcomes

  • Alcohol
  • Antisocial-aggressive Behavior
  • Bullying
  • Conduct Problems
  • Delinquency and Criminal Behavior
  • Illicit Drug Use
  • Mental Health - Other
  • Sexual Risk Behaviors
  • Tobacco

Program Specifics

Program Type

  • Bullying Prevention
  • Restorative Justice
  • School - Environmental Strategies
  • Social Emotional Learning

Program Setting

  • School

Continuum of Intervention

  • Universal Prevention

Program Goals

A whole-school program that aims to improve the school environment to reduce bullying and aggression, and promote student health and wellbeing.

Population Demographics

Students ages 11-12 years in mainstream secondary schools with the intervention occurring over a 3-year period (grades 8-10 in the England; equating roughly to grades 6-8 or 7-9 in the United States).

Target Population

Age

  • Early Adolescence (12-14) - Middle School

Gender

  • Both

Race/Ethnicity

  • All

Race/Ethnicity/Gender Details

The study found stronger effects for boys than girls on some of the secondary outcomes.

Other Risk and Protective Factors

Limited attention of schools and teachers to promoting socio-emotional learning, improving communication among students, and devising ways to settle conflicts without aggression and bullying.

Risk/Protective Factor Domain

  • Individual
  • School

Risk/Protective Factors

Risk Factors

Individual: Antisocial/aggressive behavior, Bullies others, Early initiation of antisocial behavior, Early initiation of drug use, Favorable attitudes towards antisocial behavior, Favorable attitudes towards drug use, Physical violence, Stress, Substance use, Victim of bullying*

Peer: Interaction with antisocial peers, Peer rewards for antisocial behavior, Peer substance use

School: Low school commitment and attachment

Protective Factors

Individual: Academic self-efficacy, Clear standards for behavior, Coping Skills, Prosocial behavior, Prosocial involvement, Skills for social interaction

School: Opportunities for prosocial involvement in education


*Risk/Protective Factor was significantly impacted by the program

Brief Description of the Program

Learning Together is a school-based intervention grounded in schoolwide policies and systems, restorative practices, and social and emotional education with adolescents to reduce bullying and aggression and promote various dimensions of health and wellbeing. The program includes all-school staff trainings, restorative practices delivered by staff, specialized restorative practices for more serious behavior problems, action group meetings comprised of students and staff, and teacher-delivered lessons on social and emotional skills. The program lasts three years, during grades 8-10.

Description of the Program

Learning Together is a school-based intervention grounded in schoolwide policies and systems, restorative practices, and social and emotional education with adolescents to reduce bullying and aggression and promote various dimensions of health and wellbeing. The program includes all-school staff trainings, restorative practices delivered by staff and specialized restorative practices for more serious behavior problems, action group meetings comprised of students and staff, and teacher-delivered lessons on social and emotional skills. The program lasts three years, during grades 8-10.

Whole-school interventions are aimed at modifying overall school policies and systems to enhance student engagement; restorative practices aim to prevent or resolve conflicts between students or between school staff and students; and social and emotional education lessons aim to teach students needed skills to regulate their emotions and relationships.

Theoretical Rationale

By promoting young people's commitment to school and through this, their autonomy, motivation, and reasoning ability in ways that reduce bullying and aggression, adolescents can choose healthier behaviors that promote health and wellbeing. 

Theoretical Orientation

  • Restorative Justice
  • Person - Environment

Brief Evaluation Methodology

In Study 1, Bonell et al. (2018) used a clustered experimental design to examine 7,121 students in 40 secondary schools. Schools were randomly assigned to either the intervention group or the control group. Students were pretested in the spring of year seven, with a 24-month follow-up in the spring of year nine, and a 36-month follow-up in spring of year ten. The primary outcome measures included self-reported bullying and aggression, while a diverse set of secondary outcome measures included self-reported well-being, conduct problems, substance use, and police contacts.

Outcomes (Brief, over all studies)

In Study 1, Bonell et al. (2018) found the intervention students reported a significant reduction in self-reported bullying victimization after 36 months compared to control students. There was no change in overall student reports of perceptions of aggression at 36 months. The program also significantly improved several secondary outcomes such as overall quality of life, total difficulties, total well-being, ever smoked, ever drank alcohol, number of times drunk, offered illicit drugs, and contact with police.

Outcomes

In Study 1, Bonell et al. (2018) found that, compared to the control group, schools in the intervention group showed significantly improved

  • Bullying victimization
  • Overall quality of life
  • Total difficulties
  • Total well-being
  • Smoking habits
  • Alcohol habits
  • Illicit drug habits and contact
  • Contact with police

Mediating Effects

Not examined.

Effect Size

In Study 1, Bonell et al. (2018) reported a very small significant adjusted effect size = -0.08 for the primary outcome of bullying.

Generalizability

Large student sample from 40 secondary schools in Southeast England that met basic quality standards

Potential Limitations

  • No reliability and validity information for sample
  • No baseline equivalence significance tests by study authors, but Blueprints calculations found differences to be minimal
  • Incomplete tests for differential attrition, but Blueprints calculations found differences to be minimal

Endorsements

Blueprints: Promising

Program Information Contact

Chris Bonell, Ph.D.
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
Keppel Street, Bloomsbury
London
WC1E 7HT
U.K.
Phone: +44 (0)20 7612 7918
Email: Chris.Bonell@lshtm.ac.uk

References

Study 1

Certified Bonell, C., Allen, E., Warren, E., McGowan, J., Bevilacqua, L., Jamal, F., . . . Viner, R. M. (2018). Effects of the Learning Together intervention on bullying and aggression in English secondary schools (INCLUSIVE): A cluster randomised controlled trial. Lancet, 392(10163), 2452-2464. doi:10.1016/s0140-6736(18)31782-3

Study 1

Evaluation Methodology

Design:

Recruitment: Participants were students aged 11-12 years in secondary schools in Southeast England. Out of the 490 unique schools invited to participate, 40 (8.2%) schools with 7,121 students joined the study. It is unclear how many parents refused to give consent for their child to participate in the intervention program, but 6,667 (93.6%) of students provided baseline data. The sample excluded schools that the UK national education inspectorate rated as poor/inadequate.

Assignment: After obtaining consent from head teachers and individual students, students were given the baseline survey, after which schools were assigned through stratified randomization to either the intervention group (school n = 20, student n = 3,605) or control group (school n = 20; student n = 3,516) based on key school-level determinants of violence. The control schools continued their programs as usual, with some having their own anti-bullying programs.

Assessments/Attrition: The baseline (pre-treatment) assessment occurred in spring 2014, when students neared the end of year 7. Follow-ups were administered at 24 months (the end of year 9) and 36 months (the end of year 10). The study added new students to the follow-ups but lost students leaving the schools or who were absent. Tables 2 and 3 show analysis samples of 6,290 at 24 months (88.3% of the randomized students) and 5,960 at 36 months (83.7% of the randomized students). In addition, the supplement (p. 35) shows missing data for particular outcomes ranging from about 1% to 19%.

Sample:

Across all schools, the mean school size was 1,084 students, an average of 35.5% of students were eligible for free school meals, 17.5% admitted only girls, 7.5% admitted only boys, and 75.0% admitted both girls and boys. The schools included a mix of private and public types and a mix of quality (with 62.5% having a quality rating of "good").

Across all student participants, the average age was 12 years, 47.3% were male, 39.7% were White-British, 8.6% were White-other, 25.0% were Asian or Asian British, 14.0% were Black or Black British, 0.7% were Chinese or Chinese British, 7.0% were Mixed ethnicity, and 5.1% were other ethnicities. Regarding family structure, 72.0% of students had two parents, 18.6% had single mothers, 1.4% had single fathers, 6.8% had a reconstituted (blended) family structure, and 1.2% had other family structures.

Measures:

The primary outcome measures in this study were self-reported experience of bullying victimization measured at 36 months, which used the Gatehouse Bullying Scale, and self-reported perception of aggression measured at 36 months, which used the Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime school misbehavior subscale. The Gatehouse Bullying Scale is a validated scale that contains 12 items measuring teasing, name-calling, rumors, being left out of things, and physical threats or actual violence from other students within the past 3 months. The Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime school misbehavior subscale includes 13 items that measure self-reported aggression towards other students and teachers. No estimates of reliability or validity for the sample were reported. The research team collecting the data was masked to condition and independent of the intervention team.

In addition to the primary measures, the study included 15 secondary measures. Of most importance, the bullying and aggression scales that were designated as primary measures at 36 months were treated as secondary measures at 24 months. Other secondary measures came at 36 months. These measures, all self-reported by subjects, included quality of life, strengths and difficulties, well-being, sexual behavior, smoking, alcohol use, illicit drug use, visits to health services, and contact with police. The study provided no details on validity or reliability.

Analysis: The effect of the intervention was tested using separate mixed models with the outcomes from each timepoint (including the baseline) treated as a repeated measure. The two primary outcomes were analyzed using mixed linear regression models with random effects at both the school and student levels. Continuous outcomes were tested using unadjusted and adjusted mean differences; binary and ordinal outcomes were tested using unadjusted and adjusted odds ratios. The key tests came from comparing the condition differences in predicted outcomes at 24 months and 36 months.

Intent-to-Treat: The primary analyses followed an intent-to-treat approach by using all students with available data, including those with data for only one or two of the three time points.

Outcomes

Implementation Fidelity: Implementation fidelity in the first two years was measured out of eight points for each school; in the third year, fidelity was measured out of four points. Implementation fidelity varied between schools and over time, and there was a reduction in the fidelity of formal intervention activities in the third year. In the first and second years, the median fidelity score was 6 out of 8, whereas for the third year the median was 1 out of 4.

Baseline Equivalence: The study presented baseline condition means for both school and student characteristics in Table 1 and the supplement (pp. 6-9). The figures used all 40 schools and about 94% of the randomized student sample with baseline data. The tables did not present significance tests, but the authors stated, "Student and school characteristics and outcomes at baseline were well balanced across arms." Blueprints calculations tested for significant differences and the standardized size of the differences (using figures in Table 1 and page 8 of the supplement) and found baseline differences to be minimal. For student-level data, the large sample size of over 6,000 meant many of the condition differences were significant. However, the standardized differences never exceeded .16 and exceeded .10 only five times in more than 70 comparisons.

Differential Attrition: The supplement (pp. 6-7) examined differential attrition by listing condition means for demographic characteristics - but not baseline outcomes - across three samples: the baseline sample (94% of the randomized sample), the 24-month sample (88% of the randomized sample), and the 36-month sample (84%). The tables present no significance tests, but the study states that "the numbers of students who completed the questionnaires at baseline, 24 months, and 36 months were similar in each group." Blueprints calculations tested for significant condition differences and the standardized size of the differences for the sociodemographic measures using the baseline, 24-month, and 36-month samples. Differences were found to be minimal. Although the large sample size meant many of the condition differences were significant, Cohen's d values were uniformly small, never exceeding .14, and differed little across the three assessments.

Posttest: The analyses showed significant condition differences at 36 months (conclusion of the intervention) for one of two primary outcomes: bullying victimization but not aggression. Out of the fifteen secondary outcomes, eight were significantly improved by the intervention: overall quality of life, total difficulties, total well-being, ever smoked, ever drank alcohol, time drunk, offered illicit drugs, and contact with police.

Tests for moderation showed stronger effects for boys than girls and for those with higher rather than lower baseline bullying experience, but these differences applied to only a few secondary outcomes.

Long-Term: Although students were followed for three years, the program was ongoing during the study period.