Year K - 12

Better Buddies

  • Overview

    Sandra Craig and Maree Stanley
    Year level(s)
    1 - 6
    Who is this for?
    Children/Students, Parents/Carers, Primary teachers and staff
    Who is this from?
    Primary school teachers and staff
    Mentally Healthy Communities
    Primary School
    Bullying and cyber safety, Connectedness and relationships

    One of the most common forms of violence in the lives of children is bullying. In Australia it affects approximately one student in every four. Bullying can have a devastating effect on a child.  In addition, children who portray bullying behaviours are more likely to commit anti-social behaviour and criminal acts.

    The Alannah & Madeline Foundation's Better Buddies Framework is an initiative designed to create friendly and caring primary school communities where bullying is reduced.
    Through Better Buddies, children in their first and last year of primary school buddy up and learn the values: caring for others, friendliness, respect, valuing difference, including others and responsibility. All children in the school learn these values through formal and informal activities, including their interactions with the mascot Buddy Bear, our giant, fun-loving and caring purple bear.

    Better Buddies enables younger children to feel safe and cared for while older children feel valued and respected. It is designed to enhance existing buddy programs or introduce a buddy program to primary schools for the first time. The evidence-based framework complements existing school welfare programs, is easy to implement and links to national curriculum initiatives.

    $2,200 + GST self funded or sponsorship option, please check availability
    Victoria, New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory, Queensland, Northern Territory, South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania
    Alannah & Madeline Foundation
    1/256 Clarendon St, South Melbourne, 3205, VIC
    Phone number
    03 9696 0666
  • Implementation

    Detailed description

    Better Buddies works by pairing students in their first year of primary school with an older buddy, to help the younger students feel safe, valued and connected to their school community.

    Better Buddies has been designed as a curriculum resource for primary schools, to help schools enhance their existing buddy program or introduce a new buddy system into the school.

    Buddy systems teach, and give children the opportunity to practise, the important values of respect, care, valuing difference, responsibility, friendship and including others.  Through looking after and caring for smaller, vulnerable children who are just starting school, older children learn the skills associated with empathy and compassion through activities in the classroom and in the playground. This helps combat bullying and other forms of antisocial behaviour such as harassment and teasing. Teaching pro-social values and skills can also contribute to the development of resilience, a protective factor for children if they experience hardship or loss.

    Better Buddies enables younger children to feel safe and cared for while older children feel valued and respected.

    A buddy program can strengthen the school community and help to challenge stereotypes, misconceptions or fears that students hold about younger or older age groups. 
    A buddy system can also help students to feel valued and supported, teach important social skills and create a caring ethos in the school. They can create connectedness that enables both older and younger buddies to bond more closely with their school, thereby increasing the likelihood of more positive social behaviour.

    It has been suggested that when students feel connected to their school, they also feel valued and safe and less likely to either bully or be bullied. Buddy systems help reduce negative behaviours such as bullying.

    Program structure & method delivery

    Program structure

    The Better Buddy Framework is easy to implement and allows teachers to tailor Better Buddies to suit their school, train students to be buddies and source ideas for buddy activities.

    The Better Buddies Framework training manual consists of 10 sections covering Introduction, Planning, Implementation, Sustaining, Activities, Information for Parents, Community & Volunteer Involvement, and background to Better Buddies.

    A range of flexible activities and lesson ideas support the implementation of the Framework. Activities are grouped under the following curriculum areas which are linked to the new Australian Curriculum:

    • Health and Personal Development (13 activities)
    • Literacy (9 activities)
    • Numeracy (5 activities)
    • Arts (9 activities)
    • Science (3 activities)
    • Technology (6 activities)
    • eSmart Schools (1 activity)
    • Just for Fun (9 activities)

    Each suggested activity is outlined in the manual and classified as appropriate for outdoor, lunch time, online or interactive delivery. It also details whether volunteers are needed, the benefits for younger and older buddies and the social skills and values learned.

    Method of delivery

    Once registered as a Better Buddies school, you will be provided with access to  the Better Buddies website.  A unique school password and log in will be emailed to the nominated Better Buddies Coordinator to allow teachers at your school to access Better Buddies information.

    Resources will also be published on the website as they are developed and become available. A Better Buddies Kit consists of:

    • Introduction and rationale
    • Implementation ideas
    • Information for parents
    • Training for senior buddies
    • Buddy activities and templates
    • Better Buddies Framework (includes PowerPoint for staff/parents and notes, as well as a copy of the Framework Activities for you to share with those teachers involved in Better Buddies)
    • A Better Buddies teacher puppet
    • A Buddy Bear
    • Two Better Buddies posters for display in your school
    • 50 Buddy Bears for your school

    The Better Buddies Framework is designed for the buddy concept to be embedded within a school’s overall program as part of its focus on wellbeing. The buddy session is held once a week or once a fortnight. It takes a unit of classroom time (45 minutes, approximately). During this session older and younger children share a classroom under the supervision of a teacher, and undertake meaningful, planned and cooperative activities. Online interactive content and videos also feature in several of the activities and link in with the eSmart Schools behaviour-change framework.

    At key points during the year, special activity days known as Better Buddies Key Events draw attention to the different foci of the Framework: Better Buddies Welcome, Better Buddies Games, Better Buddies Book Week and Better Buddies Celebration (transition of the older children to secondary school). These are the key points at which the program developers anticipate the involvement of parents and other family members and volunteers. These can also be used to encourage whole-school involvement, and an additional focus on the development of social skills and cooperation.

    Student assessment measures


    Professional learning compulsory


  • Evidence

    Identified theoretical framework

    The evidence-based framework complements existing school welfare programs, is easy to implement and links to national curriculum initiatives.

    The underlying theoretical framework of the Better Buddies Framework is based on several theories of education, including social and emotional learning, positive psychology, social learning theory, situated learning and multiple intelligences.

    An independent, national survey on Better Buddies found children, teachers and school communities benefit immensely from the Framework. 95% of principals said Better Buddies has helped create a friendly and caring school community. 97% of teachers said Better Buddies has assisted students in their transition to school.

  • Authors


    Sandra Craig and Maree Stanley

    About author(s)

    Sandra Craig (B.A., Dip Ed, Post Grad Dip Education and Training (Curriculum), M. Ed. University of Melbourne, M.Ed Monash University) at the Alannah & Madeline Foundation. Sandra redeveloped The Better Buddies Framework, and collaborated with the writing of the Activities and Training Manual. She has taught at Deakin University, was involved in the Safe Schools are Effective Schools research, and has worked with Dr Helen McGrath in an evaluation of the Department of Education’s It’s Not OK to be Away attendance strategy. Sandra was also a leading teacher in secondary schools for 30 years and was Manager of the National Centre Against Bullying (NCAB), an initiative of the Alannah & Madeline Foundation.

    Maree Stanley (Diploma of Teaching (Primary), Graduate Certificate of Education, Grad Dip Library and Information Technology, MEd.) was the Manager, Better Buddies Program at the Alannah & Madeline Foundation. Maree sat on the Advisory Council of NCAB. Maree was a practising teacher for more than 20 years and developed the original concept of Better Buddies. Maree co-ordinates across Australia and communities with her counterparts in Denmark.