It's Friday afternoon at Kaleen Primary School in Canberra but a group of studious 12-year-olds are still crunching the numbers on the most important maths problem of the week: which class is leading the school tally?
In a system that calls to mind the Hogwarts House Cup from the fictional world of Harry Potter, students can earn tokens for embodying Kaleen's values of safety, respect and scholarship (if not quite spellmanship). And, when those containers start to overflow, the kids end up in a good bargaining position - negotiating rewards with teachers such as a silly wig day or extended recess.
Kaleen is one of 51 ACT public schools now implementing the Positive Behaviours for Learning (PBL) program - a "whole of school" model for stamping out unsafe behaviour through positive reinforcement exported over from the US.
In states like NSW and WA, it's already been in place for more than a decade and a report from the ACT education minister's advisory panel has now backed early results in the capital, encouraging the government to ramp up both its roll-out and resources.
But the panel also echoed calls for further policy review from a recent joint-party inquiry into school violence - including the suggested creation of a portal where students can log incidents directly.
Responding to both reports on Wednesday, the government failed to commit to a student portal or the publication of incident data to the broader community. But it did agree to redesign its existing complaints system for families and review its overarching safety policy.
Minister Yvette Berry said her advisory panel had reassured her that the government was on the right track with PBL, noting its observation that the model was a cultural shift rather than one particular practice, but nonetheless shouldn't be "diluted" by additional approaches too soon.
How PBL looks on the ground varies across campuses - one high school encourages its students to "check in" each morning with an emoji reflecting their mood. Others have set up separate sensory hubs for students to calm down or ask for help.
It takes about three to five years to properly "bed down" in a school community, and education officials say at least 80 per cent of staff must be on board before they press go.
At Kaleen, principal Chris Shaddock says PBL has been a big shift for teachers but is now part of the wallpaper - literally.
Bright posters outline the rules agreed between students and staff for each area of the campus, such as moving slowly in the hall or speaking softly in the library.
Year 6 student Alexis Cofinas says the signs make it easier to keep his mates in line.
"You can just point at the sign and say 'Dude, what are you doing?" he says.
"When you get a lot of tokens, it feels good. It's fun. Our [kindy] buddies get really excited."
While Mr Shaddock swears there are no signs yet of a thriving underground trade in the tokens ("the kids are really honest"), he says major incidents at the school have plummeted by about 65 per cent in a year.
"There's the old saying if a child can't do maths, you teach them maths but if they can't behave, you punish them. Well, we're teaching them."
In that spirit, Mr Shaddock admits he will even don a feathered chicken costume on occasion to demonstrate what not to do.
"Don't be like Cheeky Chicken," the saying goes.
"But only I'm allowed to do the bad things - for educational purposes of course," he laughs.
Minister Berry convened her advisory panel in March to examine PBL while facing down calls for an expert inquiry into school violence policies.
A community petition, off the back of revelations in The Canberra Times that some students had been repeatedly left in harms' way, eventually triggered a separate assembly inquiry.
But on Wednesday, Ms Berry did not commit to its recommendation for more psychologists and youth workers in schools. Instead, she agreed to explore how to make it easier for students to change schools after falling victim to violence or bullying and signalled investigation into how best to make personal protection orders enforceable in the schoolyard.
Shadow education spokeswoman Elizabeth Lee slammed the minister's response as lukewarm.
"Our schools are not a customer service hotline where improving the complaints system is going to be the fix all," she said.
"This ignores the anguish of parents [and the] concerns of so many teachers and students."
Despite loud calls for a mobile phone ban in other states, including NSW, the minister's panel found such a policy was unlikely to reduce violence or bullying in schools, as students would likely find a way around it.
While both reviews noted violence in schools was not widespread, the inquiry heard harrowing stories of its toll on families - in some cases due to failures in reporting, communication or procedure.
An incoming IT system upgrade is expected to improve incident reporting and centralise violence data, which is still not kept at a government level.
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