Collaborative Practices and Partnerships

The implementation of PW–PBS is based on the development of collaborative practices and partnerships, at multiple levels, among educational stakeholders

Key Points: For a successful and enduring Programme–Wide Positive Behaviour Support (PW–PBS) implementation, collaborative efforts involving stakeholders at all levels, from classrooms to the community, are crucial. An engaged, collaborative workforce forms the foundation of the PW–PBS approach. In ECEC settings, effective communication, collaborative atmosphere, and democratic leadership promote consistency in pedagogical strategies and practices. Engagement and consistency stem from shared visions and goals regarding the support of socioemotional development for both children and professionals (please see our PBS–ECEC Key Resources section). Therefore, all PW–PBS phases – assessment, training, and implementation – should involve all professionals and families.

Recognising the interconnectedness of children’s socioemotional learning (SEL) with their overall development and learning, it is paramount for ECEC settings to proactively seek community partnerships and foster sustainable connections with families, academic experts, researchers, other specialists/therapists, and policymakers. ECEC practitioners and specialists may conduct detailed assessments to enhance professionals’ and families’ understanding of each child’s strengths and needs to integrate tailored strategies into daily routines. Further, partnerships facilitate professional development opportunities for ECEC professionals. Long-term, multi-system collaborations at several ecological levels throughout children´s educational pathways ensure efficient resource organisation, equity, consistency, and educational continuity.

Voices of professionals and educational stakeholders from PBS–ECEC

“(…) no matter how demanding the programme and working conditions are, it is through communication and cooperation between educators that the PW–PBS programme can be implemented. In our preschool, the collaboration was so important that became the common vision for our preschool. “Together we become better”, was the slogan (…). Good collaboration between educators helps each individual become a better professional and then this is passed on to the children.” (S., Greece)

“If we don’t have good leadership in earlier settings, then none of all these collaborative practices happen.” (K., Ireland)

What can be done to make a difference?

Strategy: Foster a collaborative approach in ECEC settings


  • Encourage open communication and collaboration among stakeholders. Professional preparation on teamwork, assertive communication, and problem-solving skills can facilitate cooperation. In addition, open channels ensure ongoing communication between professionals in ECEC settings.
  • Effective leadership practices involving regular and constructive information sharing, discussion of common philosophy and purpose, creation of shared goals and values, establishment of clear roles and expectations, and discussion of strategies and progress updates to ensure a consistent approach. Additionally, acknowledge successes, identify challenges collaboratively, and discuss appropriate strategies for effective interventions; then, evaluate practices and set new goals.
  • Promote collaborative problem-solving and the sharing of resources and expertise that results in a more cohesive and unified approach to behaviour support in ECEC settings and systems.
  • Allocate resources for joint professional development opportunities that focus on enhancing collaboration skills and understanding each other’s roles and expertise. In addition, there are opportunities for professionals to be actively involved in training and receive guidance from experts in PW–PBS through a collaborative and reflexive approach to professional development.

Strategy: Develop policies for ECEC settings that support collaborative practices and partnerships


  • Produce policy documents (e.g., curricula, curriculum guidelines, other legislation) that explicitly recognise the importance of team collaboration and institutional partnerships in the implementation of positive behaviour support and SEL.
  • Create mechanisms to promote collaboration among policymakers, researchers, administrators, professionals, and families. Additionally, encourage systematic discussions and exchange of perspectives and foster participation in decision-making processes to ensure alignment between policies, current research, and best practices.
  • Foster, encourage, and acknowledge ECEC centres and professionals who demonstrate effective collaboration in addressing socioemotional needs, including awards, grants, or professional development opportunities.
  • Use a data-driven approach (data sharing and analysis) that allows stakeholders to make informed decisions about strategies, interventions, and improvements in child development and behaviour management; standardised data collection tools and evaluation measures assess the effectiveness of collaborative interventions.
  • Explore co-location of mental health services within or near ECEC centres, enhancing communication and collaboration, while also incentivising resource sharing and professional consultation to address challenging behaviours and complex socioemotional issues.
  • Support working conditions that foster teamwork, staff wellbeing, and professional development opportunities.


What are the expected benefits and impact?

  1. Aligned strategies among educational stakeholders lead to improved quality in ECEC settings; well-structured collaboration practices align with broader educational goals related to wellbeing and holistic development.
  2. Collaboration among ECEC staff, mental health professionals, and other specialists creates a comprehensive and supportive approach to promote children’s socioemotional development, which addresses the whole child, ensures early intervention when needed, and lays the foundation for wellbeing and future success in school and life.
  3. Professionals benefit from increased commitment, improved wellbeing, and job satisfaction.
  4. A democratic leadership style, promoting open participation and mutual support within the team, has the potential to strengthen teamwork, and the involvement of the entire team results in better outcomes regarding SEL and prevention of behaviour challenges.
  5. A structured, collaborative training approach can encourage educators to adopt best practices in implementing PW–PBS, thus reducing the risk of misinterpretation or superficial implementation.
  6. Collaboration and shared learning among educators can lead to a supportive professional community dedicated to successful SEL initiatives: defining common guidelines and implementing real-world experimentation of strategies/practices. The experience gained from a shared collaborative approach can serve as a model for adapting initiatives to other educational contexts or for addressing different aspects of child development.

What practices show the way forward?

Shared purpose

In a large ECEC setting in Portugal, the leadership team, guided by clear institutional goals, systematically involved all professionals from the beginning of PW–PBS implementation, regardless of their different roles, in identifying a shared purpose. This concerted effort was built on open communication. For example, the leadership team started the process by involving the staff in the definition of their guiding values and desired behaviours. They also adapted training materials to effectively include, engage, and empower all staff members during training sessions. Furthermore, they collectively identified the necessary pedagogical strategies for achieving their pedagogical goals and the individual contributions of each professional to their daily tasks and activities. Staff members also received training on how to document and discuss daily challenges with their colleagues and make decisions based on agreed-upon practices and strategies. This fostered a sense of belonging and a collective direction that facilitated the implementation of PW–PBS strategies and helped create a positive school culture. These efforts required an investment in time for team meetings and tasks, as well as in improving communication skills and strategies among staff members.

Co-consultation model

A promising practice for promoting collaboration between ECEC staff and mental health professionals is the Co-Consultation Model. This approach encourages regular communication and collaboration between the two groups, enabling them to share expertise and work together to effectively support children’s socioemotional development. A co-consultation model includes: appointing a designated liaison within the ECEC centre; organising scheduled meetings between ECEC educators and mental health professionals; establishing specific goals and objectives for children’s socioemotional development and creating personalised action plans; sharing information (i.e., observations, concerns, and strategies); collaboratively addressing challenging behaviours or socioemotional issues; offering joint professional development opportunities; involving parents in the collaborative process; collecting data on the effectiveness of strategies and interventions; emphasising an inclusive approach that considers the diverse needs of all children; and fostering a culture of mutual respect. By working together, these professionals can create a comprehensive and holistic approach to promoting children’s socioemotional development, leading to improved outcomes for all children in ECEC centres.

Supporting evidence and resources

Key Resources

Needs assessment in four countries 

Krousorati, K., Grammatikopoulos, V., Agathokleous, A., Michaelidou, V., Szproch, A., O’Brien, M., Barros, S., Araújo, S., Santos, M., & Sousa, M. (2023). PBS–ECEC transnational consolidated report: Research findings for developing the guide on Positive Behaviour Support in early childhood

education and care.

A Guide for using PW-PBS in ECEC

Krousorati, K., Grammatikopoulos, V., Agathokleous, A., Michaelidou, V., Szproch, A., O’Brien, M., Araújo, S., Santos, M., Sousa, M., & Barros, S. (2023). PBS–ECEC guide on Positive Behaviour Support in early childhood and care in European countries.  

PBS-ECEC online modules

PBS–ECEC Consortium (n.d.). Implementing Positive Behaviour Support in early childhood education and care [MOOC].

Impact assessment study & recommendations

Szproch, A., O’Brien, M., Araújo, A., Santos, M., Oliveira, V., Barros, S., Otero-Mayer, A., Michaelidou, V., Agathokleous, A., Krousorati, K., & Grammatikopoulos, V. (2023). Report of the PBS–ECEC impact assessment study and practice recommendations. Result 3: Transnational Report.

Additional Resources

Cumming, T., Wong, S., & Logan, H. (2021). Early childhood educators’ well-being, work environments and ‘quality’: Possibilities for changing policy and practice. Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, 46(1), 50–65.     

Heikkinen, K.-M., Ahtiainen, R., & Fonsén, E. (2022). Perspectives on leadership in early childhood education and care centers through community of practice. SAGE Open, 12(2).      

Michael, D., Goutas, T., Tsigilis, N., Michaelidou, V., Gregoriadis, A., Charalambous, V., & Vrasidas, C. (2023). Effects of the universal Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports on collective teacher efficacy. Psychology in the Schools, 60, 3188–3205.    

National Center for Pyramid Model Innovations (n.d.). Coaching.  

National Center for Pyramid Model Innovations (n.d.). Leadership teams.    

Peleman, B,. Lazzari, A., Budginaitė, I., et al. (2018). Continuous professional development and ECEC quality: Findings from a European systematic literature review. European Journal of Education,

Research, Development and Policy, 53, 9-22.     

Silva, I. L., Lourdes, L. M., & Rosa, M. M. (2016.)  Orientações Curriculares para a

Educação Pré-Escolar. [Curricular Guidelines for Preschool Education] Ministério da Educação/DireçãoGeral da Educação (DGE).