Critical success factors for building school capacity to engage parents in school-based bullying prevention interventions

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Exercise and Health Sciences


Faculty of Computing, Health and Science

First Advisor

Professor Donna Cross

Second Advisor

Ms Therese Shaw


It is evident in current health promotion literature that capacity building is advocated as
a future priority for action for health promoters in designing effective interventions.
Although theory and definitions, and therefore the practice of capacity building is
criticised for its ambiguity, common elements include the development of knowledge,
skills, commitment, structures, systems and leadership. Capacity building must be
multileveled working at the individual, organisational, community and system levels.
Capacity building is centred in the process of implementation and its methods are about
ways to improve intervention implementation to achieve sustainable health outcomes.
Given the limited resources available to health and other sectors to improve health
outcomes, mechanisms that improve implementation and sustain and multiply the health gains which result from these interventions are crucial. However, little empirical
research on the implementation and evaluation of capacity building approaches exists,
hence hindering its practical application to health promotion interventions.

It is well accepted that the success of school health promotion interventions are
dependent on effective implementation and that many barriers prevent schools from
embracing the recommended whole school approach. It is clear that school health
promotion interventions aiming to address priority health issues must adopt a capacity
building approach to improve implementation efforts or risk failure. Effective capacity
building in schools, however, goes beyond the skills training of individuals to
assessment of structures, processes, resources and leadership within the school system
to support teachers, parents and students to implement sustainable strategies over the
longer term. No matter what the level of enthusiasm or commitment is provided by
school leaders and staff, unless their school has the necessary capacity supports in place, their efforts will have limited success on student outcomes.

Whilst schools in general know they must adopt a comprehensive approach that
involves the whole school community to be an effective health promoting environment
for their students, most find engaging parents in their activities challenging. Evidence
suggests the important influence parents can have on their children’s healthy lifestyle
choices and how this at-home influence, partnered with whole school and classroom
strategies are vital in providing health promoting environments for children.

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