Implementing the program

The process of implementation in the school is assisted by a locally recruited and specially trained instructor who also may be an advisor to the school in the continuation

The implementation model

For a little more than there terms, usually starting in May and running through December the following year (depending on the organization of the academic year in the country), the school goes through the implementation period.

In May the first year, the web-based Olweus Student Survey is taken by all students from third grade and up to obtain a baseline for the prevalence of bullying, as well as multiple other measures of student well-being, attitudes towards abuse and observations of faculty /staff and fellow students behaviour in bullying-like situations. The survey will be repeated on a yearly basis to measure changes in bullying and the other dimensions, and it is later included in the Quality Assurance System for the Olweus program

From September the first year, all faculty and staff spend 75 minutes of their working hours per week for the educational project in the Olweus program. The Study- and Supervision Groups (SSGs) are the backbone of the educational project for the adult community in the school. Each group consists of no more than 15 participants, and they meet for 90 minutes every other week. The meetings have a clear structure. Two group leaders per group present study material in a structured fashion, which the participants also have read for themselves in preparation for the meeting. The presentation is followed by discussion and exemplifications. Films and other AV material are used. Peer-supervision is introduced as the groups become more confident, to explore the participants’ own challenging experiences of the anti-bullying work.

Organization in the school

For each Study- and Supervision Group there are to be appointed two leaders, who will receive specific training by a qualified Olweus instructor. In addition to the SSG leaders, the school will appoint a Coordinator for the Olweus program. This person will have practical tasks associated with the program, like managing the student and later faculty/staff surveys, and making sure that all faculty/staff has their study materials.

The Instructor

A key agent in the implementing of the Olweus program is the instructor. This is commonly a person recruited from within the school or school administration in the region, or from the owner organization if the school is not a public school.

The school can ask to be assisted by an already trained Olweus instructor in the region, if available. It is recommended that an existing instructor is used, as this person will have previous experience with the implementation process, and the school or community need not take the costs of training a new instructor.

Those who can become instructors are people with a thorough knowledge of the school system, preferably from having been a teacher over a period of many years. The person needs to be comfortable with instructing adults, and should be well regarded among school faculty, staff and school leaders in general. Instructors-to-be should be selected with great care, and the selection should be made by local school authorities in collaboration with Olweus International Ltd.. Factors to be considered are, in addition to the personal qualities mentioned above:

  • Will the instructor have schools in which to supervise the implementation from the time he/she starts their own training?
  • Will the instructor be able to establish a close working relationship with the school owner?
  • Will the instructor be released from part of his/her current work load to engage in the tasks as Olweus-instructor – also for other schools? (We estimate approx. 10% of the work load for the instructor if he/she supports implementation in one school, and an additional 5% for each extra school.
  • Will the instructor be able to assist implementation in more than one school at a time?
  • Will the instructor (most likely) be able to supervise the implementation in other schools after the initial three terms?
  • Will the instructor (most likely) be able to offer support to the schools after the implementation period for several years to come?

The two last points can naturally be difficult to answer precisely, but training an instructor is costly, and if the person only will serve one school in his time as Olweus-instructor, the economy might soon be a problem. Instructors also get “better” as they gain experience, so one should clearly plan for several schools, and several rounds of implementation in the area.

Training of the instructor

Training programs for Olweus instructors have so far been completed in Norway, Iceland, Sweden and Lithuania as well as in the US. Altogether around 450 instructors have been trained in the four European countries since 2001, and new instructor training groups are formed in these countries and elsewhere.

A large regional or national project

In some countries or regions, larger Olweus implementation projects have been completed. The design of such projects may vary, but the typical layout is as follows:

Starting as a pilot project in one or more regions, the training of instructors is run as a parallel activity alongside implementation of the program in connected schools. The instructor-candidates guides the implementation of the Olweus program in one or more schools as a part of their own training activities, always staying but a few weeks ahead of their schools. The instructor training typically starts in April; the schools undertake their surveys and first organizing tasks for the implementation in May the same year.

The instructor training consists of 11 days of full time workshops. In addition to that, the instructor candidates are receiving three days of counselling by videoconference, and they are followed up by email and on telephone. The candidates are supplied with an extensive package of training materials, from scientific and popular articles, handouts from the lectures given at the workshops, annotated literature lists, sample materials from other schools in the program, and selected audio-visual material for preparations to the next workshop and for self study. A typical schedule for the workshops will be as follows:

Schedule for instructor training workshops

April 2 days • Brief overview of Olweus’ knowledge-base and research

  • Brief overview of Olweus program and school activities
  • Detailed walkthrough of organizing activities in the schools before summer, and the contact with the school leaders
  • Detailed instructions regarding the student survey on bullying which typically will be taken during May

August 3 days • Thorough walkthrough of the components of the program

  • Detailed instructions prior to the teaching the instructors will give to the SSG leaders shortly thereafter
  • Assistance in interpreting and presenting the spring survey

October 2 days • In-depth workshop on establishing and running the SSG’s, with role-play and case discussions

  • Handling of resistance and compliance issues among the faculty/staff

February 2 days • In-depth workshop on the work with the students in general, class/group meetings, and –rules

  • In-depth workshop on intervening in bullying and other aggressive episodes among the students
  • Detailed instructions and discussions on working with parents

September 2 days • Assistance in interpreting the second survey among the students and the survey among faculty/staff members

  • In-depth discussions and counselling regarding keeping up the energy after the first demanding year of the program
  • In-depth workshop on establishing the schools written procedures regarding handling of suspected and detected bullying
  • Detailed walkthrough of the quality assurance program


The workshops are mixtures of lectures, group discussions, role-playing and exercises; along with passes of peer-counselling based on the participants own material. Feed-back to the group of the participants experience with their work since last workshop is also included as a start-up procedure at every workshop.

Usually held in a shielded place like a conference centre or the like where lunch and coffee-breaks are spent together, the workshops are essential to the qualifying process for the instructors-to-be, and they are naturally expected to attend all workshop for the full time. Candidates will have to complete their lost time at workshops elsewhere at a later time.

The workshops are led by two highly qualified senior teachers from Olweus International Ltd., the organization which handles Olweus program implementations outside Norway and North and South America. The trainers at Olweus International Ltd. work in close collaboration and under supervision of professor Dan Olweus and his research team.

Upon completion the instructors are certified and may work as such for a period of five years before supplemental training will be required.

Training master instructors

Under national or regional project with several rounds of instructor trainings by Olweus International Ltd., a small group of instructors will be selected and given extra training to take over the tasks of further instructor training in the region when necessary. They will also have assignments connected with certification of schools under the Olweus System for Quality Assurance after implementing has been completed. This should be organized in collaboration with a regional or national center for pedagogy / school psychology, a teaching college or other relevant public authority.

Instructor tasks

The Olweus instructor is to be used as a coach, a supervisor, or a specialized consultant in the field of schools countering bullying and other forms of antisocial behaviour. As such, the instructor is never to take over the responsibility for student safety or the practical work from the school. Basically, the instructor trains the SSG leaders and the coordinator for their tasks (a total of five days during the year and half). Also, the instructor gives occasional lectures and presentations for the whole faculty and staff in meetings, and at parent meetings in the school. The instructor also visits the SSGs to ensure they get comfortable with their process. The instructor will also act as an advisor to the school principal when the school experiences demanding bullying and other cases of antisocial behaviour. We strongly advice the schools and school owner to make sure the schools can continue their contact with the instructor after the implementation period on a consulting basis, common time demands are 25-30 hours per academic year.

Organizing an Olweus implementation

As described above, the instructor has a central role in implementing the Olweus program in a school. But let us point out: The instructor is dependent on the one side on an effective organization in the school or schools he or she will work with, and on the other side on a clear commitment from the school owner or owners, usually located in a municipal / public administration or a large private organisation

These are the interdependent relationships in the Olweus-organisation:

  • School owner (Public authority/ municipal administration/ organization)
  • Instructor
  • School (Principal and Olweus-coordinator)
  • Study- and Supervision Group leaders


The school owner (first bullet above) must commit to implementing the Olweus-program, and set aside resources primarily in the form of faculty / staff resources (time) during the implementation period, and also to a more moderate extent, in the years to come. Experience shows that where school owners fail to do this, or have not wholeheartedly wanted the program, the effort has not given the expected results.


The costs for and Olweus implementation will consist of three main components:

  • The time spent by the whole school faculty and staff
  • The costs for instructor training if an already trained instructor is unavailable
  • The costs for instructor time in the school (training SSG leaders and other assistance)
  • The costs for the program manuals, other materials and web access for surveys


The time spent by the faculty and staff (studying, giving/receiving supervision, and performing in the program) should be within working hours. The Olweus model does not support using faculty’s / staff’s free time to undergo the necessary competence build-up and procedure follow-up prescribed in the program. An estimation of 75 minutes as an average per working week from September (one month into the academic year) and for three semesters onward is to be used during the implementation phase.

The Study- and Supervision Group leaders and the coordinator should be given another 30 minutes per working week for the whole period from August – December (three terms) plus an extra five full days for the specific training they will receive from the instructor.

The instructor should be relieved 10% of his/her workload or given a corresponding compensation for supervising one school, and an extra 5% for each additional school.

The costs for setting up a training program will need to be negotiated with Olweus International Ltd. in each case, depending on the division of labour between a local / national coordinating group and Olweus International Ltd.. The latter may provide training, lectures, supervision and support related to the instructor-tasks targeting the first group of schools these instructors will assist. It also includes all materials, written and electronic as well as the instructors’ access to the Olweus dataweb.

All faculty / staff members of the participating schools will need their own program handbook, a textbook and schools will need copies of other materials (Video/audio). The prices and the availability of the material in regions not already using the program must be negotiated.

(Updated September 5th 2012)

This text may be downloaded as a pdf document