School psychologists provide services to students that address educational, social, emotional and behavioural needs, either individually or in groups. Working collaboratively with families, school communities and external agencies is integral to the role. School psychologists work proactively and responsively within the principles of a Promotion, Prevention and Early Intervention framework.
School psychologists are required to be registered with the Psychology Board of Australia and work within the ACT Education Act, the ACT Health Professionals Act and other relevant legislation.
How Can a School Psychologists Help
Psychologists have a range of skills that enable them to assist students, parents and teachers with issues that can affect the student's educational progress and adjustment including, for example:
- learning difficulties
- behaviour management
- disability education services
- social skills
- family relationships
- grief and loss
- personal development
- study skills
- protective behaviours
- transition across sectors
- secondary subject choice and career advice
- tertiary course options
- conflict resolution
- gifted and talented students
This may be achieved through:
- psycho educational assessment and recommendations for support
- counselling (individual and group)
- referrals to and liaison with community agencies and other professionals
- in-servicing and consulting with school staff
- parent liaison
- parent education and discussion groups
- curriculum development
- mediation and negotiation
- confidential discussions
How to Contact a School Psychologist?
Parents can contact their school psychologist directly at their child's school. The Assistant Manager and Senior Psychologist for the service can be contacted through Student Wellbeing.
Phone: (02) 6205 6925
ACT public schools are engaged in four regional networks. Each network has a multidisciplinary Network Student Engagement Team (NSET) who provide support to schools on a referral basis.
The purpose of each NSET is to work with schools and their staff to build their capacity to engage every student every day in meaningful relevant learning, enabling them to fulfil their potential.
This work may include students who have:
- a disability
- complex needs and challenging behaviour;
- poor attendance;
- complexity in their home lives;
- health and wellbeing issues;
- a history of trauma.
The work of NSET aims to complement other supports available to schools including: support staff in schools (e.g. school psychologists, chaplains, youth support workers), community and government agencies and online and face-to face Professional Learning opportunities. The ACT Government has invested in a number of training courses to build the capability of teachers in ACT public schools to enable them to better support students, including students with disability and students who have experienced trauma.
NSET is an interdisciplinary team of professionals with a diverse skill set who are working collaboratively to build capacity within students, schools, and the community. They endeavour to increase engagement and improve student outcomes. Roles are underpinned by various legislations and policies including the Disability Discrimination ACT, Disability Standards for Education and Safe and Supportive Schools Policy.
The following is a list of roles within each NSET:
- NSET Principal/Manager (SLA): is the Senior Manager or Principal of the Network Student Engagement Teams.
- NSET Deputy Principals (SLB): there are 4 NSET Deputy Principals, one per network team.
- Hearing and Vision Support Partners: provide broad and targeted support in order to build schools’ capacity to better meet the needs of students with hearing and/or vision impairments. They may also provide targeted teaching support for students and teachers with hearing and/or vision complications. The Hearing and Vision teachers are supported by the Hearing and Vision School Leader C who is responsible for the overall management of the hearing and vision support services within NSET.
- Inclusion Officers (IO): support schools in building capacity: to positively engage students in learning; to support disengaged students with attendance issues and their families/carers to re engage in education; and to increase access and participation for students with disabilities and encourage inclusive practice. Inclusion Officers are also responsible for coaching and/or mentoring staff, delivering professional learning, collaborative development of behaviour plans, safety plans and risk assessments.
- Occupational Therapists (OT): work collaboratively with schools to improve a student’s participation in education and to help meet the educational needs of all students. They support schools around readiness for learning, building on the school environment, supporting safe use of equipment as well as supporting self-care skills and fine motor skill development. NSET Occupational Therapists collaborate with schools to support students, rather than through a traditional/individual therapy model. The Occupational Therapists are supported by the Allied Health Leader, Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy who is responsible for the overall clinical leadership of and planning for the professions within Education Directorate.
- Physiotherapist (PT): works collaboratively within the specialist schools to assist specialist schools to identify and understand student learning and participation needs and barriers to learning in the areas of mobility, specialised equipment, and therapeutic movement activities. The physiotherapist is supported by the Allied Health Leader, Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy who is responsible for the overall clinical leadership of and planning for the professions within Education Directorate.
- Speech Language Pathologists (SLP): aim to support schools in building their capacity to meet the educational needs of students with special needs in communication and/or mealtime. Speech Language Pathologists endeavour to establish strong collaborative partnerships with schools to develop and implement whole school or class-based approaches which improve communication, speaking and listening skills which lay the foundation for literacy and numeracy competencies. The Speech Language Pathologists are supported by the Allied Health Leader, Speech Language Pathology who is responsible for the overall clinical leadership of and planning for the profession within the Education Directorate.
- Allied Health Assistants: work under the supervision of the occupational therapists, physiotherapist, and speech and language pathologists to support the work of the allied health professionals. This includes implementing individual, small group and whole class programs, preparing resources and supporting the delivery of professional learning.
- Senior Psychologists (SP): provide supervision of school psychologists in their network, deliver professional learning, provide consultation or collaboration with schools or NSETs around students, psychometric assessments as well as providing critical incident support.
- Social Workers (SW): Social Workers work with students and their families to provide support, advocacy and mediation to improve student engagement in the school setting. Outcomes are achieved by collaborating with students and their families to set goals and remove or minimise any challenges or barriers that they may face. The Social Workers are supported by a Senior Social Worker who is responsible for the overall clinical leadership of and planning for the profession within the Education Directorate.
- Support at Preschool (SAP) Teachers: work with the school executive, preschool teachers, and support staff within the preschool to build capacity and develop the understanding, skills, and competencies of all staff to support the engagement and participation of children. The Support at Preschool teachers are supported by a Support At Preschool School Leader C who is responsible for the overall leadership of the Support At Preschool teaching team.
NSET aims to assist schools to build capability and capacity to ensure students at risk of disengaging with education have appropriate adjustments made to assist them to access learning and where necessary have appropriate referrals made for additional external support (in consultation with parents/ carers). This may include whole school, class and targeted programs, including coaching and mentoring of teachers, co-designing individualised student responses; case co-ordination support; professional learning; and reviewing funding for students with a disability.
School Youth Health Nurse Program
With a strong focus on health promotion and early intervention, the School Youth Health Nurse Program supports the health and wellbeing of students in secondary schools as they transition to adulthood. The objectives of the program are to promote positive health outcomes for young people and their families and to provide an opportunity to access a health professional in the school setting. Nurses are often the first point of contact for health matters, and play an important role in referring to appropriate health care providers.
School Youth Health Nurses:
- Provide individual health consultations for students
- Support health promotion activities in the school setting
- Provide health promoting small group work
- Are a resource for teachers teaching the health curriculum
- Provide consultation for families and the school community for health information, advice and support. School Youth Health Nurses are employed by ACT Health and supported by the Education Directorate. The service is currently operating in seven high schools across the ACT. For more information please phone 6205 7029 or email ETDStudentWellbeing@act.gov.au
Pastoral care refers to policy and practices fully integrated throughout the teaching and learning and structural organisation of a school to effectively meet the personal, social (wellbeing) and academic needs of students and staff.
Pastoral care promotes students' personal and social development and fosters positive attitudes. This is achieved through the quality of teaching and learning; through the nature of relationships amongst students, teachers and adults other than teachers; through arrangements for monitoring students’ overall progress (academic, personal and social); through specific pastoral and support systems; and through extra-curricular activities and the school’s ethos.
Our pastoral care programs assist students to develop positive self-esteem, healthy risk taking, goal setting and negotiation, thus enhancing resilience and developing a sense of social cohesion that together can improve their overall health and wellbeing.
Quality pastoral care focuses on the whole student (personal, social, and academic) and it engages all members of the school community as providers of pastoral care. It actively involves the community in consistent, comprehensive, multi-level activities which incorporate whole-school approaches, class or other group approaches, individual programs (early intervention), and casework.
National School Chaplaincy Program
The National School Chaplaincy Program (NSCP) is an Australian Government funded program. All ACT Government schools will cease participation in the NSCP at the end of Term 4, 2019. The NSCP funding will remain available to Catholic and Independent schools for the duration of the current NSCP agreement (2019-2022).
The focus of the NSCP is to support the emotional wellbeing of students by providing pastoral care services and strategies that support the emotional wellbeing of the broader school community.
Participation in the NSCP is voluntary for both schools and students. To be involved with the program, schools must have consulted their school community including the staff, students, school board and the relevant parent groups and they must have documented support for a chaplaincy service.
Under the NSCP, the appointed chaplain must have qualifications equivalent to or higher than the Certificate IV in Youth Work or Pastoral Care.Chaplains may be from any faith and do not proselytise or evangelise. They respect, accept and are sensitive to other people’s views, value and beliefs. All chaplains comply with the ACT laws and policies in relation to child protection matters.
- ACT Schools in the National School Chaplaincy Program (NSCP) as rolled over from the 2015-18 NSCP project agreement (21kb)
Professional learning for National School Chaplaincy Program Chaplains – responding to and preventing cyberbullying
As part of the Project Agreement for the NSCP 2019-2022, NSCP funded chaplains are required to complete a three hour online professional learning package (PLP) aimed at responding to and preventing cyberbullying. The PLP, developed and delivered by the Office of the eSafety Commissioner, is now available to NSCP school chaplains from July 2019 for a period of 18 months. The eSafety PLP provides evidence-based, targeted advice on preventing and responding to cyberbullying. The program covers the latest online safety research, case studies and strategies to assist School Chaplains to integrate online safety into their student wellbeing programs and intervention. NSCP funded chaplains can register for the training now at https://esafety.gov.au/nscpchaplain.
Further information is available on the Commonwealth Department of Education’s website at https://www.education.gov.au/national-school-chaplaincy-program or in the ACT National School Chaplaincy Program Guidelines. If you would like further information or have any concerns about the chaplaincy services provided in your school, please contact the school principal.
If further information is required, please contact Student Wellbeing.
Phone: (02) 6205 9078.
The Education Directorate Dress Standards and Uniforms in Canberra Public Schools policy, procedure and guideline provide direction and advice to schools in developing and implementing school based student dress standards.
A school’s dress standard plays an important role in promoting a positive image of the school and creating a sense of identity among students.
Each ACT public school has a dress standard which for primary and high schools involves a school uniform. In high schools this includes a formal style option, which may be the sole uniform option or offered alongside a less formal option.
The wearing of school uniforms by students can assist to:
- contribute to building school pride and school identity within the community
- develop students' sense of belonging to the school community
- enhance the health and safety of students when involved in school activities
- make school clothing more affordable for families by eliminating the risk of peer pressure to wear transiently fashionable and expensive clothes
Each ACT public school, in conjunction with their school board, develops and implements school student dress standards policy and procedures in partnership with the school community. Primary and high schools will develop strategies to provide affordable options for families and ensure that uniforms are suitable for all students regardless of gender identity, preferred presentation, ethnicity, religion, age, disability, pregnancy or body shape. A key principle for the development of a school based uniform procedure, is school uniforms should promote freedom of choice for all students by categorising options by clothing type, rather than gender.
To view the Dress Standards and Uniforms in Canberra Public Schools Policy and supporting documents please click on the link below.
- Dress Standards and Uniforms Fact Sheet for Parents and Carers (108kb)
- Dress Standards and Uniforms Fact Sheet for Parents and Carers (187kb)
- Offering Student Equitable Uniform Options Fact-Sheet (123kb)
Wherever possible, schools ensure uniforms are sourced from ethical producers who are committed to an ethical supply chain and publish a list of their factories and suppliers (unless the costs involved are unreasonably expensive for parents and carers). Schools may also wish to encourage their uniform provider to join the Ethical Australia accreditation scheme. For more details see the Go Ethical website: www.ethical.org.au.
If you have any questions or comments about the policy please contact your school in the first instance. For further information please contact Student Wellbeing.
Supplying Personal Hygiene Products including Sanitary Hygiene items in School
All ACT Government schools are resourced to supply personal hygiene products, including sanitary hygiene items for any student who may need them. The supply of these products forms part of public education’s important objective of making access to education more equitable for all students, regardless of personal circumstances. When purchasing and supplying these products, schools are advised to consider
- offering sanitary pads and tampons in a range of appropriate sizes, and
- making toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap and deodorant available to all students who may require them.
Recognising a diversity of student needs, the majority of schools provide personal hygiene products in multiple locations in the school including the front office, the first aid, school nurse and/or student services rooms, promoting discreet access to these products. Primary schools also often have products available through the student’s classroom teacher.