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School Psychology and Student Support Teams


Student support in the ACT is a contemporary model based on a range of professionals working together to support students to achieve positive learning and wellbeing outcomes. The model includes psychologists based in schools, teachers with a focus on wellbeing/ pastoral care and a range of other various support staff, depending on the school.  These staff may include a School Youth Health Nurse, a Youth Worker or a Student Wellbeing worker.  Schools may also request additional support, for example, the Education Directorate’s multidisciplinary Network Student Engagement Teams (NSET) also support schools. The student support team model aims to focus on prevention, early support, capacity building and a team approach to ensure students’ wellbeing.

School Psychologists

All schools have a school psychologist as part of their student services team.  Our school psychologists are registered with the Psychology Board of Australia and their work is governed by the Australian Psychological Society Code of Ethics and several legislations such as Education Act 2004, Children and Young People Act 2008 and Health Records (Privacy and Access) Act 1997.

Psychologists are trained in human behaviour and have an understanding of child / adolescent development, behaviour, learning, memory, as well as the processes that influence how people think and feel. Within schools they can help deal with complex student issues and support school communities in a wide range of professional activities.

School psychologists can provide direct support or interventions to students, consult with teachers and families, or work alongside other members of the student services team (school youth health nurse, school social worker, youth worker) to assist students to thrive in their school environment.  School psychologists may also work with the school executive team on school-wide practices and procedures, as well as collaborate with community providers to co-ordinate services for students.

The key aspects of a psychologist’s work in schools include the following:

  1. Undertake psychological evaluations, including individual student cognitive assessments
  2. Assist with Individual Learning Plans
  3. Provide psychological intervention individually or in groups.  This may include a referral to a community provider for long term support
  4. Facilitate workshops and training for parents or teachers
  5. Act as a liaison to community services (paediatricians, allied health professionals) to provide information on a student’s progress or to obtain additional information for evaluations.
  6. Offer grief counselling in the event of a tragedy affecting the school community

The responsibilities of this professional group may vary from school to school and may even change periodically based on student/staff needs.

Network Student Engagement Teams, including Allied Health professionals

ACT public schools are grouped in four regional networks. Each network has a multidisciplinary Network Student Engagement Team (NSET) who provide support to schools on a referral basis.

NSET are multidisciplinary teams of professionals with a diverse skill set who work collaboratively with schools to support all students.  NSET may support schools through the provision of professional learning for staff, support with whole school procedures and programs for groups of students and/or supports for individual students.  If your school refers to NSET for support to meet your child’s individual needs you will be contacted to seek your consent.

The following is a list of roles within each NSET:

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:

School Youth Health Nurses are employed by ACT Health and supported by the Education Directorate.For more information please phone 6205 7029 or email ETDStudentWellbeing@act.gov.au

Pastoral Care

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 ceased participation in the NSCP at the end of Term 4, 2019.

Chaplains in Catholic and Independent schools

The NSCP funding will remain available to Catholic and Independent schools for the duration of the current NSCP agreement (2019-2022) to support the emotional wellbeing of students by providing pastoral care services and strategies that support the emotional wellbeing of the broader school community.

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.

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.

Email: ETDStudentWellbeing@act.gov.au

Phone: (02) 6205 9078.