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.
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:
- Undertake psychological evaluations, including individual student cognitive assessments
- Assist with Individual Learning Plans
- Provide psychological intervention individually or in groups. This may include a referral to a community provider for long term support
- Facilitate workshops and training for parents or teachers
- 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.
- 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:
- NSET Principal /Senior Director: oversees all four Network Student Engagement Teams.
- NSET Deputy Principals: An NSET Deputy Principal leads each 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Speech Language Pathologists (SLP): support schools by building their capacity to meet the educational needs of students with special needs in communication and/or eating and drinking safely. 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
Phone: (02) 6205 9078.