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 The impact of bushfires on student wellbeing and student learning (PDF, 1.3MB)

The impact of bushfires on student wellbeing and student learning (PDF, 1.3MB)

The catastrophic bushfires that occurred across NSW in late 2019 to early 2020 have had a significant impact on school operations. In response to the fires, the NSW Premier declared a State of Emergency on three separate occasions and the bushfires received wide media coverage both in Australia and internationally. A large number of schools temporarily ceased operation during the bushfire crisis. In February 2020, the NSW Department of Education formed a new Bushfire Relief Strategy Directorate charged with developing a strategy that provides direction for managing future bushfire seasons. The strategy outlines the department’s approach to assisting schools to recover from bushfires across the short, medium and long term.

This paper aims to support the strategy by bringing together the available research on the potential impact of natural disasters on student wellbeing and student learning, contextualised to school education in NSW. The first section describes the research on students’ distress and mental health in the short-term and long-term stages after bushfires and other natural disasters. The second section looks at the potential impact of bushfires on student learning and considers the implications for NSW schools in relation to student learning, student assessment, and disaster education.


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Published in Research report

Process evaluation of the Refugee Student Counselling Support Team

Authors: Rebecca Wilkinson, Jessica Fulcher, Rochelle Cox

Evaluator company/business: Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation

URL or PDF: Process evaluation of the Refugee Student Counselling Support Team

Summary: The Refugee Student Counselling Support Team (RSCST) provides specialised support to NSW public schools that have refugee students enrolled. The process evaluation comprised 43 in-depth interviews with RSCST team members, school-based staff, Refugee Support Leaders and other providers of refugee services; development of four case studies to illustrate good practice; and review of activity data and self-evaluation data collected by the team. The study found that school staff consistently observed that the RSCST's work has led to improvements in refugee students' social and emotional skills, a reduced incidence and intensity of negative behaviours, and an increased readiness to learn. Further, many school staff felt more confident and supported to put into practice the skills and strategies learnt from the RSCST's capacity-building sessions and side-by-side counselling support. The report includes four case studies that showcase how the RSCST supports NSW public schools, including: complex case support and classroom teacher capacity building; the benefits of play therapy; supporting a new regional refugee settlement area, and RSCST's collaborative working relationship with STARTTS and the benefits for schools.

Published in Evaluation repository
Friday, 15 May 2020

What works best toolkit

What works best toolkit (PDF, 2.3MB)

What works best toolkit (PDF, 2.5MB)

Access our other 'What works best' resources

The toolkit includes a reflection framework. It supports teachers to reflect on their current practice for each of the What works best themes and identify areas for improvement. The reflection process involves outlining your current practice for each What works best theme and the impact of your current practice. Then, identify the next steps for improvement by considering areas of practice that need to be strengthened. This includes practices that need to be adopted/started, adapted/changed or stopped/discontinued.
When reflecting on your practice for each theme, refer to the strategies in the What works best in practice document, specific elements of the School Excellence Framework and to the standards of focus in the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers.

Published in Tools for teachers

BestPractices2020 v1

Best practicescreating a positive learning environment (PDF, 70kB)

Using the department's remote learning resources

 

The modern classroom is ever-changing. The following evidence-based teaching strategies can assist teachers as they support students’ education continuity, in an online and/or remote learning environment.

Explicit teaching

  • Clearly show students what to do and how to do it (for example, providing explanation videos, hard/soft copy worked examples or completed exemplars).
  • Explain the purpose and relevance of all tasks (for example, providing visual lesson outlines, learning intentions, the activities or key instructions, and the success criteria for the lesson).

Read more on explicit teaching in What works best: 2020 update and What works best in practice.

Manage cognitive load

  • Cut out inessential information.
  • Present all the essential information together.
  • Simplify complex information by presenting it both orally and visually.
  • Encourage students to visualise concepts and procedures that they have learnt.

Read more on cognitive load in Cognitive load theory and Managing cognitive load through effective presentations.

Support routines

  • Provide daily to-do lists and day schedule.
  • Have students submit work regularly.

Read more on classroom management in Classroom management and Leading from home – school planning.

Maintain high expectations

  • Be clear about what is expected of students (for example, student behaviour and tasks).
  • Provide effective feedback that includes constructive and actionable steps on how students can improve.
  • Encourage student personal best goal setting.

Read more on high expectations in How high expectations and engagement in primary school drive student learning and What works best: 2020 update.

Collaboration

  • Draw on collective teacher expertise (for example, co-plan lessons, share best practice models and resources).
  • Regularly inform parents and carers of their child’s progress, learning expectations and learning goals.

Read more on collaboration in Improving high school engagement, classroom practices and achievement and What works best: 2020 update

Active supervision

  • Check-in daily with students.

Read more on active supervision in Classroom management and Learning from home – delivery of learning.

Support student wellbeing

  • Encourage student feedback and suggestions to help students feel connected to their learning.
  • Engage students in positive self-talk, discuss issues when they arise and encourage students to ask for help.
  • Provide tips on how students can manage their time effectively.
  • Promote emotional safety through preventative strategies, such as teaching students self-regulation (for example, breathing and meditation exercises).

Read more on student wellbeing in Capturing and measuring student voice and Improving high school engagement, classroom practices and achievement.

For emotional safety preventative and responsive strategies, read Trauma-informed practice in schools: An explainer.

Support a safe online/remote learning environment

  • Provide students and parents information on respectful, responsible and safe use of digital devices.
  • Clearly communicate procedures for staff, parents and carers to report concerns or online bullying.

Read more on online safety in Anti-bullying interventions in schools, on the digital citizenship website, the eSafety website or download the eSafety toolkit for schools.

 

Using the department’s remote learning resources

Learning from home

The department’s dedicated Learning from home webpages provide resources and advice for teachers and parents including information on:

Literacy and numeracy resources for teachers

The Literacy and numeracy website supports the explicit teaching and learning of literacy and numeracy in schools by providing the latest resources including:

  • learning progressions
  • EAL/D learning progressions
  • PLAN2
  • podcasts
  • case studies

Teachers can also access the Literacy and numeracy professional learning.

Published in Tools for teachers
Friday, 24 April 2020

What works best in practice

What works best in practice (PDF, 3MB)

What works best in practice (PDF, 3MB)

Access our other 'What works best' resources

 

Summary

What works best in practice supports teachers to implement the evidence-based themes outlined in What works best: 2020 update. It provides strategies and case studies against eight key teaching practices that are known to improve student outcomes.

The eight themes are:

  • High expectations
  • Explicit teaching
  • Effective feedback
  • Use of data to inform practice
  • Student assessment
  • Classroom management
  • Wellbeing
  • Collaboration

The themes provide a useful framework for teachers to ensure their practices in the classroom align with the evidence. The strategies in the document are a great starting point for practical implementation and the case studies provide some examples about how other schools have approached these practices. As always, it is important to consider the strategies within the unique context of your own classroom and school environment.

For more information

Our What works best: 2020 update lays out the research and data behind each of the eight themes.

The School Excellence Framework supports school leaders take a planned and whole-school approach to improvement. The eight themes closely align with the School Excellence Framework.

Published in Tools for teachers
Friday, 24 April 2020

What works best: 2020 update

What works best: 2020 update (PDF, 1.6MB)

What works best: 2020 update (PDF, 1.6MB)

Access our other 'What works best' resources

 

Summary

This paper is an update to our 2014 publication. The 2020 update outlines eight quality teaching practices that are known to support school improvement and enhance the learning outcomes of our students. The themes are not an exhaustive list of effective practices, but are a useful framework for teachers and school leaders to consider when deciding how to tackle student improvement.

The eight themes identified as likely to make the biggest difference to our students are:

1. High expectations

Teachers’ beliefs about their students influence how they teach and interact with them. High expectations are linked with higher performance for all students. The reverse can also be true. Students may achieve less than their full potential if expectations of their ability are low.

2. Explicit teaching 

Explicit teaching practices involve teachers clearly showing students what to do and how to do it, rather than having students discover that information themselves. Students who experience explicit teaching practices make greater learning gains than students who do not experience these practices.

3. Effective feedback

Effective feedback provides students with relevant, explicit, ongoing, constructive and actionable information about their performance against learning outcomes from the syllabus.

4. Use of data to inform practice

Teachers use data to check and understand where their students are in their learning and to plan what to do next. Effective analysis of student data helps teachers identify areas where students’ learning needs may require additional attention and development.

5. Assessment

High quality student assessment helps us know that learning is taking place. Assessment is most effective when it is an integral part of teaching and learning programs.

6. Classroom management

Classroom management is important for creating the conditions for learning. Effective classroom management minimises and addresses all levels of disengagement and disruptive behaviours.

7. Wellbeing

At school, the practices that support student wellbeing involve creating a safe environment; ensuring connectedness; engaging students in their learning; and promoting social and emotional skills.

8. Collaboration 

Professional collaboration allows best practice to be identified and shared across classrooms. Effective collaboration explicitly aims to improve teacher practices and student outcomes. 

For more information

Our What works best in practice resource provides strategies to support teachers to implement the eight themes in the classroom.

The School Excellence Framework supports school leaders take a planned and whole-school approach to improvement. The eight themes closely align with the School Excellence Framework.

Published in Research report

Impact of mobile digital devices in schools (PDF, 2MB)

Impact of mobile digital devices in schools (PDF, 2MB) - a literature review on the impact of non-educational mobile digital device use on student wellbeing. 

Published in Research report

This course allows educators to engage with contemporary literature on student wellbeing and connect it to their own practice.

Mode of delivery: online 
Accredited hours: 1.5
myPL course code: RG03815
Themes: wellbeing, engagement, social and emotional learning

Learn more about what the course involves.

Learn more about the Student wellbeing publication.

Enrol on myPL. 

Published in Professional learning
Friday, 20 July 2018

Supporting students' learning

Supporting students' learning - insights from students, parents and teachers (PDF, 1MB)Supporting-students-learning-resources-thumb

The Supporting students' learning - insights from students, parents and teachers (PDF, 1MB) learning curve presents findings from the 2016 Tell Them From Me school surveys completed by primary and secondary students, parents/carer and teachers in NSW government schools. Students provide feedback on how much support they receive from their teachers and their parents/carers, while responses from teachers and parent/carers indicate how much support they provide in school and at home, respectively. It draws on all three perspectives to explore the provision of advocacy and support and how this varies for different groups of students at different stages of school. 

The Supporting students' learning - resources and case studies for schools, teachers and parents (PDF, 808kB) accompanies the learning curve, providing evidence-based strategies and two case studies that describe how to create supportive learning environments. 

Read the audio paper transcript (PDF, 106kB). 

Download the poster (PDF, 120kB).

 

Background

Alongside effective teaching practices, students need a supportive learning environment to succeed. In an education context, advocacy and support for learning refers to the active consideration of, and support for, students’ academic and wellbeing needs.

Main findings

  • The results show that students and teachers report different levels of advocacy and support in school depending on the stage of schooling. Students’ perceptions of teacher support start to decline in the final years of primary school. Secondary school students perceive teacher support to dip in the middle years of school, before improving in Years 11 and 12. Teachers report that they increase the amount of classroom support they provide to students in key schooling years (Years 5-6 and Years 10-12).
  • In NSW, both parents and students report a continual decline in the frequency of supportive interactions at home that relate to school.
  • While there are some differences between boys’ and girls’ experiences of advocacy and support in school and at home, there is a large disadvantage gap between low and high-SES students. These findings suggest that more can be done to make sure all students have access to support sources, which they can turn to for advice and encouragement.
  • Accompanying this Learning Curve, CESE has used evidence-based practices and local examples to provide practical strategies for fostering advocacy and support in schools and at home. Case studies on Whalan Public School and Sir Joseph Banks High School highlight some of the programs and initiatives these schools have used to achieve high levels of advocacy at school. This qualitative research shows that schools that provide high levels of advocacy at school are also committed to strengthening the homeschool partnership for their students.

More information

The NSW Department of Education Strategic Plan 2018-2022 includes the commitment to ensure that every student is known, valued and cared for in our schools. School advocacy and support for learning are necessary components for happy and successful students. Schools can use the department’s Tell Them From Me surveys to engage with, clarify and strengthen the important relationship between teachers, parents and schools by providing an evidence-based platform to capture feedback. This knowledge can then help build an accurate and timely picture that schools can use for practical improvements.

The summary on this page is also available as a PDF. Download the summary of the two publications (PDF, 180kB).

Published in Learning Curve
Wednesday, 09 May 2018

Student wellbeing audio paper

 

This audio paper explores how student wellbeing is defined, the relationship between wellbeing, schools and outcomes, and school elements in improving student wellbeing.

Read by Kate Griffiths, CESE.
Download the transcript (PDF, 141kB) or go to the full publication

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