School operations

Student Engagement

What to include

A high quality student engagement policy will include the below information. Schools should also refer to the Student Wellbeing and Engagement Policy template on the School Policy Templates Portal (staff login required) for further detail and examples.

A description of the school profile

To help members of the school community understand the needs of the school, the school profile statement should detail the diversity of the student population and school community, in general terms.

Including school data and referencing community aspirations for the school can help to identify strengths and areas for improvement.

School values, philosophy and vision

The purpose of this section is to highlight your school’s values, philosophy and vision. It should act as a summary of your school’s Statement of Values and help to ensure that the values adopted by your school are integrated into this policy.

Engagement strategies

A policy should outline a range of evidence-based strategies that a school will use to positively engage students in learning and intervene early when problems arise.

Research shows that engagement strategies work best when they extend beyond wellbeing and disciplinary approaches. You may like to also reference teaching, learning and assessment strategies, with a focus on personalised learning and the use of technology.

Engagement strategies can be categorised and presented in the policy as:

  • universal (school-wide) engagement strategies that create safe, inclusive and empowering environments that foster an enthusiasm for learning and support student wellbeing
  • targeted (population-specific) engagement strategies that meet the varied needs of vulnerable cohorts, including both prevention and intervention strategies
  • individual (student-specific) engagement strategies for students at risk, including strategies to identify and respond to individual student circumstances when regular attendance is not consistent or positive behaviours are not demonstrated

In addition to universal strategies, schools still need processes in place to identify and intervene early when an individual or group of students are at risk of disengaging.

Identifying students in need of support

This section of the policy should describe the school’s commitment to providing support and enhancing student wellbeing. The information and tools that the school uses to identify students who need support should be listed in this section of the policy.

The Student Wellbeing and Engagement policy template on the School Policy Template Portal provides examples of information and tools to include in this section of the policy.

Student rights and responsibilities

This section of the policy must describe student rights and responsibilities, with the wording being appropriate to a primary or a secondary school setting.

The Student Wellbeing and Engagement Policy template provides examples of information to include in this section of the policy.

Behaviour expectations and responses to challenging behaviour

An engagement policy must detail the expectations for behaviour and the consequences and actions to be taken when these are not met. The policy will be most effective when the school and the school community have shared expectations. These actions should include support measures and disciplinary measures.

Disciplinary measures may be used as part of a staged response to inappropriate behaviour in combination with other engagement and support strategies to ensure that factors that may have contributed to the student’s behaviour are identified and addressed.

Disciplinary measures should retain the dignity of the student. Measures that exclude a student from learning should be avoided where possible.

Engaging with families

This section of the policy should include a statement regarding the school’s approach to engaging with families and details of how the school will work to create successful partnerships with parents and carers.

The Student Wellbeing and Engagement policy template provides examples of information to include in this section of the policy.

The process to evaluate and update the policy

An engagement policy should be treated as a living document.

It is recommended that the policy is reviewed every 1 to 2 years.

Giving staff members the role of leading the evaluation of the policy can be effective.

Schools should report to their community on the effectiveness of the policy. This may occur in periodical communications such as the school annual report. Reporting to the community can help to ensure that the policy continues to reflect the school community’s expectations and aspirations.

Guidance chapter on the content that should be included when creating a school-level student engagement policy

Reviewed 23 August 2021

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