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education.vic.gov.au

School operations

Student Engagement

Policy

The purpose of this policy is to assist schools to create an effective local student engagement policy which provides the basis on which schools develop and maintain safe, supportive and inclusive school environments.   

Summary

  • Every government school must have a local student engagement policy. 
  • The principal must develop the policy in consultation with the school community and must have regard to the rights and responsibilities of students, parents and staff in developing the policy.
  • The policy must include information required by the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority Minimum Standards.
  • The student engagement policy includes:
    • details in relation to monitoring daily attendance of each student and strategies to promote and improve attendance
    • policies and procedures that ensure that the care, safety and welfare of students is in accordance with any applicable State and Commonwealth law (including student welfare and bullying, cyberbullying and harassment)
    • policies relating to the discipline of students that are based on principles of procedural fairness and include an explicit statement that corporal punishment is not permitted
  • A Student Wellbeing and Engagement Policy Template is available on the School Policy Templates Portal (login required).
  • Schools should refer to the Student Engagement Guidance (in the Guidance tab) for a detailed explanation of best practice steps when developing their student engagement policy.

Details

Schools develop local student engagement policies to document how they:

  • create and maintain a positive and engaging school culture
  • create and maintain environments that are safe and supportive
  • value diversity and promote pro-social behaviour
  • promote school attendance
  • adopt a staged approach to promote positive behaviours 
  • apply disciplinary measures

A principal of a government school must develop a policy for student engagement for the students at the school including in relation to student behaviour.

The principal must develop the policy in consultation with the school community and have regard to the rights and responsibilities of students, parents and staff in developing the policy.

Student engagement policies articulate the expectations and aspirations of the school community in relation to student engagement including strategies to address bullying, school attendance and behaviour.  The school-based policy should:

  • create and maintain a positive and engaging school culture
  • create and maintain environments that are safe and supportive
  • value diversity and promote pro-social behaviour
  • promote school attendance
  • adopt a staged approach to promote positive behaviours 
  • advise how disciplinary measures may be applied, and
  • detail how and when a school implements a staged response to concerning student behaviour

The Education and Training Reform Act 2006 (Vic) prohibits the use of corporal punishment in any Victorian government school.

School-based policy requirements

A school’s student engagement policy must include:

  • a school profile statement
  • a statement outlining the school values, philosophy and vision
  • the engagement strategies to be used across the school, including a reference to universal, targeted and individual strategies
  • how a school will identify students in need of support
  • student rights and responsibilities
  • behavioural expectations and guidance for when these expectations are not met, which includes details of a staged response and appropriate supports
  • how the school will engage with families
  • the process to evaluate and update the policy

Using your school’s student engagement policy

The policy should be a foundation document that supports or links with other school plans such as school-wide improvement strategies.

It can also be a helpful reference when tailoring individual student-based interventions, or to aid effective communication about the rights and responsibilities for all school community members when working with a student who is not meeting the behavioural expectations.

An engagement policy should be a living document that is reviewed and refreshed in response to progress and changing school context. It is recommended that the policy is reviewed every 2 to 3 years.

To ensure that a school community is familiar with and committed to the policy it can be promoted by:

  • making it a prominent feature on the school website
  • highlighting excerpts on posters to remind people of their shared commitment to a safe and supportive school
  • giving copies to parents when they enrol their children
  • student focus groups and sharing the policy with students

Legal requirements

The policy must meet the requirements of the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority (VRQA) Minimum Standards including:

  • details in relation to monitoring the daily attendance of each student enrolled at the school
  • policies and procedures that ensure that the care, safety and welfare of students is in accordance with any applicable State and Commonwealth law (including student welfare and bullying, cyberbullying and harassment)
  • policies relating to the discipline of students that are based on principles of procedural fairness and include an explicit statement that corporal punishment is not permitted

For more information refer to the VRQA Guidelines to the Minimum Standards and Requirements for School Registration.

Developing a policy can support schools to address their legal obligations under relevant legislation including:

  • the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic) which prohibits discrimination on the basis of various protected attributes (characteristics)
  • the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic) which requires public authorities, including government schools and their employees, to act compatibly with human rights and to consider human rights when making decisions and delivering services. 
    • Charter decisions in schools include decisions around enrolment, attendance, responding to behaviour concerns (including preventing the escalation of behaviours), the making of adjustments for students with disabilities, preventing and responding to bullying, use of restrictive practices including restraint, and decisions to suspend or expel a student.
    • rights protected by the Charter include the protection of families and children (including promoting the best interests of the child), the right to equality, and cultural and religious rights.
  • the Disability Standards for Education 2005 (Cth) which clarify and make more explicit the obligations on schools and the rights of students under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth)
  • the Education and Training Reform Act 2006 (Vic) which states that all Victorians, irrespective of the education and training institution they attend, where they live or their social or economic status, should have access to a high quality education that
    • realises their learning potential and maximises their education
    • training achievement and promotes enthusiasm for lifelong learning
  • allowing parents to take an active part in their child's education and training

Resources on promoting student engagement

For further support and guidance on strategies and programs to enhance student engagement and identify students at risk of disengaging, refer to the Resources tab.  

Contacts

For advice and support in managing issues relating to student engagement, contact your regional office.

Relevant legislation

Department policy outlining how schools can create an effective local student engagement policy

Reviewed 02 March 2021

Policy last updated

15 June 2020

Scope

  • Schools

Contact

Wellbeing Health and Engagement Division There are multiple contacts for this policy. Refer to Contacts section in the policy for details.

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