Supporting engagement


Safe, supportive and inclusive schools with high-quality curriculum and pedagogy are essential to helping young people succeed in life. Most children and young people fare well in Queensland schools. However, some children and young people experience barriers to successful participation. Timely and skilled interventions can support many students to get back on track. Other children and young people may need intensive and sustained interventions throughout their learning pathway. Still others may benefit from alternative environments outside of the mainstream system.

A framework for success

A Framework for maximising engagement and re-engagement (PDF, 888KB) outlines an evidence-based approach to meeting the needs of children and young people who are at risk of disengagement, or who are disengaged. The Youth engagement practice guide (PDF, 628KB), a companion document to the Framework, provides schools and other front-line staff with tools to support their high quality and inclusive practice.

Responding to individual needs

While there is no single approach that can meet the needs of every student, early intervention is the most effective strategy that can prevent disengagement. Responding to students in ways that reflect their individual circumstances can help young people remain on their pathway to learning.

Find their spark

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach in supporting youth engagement, but all young people have a spark. Something that inspires and drives them; and this can be the spark that helps them to find resilience, build a sense of self and self-worth to overcome diversity and find relevance in their education.

Parents play a significant role in supporting their child’s education, but it can be hard to know how to navigate education pathways and options and access relevant support. Building a strong value of learning and developing the motivation to take opportunities comes from within. By supporting their child’s spark and unique interests, parents can help their child build resilience, enhanced sense of self and build relevance and meaning in their education.

They might be surprised how much their child is already learning from being engaged in their hobby. It might surprise you how much their spark can influence other areas of their life. As they try and fail, they are learning. Trying is perseverance. Learning is developing expert skills and knowledge in the area. Seeking out information is researching. Through nurturing a child’s spark, you can help them develop a range of skills they can use in all areas of their life; while giving them purpose, enjoyment and strengthening their sense of identity.

Queensland schools are committed to strong communication with parents and communities, to support all students to succeed.

Students in out-of-home care

Some children and young people are placed in out-of-home care on a permanent or temporary basis when it is deemed that separation from their family is necessary to ensure their safety. Research tells us that experiences of abuse, neglect and trauma can affect a young person’s capacity to focus and learn, participate in school activities, and form meaningful relationships with other children and teachers.

Schools can play a vital role in supporting these vulnerable young people by providing a safe, secure and accepting environment to help them reach their academic, social and emotional potential.

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Students experiencing bullying behaviour

Bullying can have serious social, emotional and academic consequences. Research conducted by Australia’s Safe and Supportive School Communities Working Group indicates that students who are subjected to bullying often avoid school as a coping strategy.

Schools can encourage a positive school-wide approach to healthy behaviour and respond appropriately to bullying. This will help create a safe and supportive environment for students.

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Students experiencing mental health difficulties

Children and young people experiencing mental health difficulties or who have a parent with a mental illness are at risk of disengaging from school.

Schools can often be the first point of identification for children and young people who are experiencing mental health difficulties and can play an important role in supporting them to remain engaged.

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Students experiencing housing insecurity

Housing insecurity can encompass a range of precarious accommodation situations including homelessness, overcrowding, emergency accommodation, temporary accommodation and frequent moving. Children who move regularly can experience disruptions to their schooling as it can affect their academic performance and ability to form friendships. They are also less likely to have access to the physical infrastructure they need such as learning spaces, computers and books.

Schools can assist these students through early intervention including providing flexible schooling options, additional learning support, adopting flexibility in adherence to policies and procedures, connecting students and their families with specialist services and providing homework space and assistance to catch up on missed classroom learning.

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Aboriginal students and Torres Strait Islander students

Some Aboriginal students and Torres Strait Islander students may face complex socio-economic challenges that can adversely affect their schooling. Statistics show that Indigenous students perform well below the educational outcomes of non-Indigenous students on measures of literacy, school enrolment, school attendance and Year 12 completion.

Across Queensland, many Aboriginal students and Torres Strait Islander students also come to school speaking languages other than Standard Australian English. They must develop proficiency in Standard Australian English to have equal access to classroom learning of the curriculum.

To support Aboriginal students and Torres Strait Islander students in achieving success, schools can adopt a number of approaches, including promoting respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, establishing strong, respectful and empathic relationships with each student, maintaining high levels of teacher commitment and cultural awareness, and maintaining flexibility of student support services to enable students to remain at school.

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Students from a refugee background and/or survivors of torture and trauma

Many students from a refugee background experience complex and multiple barriers to education and training, including an interruption to their formal schooling or a limited formal education experience, limited or no English language, limited learning infrastructure in the home, housing instability, limited economic resources and experience of torture and trauma.

The Department of Education Refugee Program distributes funding to schools with students from a refugee background for additional resources.

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Students with disability

Students with a disability can feel disconnected from education if they are not provided with a flexible environment to make education accessible to them.

Schools can support students with a disability by providing special education programs and services, specialist staff, special schools, and access to the Education Adjustment Program, early childhood development programs and services, and the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

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Students who are young carers

Young carers provide care and support to a family member or friend who has a disability, mental illness, chronic condition, terminal illness or who is frail. Young people who take on a caring role need support as they strive to balance their caring responsibilities with managing school commitments.

Schools can provide a supportive and understanding environment as well as providing flexible learning and enrolment options, one-on-one assistance to complete homework and school assignments, allowing negotiated use of mobile phones during class, and linking young carers with support services.

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Young people in the youth justice system

Children and young people involved in the youth justice system are among the state’s most vulnerable. Many of these children are disadvantaged socially and educationally and a significant number experience housing insecurity, substance abuse, disability and mental health difficulties.

Schools can implement a trauma-informed approach which recognises the impact of trauma on a student’s physical, psychological and emotional wellbeing and aims to assist survivors of trauma to rebuild a sense of control and empowerment. Integrated case management involving multi-agency collaboration is another approach schools can use to respond to the needs of children who are at risk of disengaging. Schools can also refer students to Aggression Replacement Training, a cognitive-behavioural program designed to reduce the aggressive and anti-social behaviours of young people involved in the youth justice system.

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Learners of English as an additional language or dialect

Queensland is a multicultural society. Approximately 220 languages or dialects are spoken across Queensland. Some learners who speak a language or dialect other than English need support with the English language in order to access their age-appropriate curriculum. Such learners can include those born in Australia and raised in families in which languages or dialects other than English are spoken, such as Aboriginal students and Torres Strait Islander students or children of migrants. Those students born outside Australia include humanitarian entrants, international students and migrants.

To support these learners, schools may offer interpreter services, make adjustments to classroom tasks, teaching materials, teaching styles and assessments, provide an intensive English language teaching program, and link students and parents with other support services.

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Last updated 20 May 2019