Government, Independent and Catholic schools across NSW have joined forces to introduce a unique cross-sector agreement, which includes the creation of a NSW Chief Behaviour Advisor, to lift behaviour standards in schools.
The Advisor will work with schools using the latest evidence-based practices, through the Education Minister’s Schools Advisory Council. They will also advise parents and carers on the most effective ways to support their children and reinforce the behavioural approaches taken at school.
Nationals Minister for Education and Early Learning Sarah Mitchell said the behavioural pressures on schools are complex and having a cross-sector approach will help all schools tackle big challenges like social media.
Ms Mitchell also confirmed plans to more than double the number of Behaviour Specialists supporting NSW public schools to manage complex student behaviour, from 70 to 200.
“The boost to the number of Behaviour Specialists will mean more schools will benefit from these experts who can provide advice to teachers, coordinate resources and build the capacity of schools to manage challenging and complex student behaviour,” Ms Mitchell said.
“Our overall approach will help embed our recent inclusive, engaging and respectful schools reforms in public schools, and share best practice across systems so that all schools can adopt strategies that have been proven to work well.”
The new approach will be complemented by the state’s first-ever cross-sector school respect awards, to recognise students who have shown high standards of respectful behaviour, inclusiveness and community mindedness.
Each school in NSW will present a Premier’s Respect Award to a student who exemplifies respectful behaviour, then an expert panel will select the top 10 who will be presented with their awards by the Premier at an annual Respect Award Showcase.
Dallas McInerney, CEO of Catholic Schools NSW, said the introduction of the awards hit the right balance.
“There are great things happening in our schools every day and these awards will give respectful behaviour the same high regard and prestige as academic achievement,” Mr McInerney said.
“The introduction of the NSW Chief Behaviour Advisor also recognises that proactively addressing student behaviour can make an enormous contribution to improving student learning outcomes and promoting a positive learning environment.”
Dr Geoff Newcombe, CEO of the Association of Independent Schools of NSW (AISNSW), welcomed a collaborative approach to addressing behaviour in schools.
“To tackle these issues head on, we need a strong, cross-sector approach which supports schools to hold students to a high standard,” Dr Newcombe said.
A global search for the first NSW Chief Behaviour Advisor will commence in October, with the appointment to be confirmed by the start of the 2023 school year.
Nominations for the new NSW Premier’s Respect Awards will open in October. The first winners will be announced at the end of the year.