Supporting advocacy at school

This publication was originally published 29 June 2020.

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Summary

Introduction

When students feel that they are advocated for at school, they feel that they have someone who they can turn to for help and advice, they feel cared for and are supported to achieve their best. This synthesis of research explains why student advocacy at school is important and provides practical suggestions for schools to support their students.

Key findings

  • Students who experience high levels of advocacy at school have improved learning and wellbeing outcomes and are also more likely to have:
    • increased motivation and effort in lessons
    • an enhanced sense of belonging
    • an improved chance of completing school.
  • Advocacy at school is linked to both student engagement and wellbeing and teaching practices.
  • Teachers and staff can be effective advocates at school by encouraging student voice and incorporating it into decision-making at school. Teachers can encourage student voice by investing time in getting to know their students, having conversations with students about their learning and aspirations, and responding to student surveys and student feedback.
  • Students experience different levels of advocacy at school at different stages of their schooling. Students from high socioeconomic backgrounds are more likely to report higher levels of advocacy at school than those from low socioeconomic backgrounds, while girls and boys experience advocacy differently at different stages of their schooling.
  • Schools are able to promote advocacy for students by focusing on periods of transition, providing opportunities to build relationships, encouraging student voice, establishing programs to get to know their students and providing targeted support.

Student sense of belonging in NSW public schools

Students report on the level of belonging at school that they experience in the student survey offered to NSW public schools – Tell Them From Me (TTFM). TTFM reports on student, parent and teacher perspectives of their school and provides data on students’ wellbeing and engagement, as well as the teaching practices they encounter in the classroom. This paper presents findings on how to support students' sense of belonging, drawn from longitudinal modelling of TTFM data, NSW case studies and literature reviews conducted by the Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation (CESE). Accompanying papers provide findings on how to support high academic expectations and advocacy at school and to support school improvement with TTFM.

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