The care continuum

The care continuum facilitates the implementation of a whole-school, prevention-focused, and positive approach to behaviour support to meet the needs of all students.

Interventions across the care continuum

Students may require different types of intervention delivered in different ways along a continuum of care.

The care continuum includes interventions for:

  • all students - creating a safe and respectful learning and play environments for all students. Along the care continuum this is known as prevention or universal interventions.
  • some students - providing early intervention and targeted support for disruptive student behaviour, including students at risk of developing negative behaviours. Along the care continuum this includes early and targeted interventions.
  • a few students - supporting students with complex and challenging behaviour needs, including students who have been diagnosed with particular conditions, through intense, individual interventions.
Image shows care continuum levels - prevention, early intervention, targeted intervention, individual intervention Image shows care continuum levels - prevention, early intervention, targeted intervention, individual intervention

Whole-school proactive and prevention approaches aim to establish and maintain safe, respectful learning environments for all students. Proactive approaches include explicit teaching of the expected behaviours. These learning environments include classrooms, playgrounds, online and any other school endorsed events and should encourage prosocial behaviour. These interventions underpin effective teaching and will reduce minor behaviours of concern when applied consistently.

Some students require early intervention to deal with emerging, low-level behaviours of concern. Early interventions provide early support for students or groups of students who are identified as being at risk of developing behaviours of concern. Schools need to develop a range of initial responses and approaches to work with students displaying emerging, low-level behaviours of concern. Early responses to behaviours of concern include preventive strategies, explicit teaching of expected behaviours, logical consequences, and consultation.

Some students may require targeted support to encourage positive behaviours, particularly if they exhibit more complex and challenging behaviours, or where the frequency of the behaviour of concern may put students’ learning and social success at risk if it is not addressed quickly. School staff should facilitate positive behavioural supports, including explicit teaching of expected behaviours as well as making targeted and reasonable adjustments in the classroom to support effective teaching and learning practices.

Students with highly complex and challenging behaviours may need comprehensive systems of support that require regular reviews in consultation with parents, Team within a school and Team Around a School. Strategies for these students require individual assessment, planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. Schools need to build capacity of school teams and teaching staff to be able to undertake functional behaviour assessments (FBA), develop individual student support plans and risk management plans for individual students.

Care continuum guide

For detailed information about the care continuum and how schools can apply it to support student behaviour refer to the Care continuum guide (staff only).

To learn more about:

Information about this resource

This resource supports teacher and school needs by providing:

  • high quality resources to support implementation of prevention focussed, positive behaviour care continuum
  • supports for all students at their point of need

This resource contributes towards the key areas of providing schools, teachers, students and parents with the supports and resources needed to understand the care continuum, including a resource hub through:

  • understanding of the care continuum for prevention, early intervention, targeted intervention and individual intervention
  • using principles of good practice in behaviour support
  • providing information for parents, carers and the community to develop meaningful engagement and partnerships to better support their children.

Professional audience

School leaders and teachers across all school settings.

This resource is able to be used without assistance, as a stand-alone resource and/or linked to professional learning.

Student audience

All students P-12.

When to use

To better understand the Care Continuum, including prevention, early intervention, targeted intervention, and individual intervention. There are different entry points for each student depending on their level of need. An intervention can begin at any point across the continuum.


Can be used at any time when teachers require information to better support student behaviour.

System priorities and/or needs

This resource aligns with:

  • Our Plan for NSW Public Education’s direction and priorities of strengthening student wellbeing and development and advancing equitable outcomes, opportunities and experiences.
  • need identified by Delivery Support to build teacher capacity in understanding the care continuum.

School Excellence Framework

  • Learning domain – Wellbeing (Caring for students, A planned approach to wellbeing, Individual learning needs, Behaviour).
  • Teaching domain - Effective classroom practice (Classroom management).

Relevant frameworks

Existing resources

Consulted with: Delivery Support team, Aboriginal Partnerships and Outcomes, Inclusion and Wellbeing as part of the development of the behaviour support toolkit. 

Reviewed by: Behaviour Services

Last updated: January 2024

Byers, T., Liu, K., Knock, A., & Imms, W. (2018). A systematic review of the effects of learning environments on student learning outcomes.

Cason-Clemons, D. (2020). A systemic review of the influence of Positive Behavior Intervention Support (PBIS) on student behavior. Trevecca Nazarene University ProQuest Dissertations Publishing. 2020. 27955528.

Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation. (2020). What works best: 2020 update. NSW Department of Education.

Centre on Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports. (2022). Positive behavioral interventions and supports,

Centre on Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports. (2022). Supporting and responding to students’ social, emotional and behavioral needs: evidence-based practices for educator,

Daly-Smith AJ, Zwolinsky S, McKenna J. (2018). Systematic review of acute physically active learning and classroom movement breaks on children’s physical activity, cognition, academic performance and classroom behaviour: understanding critical design features, BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine, 4.

Goss, P., & Sonneman, J. (2017). Engaging students. Creating classrooms that improve learning.

Hahn, R., Fuqua-Whitley, D., Wethington, H., Lowry, J., Crosby, A., Fullilove, M., Johnson, R., Liberman, A., Moscicki, E., Price, L., Snyder, S., Tuma, F., Cory, S., Stone, G., Mukhopadhaya, K., Chattopadhyay, S., Dahlebrg, L. (2017). Effectiveness of universal school-based programs to prevent violent and aggressive behaviour: A systematic review, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 33(2), p114-129.

NSW Ombudsman. (2017). NSW Ombudsman Inquiry into behaviour management in schools.

Pearce, N., Cross, D., Epstein, M., Johnston, R., & Legge, E. (2019). Strengthening school and system capacity to implement effective interventions to support student behaviour and wellbeing in NSW public schools: An evidence review. Telethon Kids Institute: Perth, Western Australia.

Solomon, B. G., Klien, S. A., Hintze, J. M., Cressey, J. M., Peller, S. (2012). A meta-analysis of school-wide positive behavior support: an exploratory study using single-case synthesis. Psychology in the Schools, 49(2), 105-121.

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