Applying the care continuum

Students may require different types of intervention delivered in different ways along a continuum of need to best meet their needs. This is called the care continuum.

What is the care continuum?

The care continuum includes interventions for:

  • all students - creating a safe and respectful learning environment

  • some students - providing early intervention and targeted support for students at risk of developing negative behaviours

  • a few students - supporting students with complex and challenging behaviour needs through intense, individual interventions.

The care continuum is a whole-school system that can assist schools to adopt a prevention-focused approach and help to address the full spectrum of student needs including:

  • prevention

  • early intervention

  • targeted intervention

  • individual intervention.

Schools provide this care for students through the delivery of programs, practices and services (interventions) by teachers, school staff and specialist staff across the continuum.

There are different entry points for each student depending on their level of need. An intervention can begin at prevention or at any other point across the continuum. The care continuum is designed to be used in both directions where it is relevant to the needs of the student or class. Some strategies may span across the continuum where relevant.

Whole-school prevention approaches aim to establish and maintain safe, respectful learning environments for all students. 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.

Prevention strategies for all students

Prevention strategies may include but are not limited to:

  • Strong teacher/student relationships.
  • Explicit teaching and modelling of specific skills including behaviour expectations and social skills.
  • Communication with parents around school expectations.
  • Class based systems of expectations and positive reinforcement.
  • Consistent teacher expectations, routines, modelling and responses to behaviour.
  • Liaison with previous teachers, pre-schools, external paraprofessionals
  • Curriculum links, particularly in PDHPE (including respectful relationships), and personal and social capabilities in all syllabi.
  • Social skills programs, role play and drama activities, and circle time.
  • Turn taking activities, board games, card games, picture talks and barrier games to develop expressive and receptive communication skills.
  • Engaging parent involvement.
  • Integrating mindfulness, movement breaks and social/emotional learning into teaching and learning programs.
  • High quality differentiated teaching that addresses individual learning needs of all students, where appropriate learning adjustments are documented in an individual student support plan and/or Personal Learning Pathways (PLPs).
  • The Inclusive Practice hub is a platform that provides evidence-based resources to support students with disability and additional needs. Access easy to download and print materials, learn from practical online resources and utilise evidence-based strategies to support and strengthen inclusive practice in schools.
  • A restorative approach that focuses on building, maintaining and restoring positive relationships.

This resource provides further information about Aboriginal Language programs in schools, Aboriginal Language and Cultural Nests, Languages outside of the Nests and an Aboriginal Language and Cultural Nest factsheet and guidelines.

This resource provides further information about the partnership with the NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group Inc (AECG), including working in partnership with AECG, the Partnership Agreement, Connecting to Country, Healthy Culture, Healthy Country, professional development and local representatives.

  • Positive Behaviour for Learning Tier 1 School-wide and Tier 1 Classroom Systems of support eLearning. This eLearning focuses on flexible, continuously available prevention and early interventions for all students to reduce inappropriate behaviour in all learning spaces before it becomes chronic.
  • Classroom Management Fundamentals eLearning. This eLearning provides the fundamentals to help teachers establish essential good classroom practice. Classroom Management Fundamentals eLearning is divided into five modules: setting the scene, positive classroom environments, establishing your practice, active engagement and responding to student behaviour.
  • Understanding Behaviour. This eLearning was developed with the Professional Learning Non-Teaching Staff team. It is designed to provide an overview of why non-teaching staff need to understand behaviour, what factors may contribute towards it, and some simple strategies to respond to behaviour across a continuum.
  • Trauma Informed Practice. Trauma-informed Practice for Improved Learning and Wellbeing consists of four, 90-minute modules, which provide a foundational understanding of childhood trauma, its causes and impact for schools. Participants learn to recognise the signs that students have experienced trauma and develop a repertoire of inclusive strategies to mitigate its impact at school, both as individuals and through the implementation of school-wide systems.
  • Disability and additional learning and support. This link provides further information about Disability Standards for Education eLearning and resources that explain the Disability Standards and outlines how the responsibility of schools towards students with disability should be met. There is also information about a suite of supported online courses which are available to support classroom teachers and support staff from the departments' primary schools, high schools and special schools. Each of the courses is registered with the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA).
  • PAX Good Behaviour Game (primary school) behaviour management. This resource provides additional information about the PAX Good Behaviour Game. PAX means peace, productivity, health and happiness, and is what the PAX Good Behaviour Game helps create and strengthen in each classroom. PAX GBG consists of proven behavioural strategies used daily by teachers with students. The 10 evidence-based and trauma informed strategies build self-regulation in children, strengthen peer networks, reduce impulsivity and teach prosocial decision-making in children. The ‘peaceful’ classroom environment supports learning, wellbeing, participation and confidence.
  • Whole school professional learning about the additional needs of vulnerable EAL/D students and students from refugee backgrounds.
  • Safeguarding Kids Together modules. These modules and factsheets provide further information to offer schools on-the-ground specialist knowledge and support to foster continuous improvement in health, safety and wellbeing. SKT is available to all NSW public schools.
  • Training for school administrative staff to develop understanding on supporting students and families from refugee backgrounds.
  • Connecting to Country professional learning for principals, teachers and all department staff. Connecting to Country is an Aboriginal community cultural awareness teaching programme. This programme provides a much-needed cultural conduit between the States teaching fraternity and Aboriginal peoples and communities. Teachers are offered a unique opportunity to engage directly with Aboriginal Australians at the local community level.
  • English as an additional language or dialect education resources. This resource provides more information about EAL/D learnings, funding for schools, supporting documents and state-wide staffroom.
  • The implementation of programs to support newly arrived EAL/D students and students from refugee backgrounds and their families such as The Welcome Program, Settling in Program and Families In Cultural Transition. These resources provide more information about the New Arrivals Program and supporting refugee students.
  • Using support personnel such as Bilingual School Learning Support Officers, translated documents and the use of interpreting services to facilitate communication with families. These resources provide more information about interpreting and translating services.
  • Additional support for newly arrived EAL/D students at points of transition, including enrolment in first Australian school, transition to high school from a primary school or an Intensive English Centre
  • Henry Parkes Equity Resource Centre including over 45,000 resources. This resource provides more information about the equity resource library’s collection and conference facilities.
  • School’s in for refugees (SIFR): A whole-school approach to supporting students and families of refugee background.
  • The Rainbow Program for Children in Refugee Families - Foundation House (9-12 years age).
  • Jill Sherlock Memorial Library provides educational and curriculum resources to meet the learning and support needs of students with disability.
  • Mental health programs and partnerships.
  • Student support officers work in schools to enhance the wellbeing and learning outcomes of students. SSOs support the implementation of the school’s whole-of-school approach to wellbeing, helping students develop social and emotional skills through targeted strengths-based programs and strategies that build resilience, coping skills and positive relationships. They also have a pivotal role in working collaboratively with external and other government agencies in their support of students and their families.
  • Consider data from the Australian Early Development Census (AEDC), Best Start, Tell them From Me Surveys, NAPLAN, Record of School Achievement, information from the NSW Transition to School Statement, and the use of Transition to School programs to ensure prevention strategies are well suited to incoming students.
  • Body Brain Belonging: The Story Behind Behaviour, via School Link. This resource provides practical tools and strategies to support emotional regulation and behaviour in schools.
  • Accessing external providers to present sessions on cyber-safety, anti-bullying and other school-identified areas.
  • Teachers reflect on practice to evaluate factors affecting behaviour.

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.

Early intervention for all or some students

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, instructional strategies, logical consequences, and consultation.

In addition to whole-school prevention strategies, school staff can encourage positive behavioural expectations by incorporating early practices and strategies to support effective teaching and learning practices in school. For example, to maximise the benefits for students with disability, schools must make reasonable adjustments as soon as possible (see Legal Issues Bulletin on Disability Discrimination).

Continue the use of prevention strategies for all students, and include additional supports. Prevention strategies may include, but not limited to, the following.

Classroom management:

  • Communication with parents, and where relevant, the use of communication books.

  • Explicit teaching and modeling of specific skills including behaviour expectations and social skills.

  • Curriculum links, particularly in PDHPE, History and English (literature)

  • Restorative practices and circle time

  • Drama and role play

  • Self-regulation training – brain breaks, yoga, heavy work, weighted blankets

  • Positive Behaviour for Learning Tier 1 School-wide and Classroom systems of support eLearning. This eLearning focuses on flexible, continuously available prevention and early interventions for all students to reduce inappropriate behaviour in all learning spaces before it becomes chronic

  • Disability and additional learning and support including disability standards and supported online learning. This link provides further information about Disability Standards for Education eLearning and resources that explain the Disability Standards and outlines how the responsibility of schools towards students with disability should be met. There is also information about a suite of supported online courses which are available to support classroom teachers and support staff from the departments' primary schools, high schools and special schools. Each of the courses is registered with the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA). The courses address a range of diverse disabilities and additional learning and support needs. Department staff can undertake the courses with a trained tutor, studying in a learning group and by individual online study.

  • PAX Good Behaviour Game (K-6) behaviour management. This resource provides additional information about the PAX Good Behaviour Game. PAX means peace, productivity, health and happiness, and is what the PAX Good Behaviour Game helps create and strengthen in each classroom. PAX GBG consists of proven behavioural strategies used daily by teachers with students. The 10 evidence-based and trauma informed strategies build self-regulation in children, strengthen peer networks, reduce impulsivity and teach prosocial decision-making in children. The ‘peaceful’ classroom environment supports learning, wellbeing, participation and confidence.

  • Got It! (Getting on Track in Time) reduces the frequency and severity of conduct problems in young children by strengthening the abilities of parents/carers, building capabilities of school staff and the capacity of school systems to respond to children with conduct problems and their families.

  • eSafety professional learning covers the latest online safety research, case studies and teaching strategies. It aims to support educators and those who work with young people to integrate online safety into their programs and student wellbeing planning.

  • The SAFEMinds program for schools offers training and resources for primary and secondary schools to help make it easier for them to identify children and young people with early signs of mental health issues and offer them school-based interventions and/or external referrals.

  • Music and drumming programs.
  • Resilience programs, such as Exercise your mood.
  • Peer support, buddy programs and mentoring.
  • Anti-bullying strategies including cyber-bullying and internet safety.
  • Anti-bullying research, advice and resources - This link provides more information about anti-bullying resources, including cyber-bullying.
  • Evidence-based mental health and wellbeing programs for schools - These resources provide more information including a mental health program list, planning template and evidence report.
  • Student Support Officers work in schools to enhance the wellbeing and learning outcomes of students. SSOs support the implementation of the school’s whole-of-school approach to wellbeing, helping students develop social and emotional skills through targeted strengths-based programs and strategies that build resilience, coping skills and positive relationships. They also have a pivotal role in working collaboratively with external and other government agencies in their support of students and their families.
  • School-based wellbeing nurses are an additional support within schools with the specific aim of supporting students’ health and wellbeing needs. They work closely with, and are part of, schools' broader learning and support and wellbeing teams. They also work with local health and social services to support students and their families on a wide range of health and wellbeing issues.
  • Refugee student counselling support team and targeted support - More information is available through this link. The Refugee student counselling team offers psychological expertise to schools to support refugee students and their families. For more information, phone 1300 579 060 or email refugeesupportteam@det.nsw.edu.au.
  • School counselling service - This link provides more information about the school counselling service. School counselling staff support students by providing a psychological counselling, assessment and intervention service.
  • Culturally appropriate programs – school identified within local communities.
  • Support programs aimed at connection to Country and community for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people.
  • Referral to school Learning and Support Team and the Learning Support Teacher professional learning.

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.

Targeted intervention for some students

School staff should facilitate positive behavioural supports (for example, making targeted and reasonable adjustments in the classroom) to support effective teaching and learning practices.

Targeted interventions are designed for students, or groups of students identified as requiring more intensive support.

Continue the use of prevention strategies, and provide additional support. Targeted intervention strategies for some students may include, but not limited to, the following.

  • Communication with parent/carer and, where relevant, communication books.

  • Modified individual expectations and goals.

  • Transition strategies – class to playground, lesson to lesson, grade to grade, school to school.

  • Calmer Classrooms resources.

  • Delivery Support ‘Team Around a School’ – Learning and Wellbeing Officer, Assistant Principal Learning and Support, Senior Psychologist Education, Behaviour Specialist, Out of Home Care Teacher, Itinerant Support Teacher Early Intervention, Support Teacher Transition, Aboriginal Community Liaison Officer, Home School Liaison Officer, Aboriginal School Liaison Officer, Assistant Principal Sensory (Hearing and Vision), Learning and Wellbeing Advisor, Learning and Wellbeing Coordinator NDIS Transition Coordinator, Networked Specialist Facilitator.
  • Itinerant Support Teachers, Early Intervention where transition to school concerns are identified by the preschool or family.
  • Use the School Supports Contacts app in the department portal to find your local team around the school staff.
  • Positive Behaviour for Learning Tier 2 – Targeted systems of support eLearning. This eLearning focusses on flexible, continuously available early interventions for students who need additional support to reduce inappropriate behaviour before it becomes chronic.

  • Introduction to Functional Behaviour Assessment eLearning. This eLearning provides the foundations understanding behaviour and that all behaviour is functionally related to the environment. By understanding why and when behaviours occur educators can develop, implement and evaluate interventions that better meets the needs of the student.

  • Professional learning on working with families and children in complex situations and engaging with the community, specifically for children in the community who have not accessed Early Childhood Education services.

Students with highly complex and challenging behaviours may need comprehensive systems of support that require regular reviews in consultation with parents, other relevant specialist staff (internal or external to the school), service providers, inter-agency partners, and/or the Delivery Support team.

Individual intervention for students

Strategies for students with highly complex and challenging behaviours require individual assessment, implementation, monitoring and review. Schools need to build capacity of school teams and teaching staff to be able to undertake functional behaviour assessments (FBA), develop an individual student support plans and risk management plans for individual students, in collaboration with parents and other department staff.

Remember to use this resource during school planning and when aligning with the Student Behaviour Policy and Procedures, and developing your School Behaviour Support and Management Plan (by end of Term 2 2023) and a student’s individual support plan. Schools do not need to implement every strategy within the care continuum to move along it. Not all these strategies may be available locally.

Individual intervention strategies for students with complex and challenging behaviour may include but are not limited to the following:

  • Communication with parent, and where relevant, the use of communication books.
  • Check-in/check-out.
  • Sensory assessment and supports.
  • Programs to explicitly teach social competence and interpersonal skills, and social-emotional skill development.
  • Negotiated playground programs.
  • Attendance programs.

The Delivery Support team will work in conjunction with the Learning and Support Team to:

  • develop appropriate behaviour expectations and strategies with other staff members
  • monitor the impact of support for individual students through continuous data collection
  • provide consistent strategies and adjustments outlined within an individual student support plan.

Students with disabilities or significant support needs may access help from itinerant support teachers (hearing and vision, conductive hearing loss, early intervention and support teacher transition) who visit schools and work directly with the student to plan and develop personalised learning and support.

Itinerant support teachers will:

  • work in partnership with the student, parents or carers, classroom teachers, the school’s learning and support team, and other support agencies or services
  • support the development of individualised, coordinated and systematic transition to school or to early intervention links with other agencies and the community
  • support the development of personalised learning and support for children in early childhood school settings and/or the first year of school.
Return to top of page Back to top