Strategy models

The NSW Department of Education has piloted and implemented a number of strategies over the years to provide different systems and processes to support students from refugee backgrounds. The strategies also aimed to build the capacity of schools to achieve the best possible outcomes for students to recover from traumatic experiences and make up for lost time as a result of disrupted education.

EAL/D education leadership strategy

The current EAL/D Education Leadership Strategy provides experienced EAL/D specialists as EAL/D Education Leaders to support schools across the state in evaluating, planning and implementing effective EAL/D strategies to enhance student learning outcomes. The strategy also enables the support of students from refugee backgrounds and assists teachers and school leaders to foster EAL/D and refugee student wellbeing. The EAL/D Education Strategy commenced in 2021 and will continue through 2024 and is built on the highly effective structure of the Refugee Leadership Strategy.

Refugee leadership strategy

The Refugee Leadership Strategy was developed in response to unprecedented high numbers of refugee student enrolments in NSW government schools. Through the strategy, 18 Refugee Support Leaders (15.4 FTE) worked with principals in targeted schools to enhance existing provisions and support systems for students from refugee backgrounds.

Refugee Support Leaders:

  • Collaborated with school leaders to use data to inform planning and implementation of whole school strategies to support students from refugee backgrounds.
  • Worked with schools to support students from refugee backgrounds through improved transition processes.
  • Worked with learning and support teams to implement personalised approaches to supporting students from refugee backgrounds.
  • Collaborated with school leaders and staff to provide opportunities and encourage refugee background families and community members to participate in the life of the school.
  • Coordinated and delivered professional learning for school staff, including school leadership teams.
  • Promoted collaboration between schools and other government and non-government organisations supporting students from refugee backgrounds and their families.

Strategy evaluation

A preliminary evaluation of the Strategy, conducted in 2017 by the Department's Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation (CESE) indicated that the strategy was having a highly positive impact in targeted schools. The evaluation found that the strategy significantly improved the confidence of principals and teachers at targeted schools in working with and supporting students from refugee backgrounds. There was strong agreement from staff and principals that their capacity in working with students from refugee backgrounds had been enhanced, and that cultural and environmental change had occurred within the schools engaged in the strategy.

On the basis of this positive evaluation, the Strategy was extended for a further 12 and then another 12 months: three years in total.

An evaluation of the Strategy was conducted. The evaluation report provides an outline of the impact and the learning from this Strategy over the years 2017 – 2019. For a copy of the evaluation report please email:

Refugee Transition Program/Intensive English Program

The Intensive English Program (IEP) and the Refugee Transition Program (RTP) was an initiative from 2008 – 2014 to support the settlement, welfare, education and transition needs of students from refugee backgrounds in primary and high schools.

The IEP provided additional English language support to a number of targeted primary schools with high refugee student enrolments whilst the RTP provided additional teacher time to assist students from refugee backgrounds in transition from intensive English programs into mainstream high school and to further education, training or employment.

Each participating school used a staffing supplementation to deliver a planned and integrated program to meet the needs of their targeted students.

While the program varied between schools, the content was to include a component in each of the following key areas:

  • English language, and literacy skills

  • Numeracy skills

  • Curriculum concepts and skills related to key learning areas

  • ICT, study and organisational skills

  • Educational and vocational pathways

  • School and workplace cultures and expectations.

Schools reported the program had an impact on the outcomes and confidence of students from refugee backgrounds and were more aware of the need for staff to engage in professional learning. As a result, many schools in following years adapted the program and allocated additional staffing to support newly arrived refugee students in their schools.


  • DoE

Business Unit:

  • Educational Standards
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