Dimension: setting expectations and promoting inclusion

This dimension is part of the Positive Climate for Learning priority and is identified as a​​ high-impact Improvement Initiative.



  • Supportive and inclusive schools foster school connectedness and engagement with learning.
  • They ensure that their school vision and values are embedded in everyday practices and interactions and they work across their communities to implement a shared approach to supporting the health, wellbeing, inclusion and engagement of all students.
  • Safe, supportive and inclusive schools celebrate and protect diversity and understanding of others, acknowledging the right of every child, no matter their background or ability, to achieve the best possible outcomes at school.
  • High standards are enforced, employing explicit strategies, policies, procedures and programs to teach and encourage respectful behaviour, school connectedness and engagement with learning.
  • Effective schools set behavioural expectations, building teachers' understandings of positive classroom behaviour and engagement practices and ensuring students have the tools and skills to develop positive and self-regulating behaviours.
  • Metacognition and self-management approaches have high levels of impact on student achievement and wellbeing, enhancing students' resilience, optimism, confidence, social and emotional skills.

Essential Elements

A number of elements are essential to enable effective work within the Framework for Improving Student Outcomes. Eight Essential Elements form the foundation upon which improvement is built. The Essential Element for Setting expectations and promoting inclusion is:

Essential Element 5: Whole-school approach to health, wellbeing, inclusion and engagement.

The Essential Elements are evident at the Evolving stage of each Continuum (below) and are further articulated in the Embedding and Excelling stages in some dimensions.


The Continuum for Setting expectations and promoting inclusion describes a range of proficiency levels (Emerging, Evolving, Embedding and Excelling) that assists principals and teachers to identify areas of practice that require attention in order to deliver improved student outcomes.

Component: The school fosters inclusion and engagement

Diversity is valued especially as part of special events and programs which build knowledge and understanding of diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds. Staff engage in professional development to build understanding of managing challenging behaviours, engagement practices, building resilience and creating an inclusive school. 

Diversity is valued and its strengths reinforced through the implementation of school programs that are responsive to different cultural and linguistic backgrounds. School policies, programs and practices are inclusive and respectful of difference. The school aligns its policies and practices to address issues of vulnerability and inclusion. Practices to improve engagement and behavioural climate in classrooms and the school are developed and implemented. 

Diversity and understanding of others is promoted and celebrated within the school. The school draws on the knowledge and support of community members with diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds to develop class and school programs. Evidence-based, high impact teaching practices are used consistently to engage students in their learning. The school regularly reviews its data and evaluates practices that promote and prioritise inclusion and engagement across the school community.

Diversity is celebrated, promoted and protected throughout the school. The school is well integrated into the broader community. Relationships with the broader community enrich student understanding and experience and lead to participation in community activities that celebrate and value diversity. Integrated instructional and behavioural programs, ensure students are engaged, motivated and thriving. Staff minimise disruptive behaviour by actively developing students’ social and cognitive skills and providing an inclusive learning environment.

Component: The school has a culture of high expectations

The school has a documented framework of behaviour, attitudes, and expectations, based on the school vision and values that supports student achievement and wellbeing. Teachers set learning goals for students and monitor achievement.

High expectations around student behaviour and learning are aligned to the school’s vision and values and are documented in policies and guidelines. These are promoted to the school community. Teachers engage with students in setting and monitoring learning goals.

The school’s values and vision are explicit in all policies and guidelines and these are shared with the community. They are evident in teacher and student dispositions and actions. Students set meaningful learning goals and monitor and assess their progress with support from their teachers. Aspirational goals are discussed and developed for all students.

A whole community commitment to the school’s vision, values and high expectations supports a learning environment that maximises success for all students. Students set aspirational learning goals and they monitor and evaluate progress independently.

Component: The school promotes student safety and wellbeing

The school sets out clear expectations of student behaviour and documents intervention strategies to deal with all aspects of student misbehaviour including critical incidents and bullying. The school develops policies and practices that ensure it fulfils its obligations to provide a safe learning environment and to minimise risk.

Students are familiar with behaviour expectations and consequences for inappropriate behaviour. The school’s curriculum plan includes explicit instruction on bullying prevention, conflict resolution and pro-social behaviours. The school’s comprehensive safety and wellbeing policies and practices are implemented and seen as important in supporting student learning success and in reducing risk.

The school works with parents/carers and families to develop students’ social and emotional skills in self-managing their behaviour. Student voice and agency is used to help develop and promote school anti-bullying and behavioural policies. Collected data shows evidence of improved learning outcomes resulting from an environment where student well-being and safety is prioritised and actively promoted across the community.  

The school employs a range of strategies targeted at students, parents/ carers and the broader community that helps to maintain a safe, respectful and inclusive learning environment. Students take an active role in promoting safety and in reducing inappropriate behaviour. There is a strong culture of mutual trust and support between the school and the community in the promotion and maintenance of a positive, safe and inclusive environment.

Component: The school supports students and manages behaviour

The school recognises that good teaching practice and positive relationships are important to student engagement in reducing instances of disruptive student behaviour. There are clear expectations that all students respect the learning environment of the school and do not disrupt the learning of others. Teachers prioritise academic instruction during class time.

The school expands teacher capacity and skill, providing effective, ongoing professional learning to enhance staff/student relationships. The school develops targeted interventions for students and cohorts to support pro-social and self-regulating behaviours. Teachers know how to minimise interruptions and maintain on-task learning in class most of the time.

Behaviour management, wellbeing and engagement strategies are evidence based and sufficiently flexible to support all students. The school collaborates with parents/carers and students to develop and implement these consistently. All classes provide safe and welcoming learning environments in which students respect and value on-task learning.

The school has established processes to monitor and minimise the risk of student disengagement and build the capacity of students to self-regulate their behaviour. The effectiveness of behaviour management, student wellbeing and safety practices are periodically evaluated and updated as needed. The school is a safe and welcoming learning environment which the community respects and values. Students are intrinsically motivated to maximise their learning time.

Printable resource

Continuum as an A3 print out (pdf - 221.63kb)

Case studies

To see examples of how schools in Victoria are implementing the FISO dimension: Setting expectations and promoting inclusion see: Setting expectations and promoting inclusion case studies.

Evidence base

To view the Evidence Base for the FISO dimension: Setting expectations and promoting inclusion see: Evidence - Setting expectations and promoting inclusion (docx - 647.33kb).


Why should my school consider this improvement initiative?

Every child has a right to be acknowledged and supported to achieve their full potential. These are values that should be embedded in curriculum design and should flow through the daily activities and experiences of your school. They ensure that children of different backgrounds and with special needs can be successfully included and encouraged to participate with the other children in your school.

'High expectations enable children to achieve the best possible outcomes in both their academic achievement and their wellbeing. In a study by Schiff & Tatar (2003) most children reported that significant teachers – those making a positive difference – expect them to succeed. High expectations from parents, professionals and peers are linked to self-esteem, children's sense of agency and academic motivation. These factors in turn lead to educational success (Ahmed, et al, 2008; Patrick,  Mantzicopoulos,  Samarapungavan & French, 2008).' 

 Evidence Paper

Practice Principle 3: High expectations for every child Saffigna, Church & Tayler 2011

How will my school know if we should focus on this improvement initiative?

Consider the following:

  • What perception do staff, students and parents/carers have of the school as inclusive, safe, respectful and orderly?
  • Are there behaviours that are impacting on the opportunity for all students to learn?
  • Is there regular interaction and collaboration to address common issues regarding curriculum, assessment, instruction and the achievement of all students?
  • To what extent do members of the school community have formal ways to provide input regarding the optimal functioning of the school and how often is input sought?
  • To what extent is there a culture of respectful relationships in the school - between staff, students, and parents/carers?

What can my school focus on?

The school community could focus on actions that expand teachers' capacity and skills through:

  • a review of the behavioural expectations for both staff and students
  • developing strategies for encouraging respectful, inclusive and positive  behaviour  and interactions by all members of the school community
  • developing appropriate responses to behaviours of concern
  • the analysis of data to inform decision-making about areas of behavioural need.

Where to next?

If you choose to focus on this initiative, the strategies and actions below may assist you to develop your implementation plan:

  • use classroom management strategies that integrate with effective academic instruction in a positive and safe school climate to maximise success for all students.
  • provide consistent responses to preventing antisocial behaviour and responding to situations in a calm, non-confrontational manner
  • promote informative corrective feedback, maximise academic success, and acknowledge pro-social skills
  • provide effective on-going professional development to improve the social culture and behavioural climate of classrooms and the school
  • work with the whole-school community to ensure positive behavioural expectations are set and understood
  • review existing student behaviour policies and guidelines in consultation with students, staff and parents/carers
  • provide guidance to parents/carers on ways to support the school's positive behavioural expectations in the home
  • plan and implement a shared approach to supporting the health, wellbeing, inclusion and engagement of all students
  • develop and implement a whole-school approach to prevention and positive development with a focus on:
    • health promotion and respectful relationships
    • student engagement and connectedness to school
    • high standards and expectations of behaviour for staff and students
    • creating safe, resilient and positive learning environments
    • transition periods
  • engage in targeted professional learning to build teachers' understanding of positive classroom behaviour and engagement practices, including practices to respond to trauma if required
  • undertake an audit of teachers' behaviour management skills and their confidence in managing challenging classroom behaviour to identify areas where professional learning can support strengthened behaviour management capacity
  • complete an audit of their universal practices that support positive student behaviour and learning
  • seek a school to mentor and guide you to review your practices and develop an action plan with tested strategies 
  • ensure behaviour data and management practices are actively and regularly discussed, monitored and refined
  • ensure students have the tools, skills and modelling to enable them to develop positive and self-regulating behaviours
  • develop a coordinated approach to identify and meet additional student need and support their development of self-regulating behaviours, including:
    • support for children and young people with additional needs (e.g. medical, mental health, behaviour, developmental, disability, learning difficulties)
    • differentiation of educational offering based on individual need
    • approaches to absenteeism and re-engagement.

How can the Child Safe Standards support us to implement this initiative?

The Child Safe Standards set clear behavioural expectations in relation to appropriate behaviour with children. Ministerial Order 870, which operationalises the Standards in schools, clearly requires schools to develop and make publicly available a code of conduct that sets standards about the way in which school staff members are expected to behave with children. The code of conduct takes into account the interests of school staff and the needs of all children.

Compliance with Ministerial Order 870 will contribute to the work schools are already doing to set expectations and promote inclusion.

For more information, see:

For more information, see: Positive Climate for Learning priority