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.



A key driver of school improvement is raising and maintaining expectations of students. Schools and teachers need to know and understand their students and families, and believe all students can learn. They sustain an individual and collective sense of efficacy by actively promoting students' sense of pride and self-respect.

Inclusive education ensures that all children and young people living with disabilities or additional needs can participate, achieve and grow. Students with different abilities and needs are not discriminated against, and reasonable adjustments are made to enable them to participate in education on the same basis as their peers.

Safe, supportive and inclusive schools promote, protect and celebrate diversity. They actively prioritise understanding of others, acknowledging the right of every child, no matter their identity, background or ability, to achieve the best possible outcomes at school.

Improvement measures

Results from system surveys, available in Panorama, can be used to measure progress, and as success indicators. Suggested surveys include:

  • School Staff Survey – 'collective efficacy' and 'collective focus on student learning' factors
  • Attitudes to School Survey – the 'high expectations for success', 'effective classroom behaviour', 'sense of inclusion', 'respect for diversity' and 'managing bullying' factors
  • Parent Opinion Survey – the 'high expectations for success', 'student safety', 'promoting positive behaviour', 'managing bullying' and 'respect for diversity' factors.

The School Staff Survey 'collective efficacy' factor and Attitudes to School Survey 'managing bullying' factor are used in calculating a school's performance group using the Differentiated School Performance Method (DSPM).

Supporting resources

School-wide Positive Behaviour Support

Safe Schools


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 strengthens engagement

Leaders, in conjunction with staff and key stakeholders, develop a Student Engagement Policy that establishes a school-wide approach to optimising student attendance and engagement. Leaders set high expectations for attendance and implement early intervention approaches to address absence. Leaders oversee the documentation of the school’s enrolment and induction processes, ensuring that reasonable adjustments are made for students and families with diverse needs.

Leaders oversee the introduction of a positive behaviour framework. Teachers build their capacity to subtly and unobtrusively intervene when a student starts to distract other learners. Leaders and teachers work with parents/ carers/kin and students to address the needs of students at risk of disengaging with school/learning.

Leaders and teachers observe actions endorsed by the school’s positive behaviours framework. Leaders and teachers co-design a set of school-endorsed teaching techniques to help minimise classroom interruptions and maintain on-task learning. Teachers design their practice to respond to the various learning needs of individuals and groups, especially for those at risk of disengaging, or with special needs.

Leaders use data collected through the school’s positive behaviours framework to monitor and minimise the risk of student disengagement. Leaders and teachers implement good teaching practice and build positive to strengthen students’ engagement, effort and belief in their capacity to succeed. Leaders and teachers receive feedback identifying the level of student support across all classes, helping to provide safe and welcoming environments for on task learning.

Component: The school strengthens inclusion

Leaders and teachers develop and document a Child Safe policy and plan. Leaders and teachers establish a respectful environment, inclusive of students and families from diverse backgrounds and communities. Leaders, teachers, students and parents/carers/kin share the view that all students should be equally valued and catered for regardless of their diverse needs and backgrounds. Teachers encourage and support parents/carers/kin participation in decision-making about their child with diverse needs. Leaders support teachers to work with parents/ carers/kin to make decisions in the best interest of the child.

Leaders assign a senior staff member to coordinate a team approach, ensuring the availability of a wide range of services and supports for students with diverse needs. Leaders establish processes for identifying the needs, interests and strengths of students with diverse needs, working with teachers to support their classroom practice. Leaders allocate resources to ensure that education support staff and Area multidisciplinary teams are engaged to support individual students as required.

School governance and leaders make reasonable adjustments to offer support for students with diverse needs. Teachers build a collaborative partnership with parents/carers/ kin respecting their understanding of their children’s learning needs, development and achievement. Leaders work with Area multidisciplinary team experts annually to complete a cohort specific, inclusive climate assessment to identify opportunities for and barriers to inclusion. They plan for adjustments that will enhance the whole-school culture for inclusion.

Teachers support parents/carers/ kin to participate in decision-making, and to access facilities and services. Students’ changing needs are evaluated in a timely, proactive and strategic manner, in collaboration with their families. Leaders and teachers provide additional programs for students with diverse needs, and utilise external support/agencies if unable to provide these internally.

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 positive climate for learning priority area see: Evidence - Positive climate for learning evidence base


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