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If you need help to understand the information in this policy please contact Rutherglen High School (02) 6032 9483 or



The purpose of this policy is to ensure that all students and members of our school community understand:

  • our commitment to providing a safe and supportive learning environment for students
  • expectations for positive student behaviour
  • support available to students and families
  • our school’s policies and procedures for responding to inappropriate student behaviour.

Rutherglen High School is committed to providing a safe, secure and stimulating learning environment for all students.  We understand that students reach their full potential only when they are happy, healthy and safe, and that a positive school culture, where student participation is encouraged and valued, helps to engage students and support them in their learning. Our school acknowledges that student wellbeing and student learning outcomes are closely linked.

The objective of this policy is to support our school to create and maintain a safe, supportive and inclusive school environment consistent with our school’s values.


This policy applies to all school activities, including camps and excursions.


  1. School profile
  2. School values, philosophy and vision
  3. Wellbeing and engagement strategies
  4. Identifying students in need of support
  5. Student rights and responsibilities
  6. Student behavioural expectations
  7. Engaging with families
  8. Evaluation



1.School profile

Rutherglen High School is situated in Northeast Victoria servicing the townships of Chiltern, Rutherglen, Springhurst and Wahgunyah and the surrounding farming communities. The February enrolment in 2023 was 310. Approximately 59% of students travel by bus and a small but increasing percentage of students live over the border in NSW.

The school provides a challenging and balanced comprehensive curriculum with flexibility to meet the needs of each student. All students are able to participate in an environment which values and respects their achievements. Students are expected to display a commitment to improvement of skills and knowledge, develop self-discipline and initiative and respect themselves, each other, the staff and their environment.

Rutherglen High School employs 2 Principal class officers, 28 teaching staff as well as several Instrumental Music Teachers and 12 Educational Support staff with a number of these being employed on a part-time basis.

Students in Years 7 and 8 study a core curriculum based on the Victorian Curriculum. This involves courses of study in the Arts, English, French, Mathematics, Health & Physical Education, Science, Humanities and Technology.  Year 9 students are able to select from a range of electives and also participate in the Future Makers program as well as experiential learning through school and community based projects. In Years 10 – 12 student can select from a range of VCE units, VCE Vocational Major and the Victorian Pathways Certificate, Vocational Education and Training (VET) and School Based Apprenticeships & Traineeships (SBATS).  An Applied Learning program operates at Year 10 for students with a vocational pathway in mind.

The school provides a wide range of extracurricular and enrichment programs including: excursions, inter school sport, debating, public speaking, annual musical production, instrumental music, VCE workshops and lunchtime activities. The school also operates a variety of year level camps based around a specific theme or skill set.  These activities foster the qualities of leadership, initiative, independence, self-confidence, self-esteem, problem solving, decision making, resilience, team work and social skills.

The school is located on 13.95 hectares of land and provides an attractive and stimulating environment for students and community use. There are excellent outdoor sporting facilities on site including the Rutherglen High School Community Centre. The school is close to all other sporting facilities in the town, including the Shire swimming pool, and enjoys close cooperation from all sporting bodies. Students in the school have an outstanding record in interschool sport.

School Council is committed to continually upgrading the buildings and grounds. A particular emphasis is placed on upgrading resources to keep abreast with changing technology. A very successful BYOD program operates with over 90% of students participating. In 2012 $1.6 million was expended through the Trade Training Centre program to upgrade the food, wood and metal facilities and support teaching of VET subjects. The $1.6 million STEM centre was completed in October 2018. It features teaching spaces which can be quickly re-configured to support a variety of group sizes and teaching and learning approaches.

There is a very effective welfare and student management policy in place, supported by year level co-ordinators and a Student Welfare Co-ordinator. The school also has the services of a School Nurse and a doctor through the Doctors in Schools initiative. A Careers Advisor is available to help students make appropriate choices in school and beyond. School Captains, House Captains and the Student Representative Council foster student participation and responsibility.

Parental involvement is welcomed and high value is placed on the home school partnership. The school encourages and enjoys strong links with the community.  Rutherglen High School is a vital and active educational institution. It provides a caring, orderly, and disciplined environment in which learning can flourish and be enjoyed.

2.School values, philosophy and vision  

Rutherglen High School’s values are collaboration, respect and equity. Rutherglen High School’s aim is to provide Rutherglen and surrounding communities with the highest quality educational programs in high quality and purpose-built facilities.

Our vision is to instil community commitment, confidence and high expectations in lifelong learning by:

  • Creating a community that is literate, numerate, curious, articulate, resilient and passionate
  • Developing young people who are engaged, motivated and challenged to fulfil their potential
  • Constructing curriculum, pedagogy and teacher professionalism to achieve above expected outcomes for all students at each stage of learning
  • Maximising educational opportunities and creating purposeful and diverse pathways for all students
  • Developing students who are highly employable with values of resilience, optimism, self-respect and who strive for personal best
  • Developing partnerships with other schools, community organisations and business which can empower a community through learning
  • Integrating education and community/family services into one precinct


3.Wellbeing and engagement strategies

Rutherglen High School has developed a range of strategies to promote engagement, an inclusive and safe environment, positive behaviour, and respectful relationships for all students in our school. We recognise the importance of student friendships and peer support in helping children and students feel safe and less isolated We acknowledge that some students may need extra social, emotional or educational support at school, and that the needs of students will change over time as they grow and learn.

A summary of the universal (whole of school), targeted (year group specific) and individual engagement strategies used by our school is included below:


  • high and consistent expectations of all staff, students and parents and carers
  • prioritise positive relationships between staff and students, recognising the fundamental role this plays in building and sustaining student wellbeing
  • creating a culture that is inclusive, engaging and supportive and that embraces and celebrates diversity and empowers all students to participate and feel valued
  • welcoming all parents/carers and being responsive to them as partners in learning
  • analysing and being responsive to a range of school data such as attendance, Attitudes to School Survey, parent survey data, student management data and school level assessment data
  • deliver a broad curriculum including VET programs, VCE and VCAL to ensure that students are able to choose subjects and programs that are tailored to their interests, strengths and aspirations
  • teachers at Rutherglen High School adopt a broad range of teaching and assessment approaches to effectively respond to the diverse learning styles, strengths and needs of our students and follow the standards set by the Victorian Institute of Teaching
  • our school’s Statement of Values and School Philosophy are incorporated into our curriculum and promoted to students, staff and parents so that they are shared and celebrated as the foundation of our school community
  • carefully planned transition programs to support students moving into different stages of their schooling
  • positive behaviour and student achievement is acknowledged in the classroom, and formally in school assemblies and communication to parents
  • monitor student attendance and implement attendance improvement strategies at a whole-school, cohort and individual level
  • students have the opportunity to contribute to and provide feedback on decisions about school operations through the Student Representative Council and other forums including year group meetings and Peer Support Groups. Students are also encouraged to speak with their teachers, Year Level Coordinator, Assistant Principal and Principal whenever they have any questions or concerns.
  • create opportunities for cross—age connections amongst students through school plays, athletics, music programs and peer support programs
  • all students are welcome to self-refer to the Student Wellbeing Coordinator, School Nurse, Year Level Coordinators, Assistant Principal and Principal if they would like to discuss a particular issue or feel as though they may need support of any kind. We are proud to have an ‘open door’ policy where students and staff are partners in learning
  • we engage in school wide positive behaviour support with our staff and students, which includes programs such as Respectful Relationships
  • programs, incursions and excursions developed to address issue specific needs or behaviour (i.e. anger management programs)
  • opportunities for student inclusion (i.e. sports teams, clubs, recess and lunchtime activities)
  • buddy programs, peers support programs
  • measures are in place to empower our school community to identify, report and address inappropriate and harmful behaviours such as racism, homophobia and other forms of discrimination or harassment.


  • each year group has a Year Level Coordinator, who monitors the health and wellbeing of students in their year, and act as a point of contact for students who may need additional support
  • Koorie students are supported to engage fully in their education, in a positive learning environment that understands and appreciates the strength of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture – refer to our Aboriginal Learning, Wellbeing and Safety Action Plan for further information
  • our English as a second language students are supported through our EAL program, and all cultural and linguistically diverse students are supported to feel safe and included in our school.
  • we support learning and wellbeing outcomes of students from refugee background
  • we provide a positive and respectful learning environment for our students who identify as LGBTIQ+ and follow the Department’s policy on LGBTIQ Student Support
  • all students in Out of Home Care are supported in accordance with the Department’s policy on Supporting Students in Out-of-Home Care including being appointed a Learning Mentor, having an Individual Learning Plan and a Student Support Group (SSG) and being referred to Student Support Services for an Educational Needs Assessment
  • students with a disability are supported to be able to engage fully in their learning and school activities in accordance with the Department’s policy on Students with Disability, such as through reasonable adjustments to support access to learning programs, consultation with families and where required, student support groups and individual education plans
  • wellbeing and health staff will undertake health promotion and social skills development in response to needs identified by student wellbeing data, classroom teachers or other school staff each year
  • staff will apply a trauma-informed approach to working with students who have experienced trauma
  • students enrolled under the Department’s international student program are supported in accordance with our legal obligations and Department policy and guidelines at: International Student Program
  • all students from Year 10 and above will be assisted to develop a Career Action Plan, with targeted goals and support to plan for their future
  • Rutherglen High School assists students to plan their Year 10 work experience, supported by their Career Action Plan


Rutherglen High School implements a range of strategies that support and promote individual engagement. These can include:

  • building constructive relationships with students at risk or students who are vulnerable due to complex individual circumstances
  • meeting with student and their parent/carer to talk about how best to help the student engage with school
  • developing an Individual Learning Plan and/or a Behaviour Support Plan
  • considering if any environmental changes need to be made, for example changing the classroom set up
  • referring the student to:
    • school-based wellbeing supports
    • Student Support Services
    • Appropriate external supports such as council based youth and family services, other allied health professionals, headspace, child and adolescent mental health services or ChildFirst
    • Re-engagement programs such as Navigator

Where necessary the school will support the student’s family to engage by:

  • being responsive and sensitive to changes in the student’s circumstances and health and wellbeing
  • collaborating, where appropriate and with the support of the student and their family, with any external allied health professionals, services or agencies that are supporting the student
  • monitoring individual student attendance and developing an Attendance Improvement Plans in collaboration with the student and their family
  • engaging with our regional Koorie Engagement Support Officers
  • running regular Student Support Group meetings for all students:
    • with a disability
    • in Out of Home Care
    • with other complex needs that require ongoing support and monitoring.


  1. Identifying students in need of support

Rutherglen High School is committed to providing the necessary support to ensure our students are supported intellectually, emotionally and socially. The Student Wellbeing team plays a significant role in developing and implementing strategies help identify students in need of support and enhance student wellbeing. Rutherglen High School will utilise the following information and tools to identify students in need of extra emotional, social or educational support:

  • personal, health and learning information gathered upon enrolment and while the student is enrolled
  • attendance records
  • academic performance
  • observations by school staff such as changes in engagement, behaviour, self-care, social connectedness and motivation
  • attendance, detention and suspension data
  • engagement with families
  • self-referrals or referrals from peers


  1. Student rights and responsibilities

All members of our school community have a right to experience a safe and supportive school environment. We expect that all students, staff, parents and carers treat each other with respect and dignity. Our school’s Statement of Values highlights the rights and responsibilities of members of our community.

Students have the right to:

  • participate fully in their education
  • feel safe, secure and happy at school
  • learn in an environment free from bullying, harassment, violence, racism, discrimination or intimidation
  • express their ideas, feelings and concerns.

Students have the responsibility to:

  • participate fully in their educational program
  • display positive behaviours that demonstrate respect for themselves, their peers, their teachers and members of the school community
  • respect the right of others to learn.

Students who may have a complaint or concern about something that has happened at school are encouraged to speak to their parents or carers and approach a trusted teacher or a member of the school leadership team. Further information about raising a complaint or concern is available in our Complaints Policy.

  1. Student behavioural expectations

Behavioural expectations of students are grounded in our school’s Statement of Values/Student code of conduct.


Violence, bullying, and other offensive and harmful behaviours such as racism, harassment and discrimination will not be tolerated and will be managed in accordance with this policy. Bullying will be managed in accordance with our Bullying Prevention Policy.

When a student acts in breach of the behaviour standards of our school community, Rutherglen High School will institute a staged response, consistent with the Department’s policies on behaviour, discipline and student wellbeing and engagement. Where appropriate, parents will be informed about the inappropriate behaviour and the disciplinary action taken by teachers and other school staff.

Our school considers, explores and implement positive and non-punitive interventions to support student behaviour before considering disciplinary measures such as detention, withdrawal of privileges or withdrawal from class.

Disciplinary measures may be used as part of a staged response to inappropriate behaviour in combination with other engagement and support strategies to ensure that factors that may have contributed to the student’s behaviour are identified and addressed. Disciplinary measures at our school will be applied fairly and consistently. Students will always be provided with an opportunity to be heard.

Disciplinary measures that may be applied include:

  • warning a student that their behaviour is inappropriate
  • teacher controlled consequences such as moving a student in a classroom or other reasonable and proportionate responses to misbehaviour
  • withdrawal of privileges
  • referral to the Year Level Coordinator
  • restorative practices
  • detentions
  • behaviour support and intervention meetings
  • suspension
  • expulsion

Suspension, expulsion and restrictive interventions are measures of last resort and may only be used in situations consistent with Department policy, available at:

In line with Ministerial Order 1125, no student aged 8 or younger will be expelled without the approval of the Secretary of the Department of Education and Training.

The Principal of Rutherglen High School is responsible for ensuring all suspensions and expulsions are recorded on CASES21.

Corporal punishment is prohibited by law and will not be used in any circumstance at our school.

  1. Engaging with families

Rutherglen High School values the input of parents and carers, and we will strive to support families to engage in their child’s learning and build their capacity as active learners. We aim to be partners in learning with parents and carers in our school community.

We work hard to create successful partnerships with parents and carers by:

  • ensuring that all parents have access to our school policies and procedures, available on our school website
  • maintaining an open, respectful line of communication between parents and staff, supported by our Communicating with School Staff policy.
  • providing parent volunteer opportunities so that families can contribute to school activities
  • involving families with homework and other curriculum-related activities
  • involving families in school decision making
  • coordinating resources and services from the community for families
  • including families in Student Support Groups, and developing individual plans for students.


  1. Evaluation

Rutherglen High School will collect data each year to understand the frequency and types of wellbeing issues that are experienced by our students so that we can measure the success or otherwise of our school based strategies and identify emerging trends or needs.

Sources of data that will be assessed on an annual basis include:

  • student survey data
  • incidents data
  • school reports
  • parent survey
  • case management
  • CASES21, including attendance and absence data
  • SOCS

Rutherglen High School will also regularly monitor available data dashboards to ensure any wellbeing or engagement issues are acted upon in a timely manner and any intervention occurs as soon as possible.


This policy will be communicated to our school community in the following ways:

  • Available publicly on our school’s website
  • Included in staff induction processes
  • Made available in hard copy from school administration upon request

Our school will also ensure it follows the mandatory parent/carer notification requirements with respect to suspensions and expulsions outlined in the Department’s policies at:

Further information and resources

The following Department of Education and Training policies are relevant to this Student Engagement and Wellbeing Policy:

The following school policies are also relevant to this Student Wellbeing and Engagement Policy:

  • Child Safety and Wellbeing Policy
  • Bullying Prevention Policy
  • Inclusion and Diversity Policy
  • Statement of Values and School Philosophy


Policy last reviewed 8th August 2023
Consultation School Council DATE: 24th August 2023
Approved by Principal
Next scheduled review date 8th August 2025


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