Frequently Asked Questions

Berry Street Education Model - Frequently Asked Questions

Many schools want to increase school engagement for their most struggling students.

These may be:

  • Students who struggle with self-control, emotional regulation, poor attachment and relationship skills, chronic stress, or deficits in learning
  • Students with a prior history of school disengagement
  • Students who experience the effects of chronic stress
  • Students with who are trauma-affected or exposed to traumatic stressors
  • Students who need to build personal stamina for independent learning
  • High achieving students who require strategies for personal resiliency

The BSEM training sounds great! How do I get it at my school?

Please don’t hesitate to give our Business Manager a call on (03) 9429 9266. We’ll work out a solution that will be a fit for your school. The training is delivered at your school or at a venue of your choice and we are keen to support your needs.

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Why is the training split into four days?

The training takes place over four days because each day contains strategies that layer upon the previous one. Throughout the training we are uniting trauma-informed practice and positive education strategies to assist teachers in working together to form a consistent whole school approach for effective student engagement.

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Whose responsibility is the implementation of this model?

All members of staff have a role to play. Implementation can occur in a number of ways. While research suggests that the model works best with whole school implementation, including changes in schoolwide policy, if you are a solo teacher there’s still plenty you can do! Create a sunspot classroom, in which as many BSEM strategies are implemented as possible, and other teachers will notice.

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I’m doing the training soon. Can I have a copy of the slides in advance?

When you sign up to the alumni group on day one, you gain access to the Google+ community, and versions of our slides are available there. Enjoy!

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In what order should I teach the model?

The BSEM works best when it is taught in the order we present it. As stated above, the model was designed to mirror sequential development, and implementation is most successful when it too is arranged in this way.

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We’ve done the four training days. What do we do now?

It would be awesome if you stayed involved with the BSEM community, whether it be by sharing your successful implementation strategies on the Google+ page, tweeting us pictures @BSEMaus, or even emailing us stories about your victories at

In addition, the BSEM team are available for further assistance, whether it be through additional consultation days, parent evenings, masterclasses or our year two program. Please don’t hesitate to call our Business Manager on (03) 9429 9266.
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Why are students struggling to engage at school?

One of the indicators of poor school engagement is exposure to traumatic stressors including abuse, neglect and violence directed at young people. Unfortunately the frequency of this type abuse is on the rise in Australia. Up to 40% of students have been exposed or witness to traumatic stressors (ABS, 2008; NTCS, 2011). One in three girls and one in six boys are abused before the age of 18 (ABS, 2005). One of the potential impacts of this abuse is disengagement from school: currently more than 10% of young people disengage (DET, 2011).

Trauma affects child development and a child’s ability to successfully navigate and succeed in education. In 2011, 82% of Victorian students aged 19 completed year 12 or its vocational equivalent; and Government schools retained 80% of their students who started in year 7 (DET, 2014).

This means there are many young people who struggle in their primary years and do not complete their secondary education – a legacy which will last a life-time and have profound social consequences for the community.

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How has the Berry Street Education Model been developed at Berry Street?

The Berry Street Education Model builds upon Berry Street’s foundations of therapeutic practice based on trauma-informed teaching and learning. This holistic program is the first of its kind to show significant academic growth in struggling students by combining Berry Street’s approaches to welfare, wellbeing, and proven approaches to academic learning for individuals whose trauma or experiences of chronic stress has impacted their neurodevelopment.

Berry Street has a strong track record and key role to play in assisting the development of services for vulnerable children and young people. The Berry Street Education Model informs the three campuses of the
Berry Street School, and has made possible significant academic growth in Victoria’s most vulnerable students, many who live in out-of-home care with histories of school refusal and disrupted education. The success of our model is measured by our Berry Street School students averaging 1.8 years learning in one academic year.

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Whose research does the Berry Street Education Model draw upon for its evidence base?

We are proud to stand on the shoulders of giants in the fields of traumatology, education, wellbeing, and positive psychology. We have ongoing research and evaluation projects with the University of Melbourne Graduate School of Education through their Youth Research Centre and Centre of Positive Psychology. We have benefited from the ground-breaking work of researchers around the world including Bessel van der Kolk, Martin Seligman, Lea Waters, Carol Dweck, Angela Duckworth and Helen Stokes. We are honoured to have significant collaboration for the Berry Street Education Model Curriculum and Strategies from authors Jacci Norrish, Maddie Witter, Sarah Ralston, Therese Joyce, Leonie Abbott, and Janelle Larkin.

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What impact has the Berry Street Education Model had on schools?

In 2015, Berry Street partnered with two Victorian Government schools to pilot the Model in mainstream classes. This pilot was evaluated by The University of Melbourne Graduate School of Education Youth Research Centre. The evaluation identified links to academic improvement, increased student engagement and better teacher-student relationships. Read the full report

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What will course participants learn?

Participants will learn classroom and whole-school strategies to promote an understanding of the five domains of the Berry Street Education Model:
• BODY: Building school-wide rhythms and body-regulation through a focus on physical and emotional regulation of the stress response, de-escalation in school and classroom contexts, and mindfulness opportunities throughout the school day
• RELATIONSHIP: Increasing relational capacities in staff and students through attachment and attunement principles with specific relationship strategies with difficult to engage young people
• STAMINA: Creating a strong culture of independence for academic tasks by nurturing resilience, emotional intelligence and a growth mindset
• ENGAGEMENT: Employing engagement strategies that build willingness in struggling students
• CHARACTER: Harnessing a values and a character strengths approach to enable successful student self-knowledge which leads to empowered future pathways

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How can our school find out about implementing the Berry Street Education Model?

We deliver programs that employ a blended learning methodology based on instructor expertise, peer-collaboration, and opportunities for participants to pilot learned strategies in their schools. Supports between sessions, including the option for individual conferencing or other consultation, are provided by facilitators.

contact us for more information regarding the following learning opportunities:

Institute Courses
(offered through the Berry Street Childhood Institute and partnering educational institutes)
  • A comprehensive training program
  • Four days of intensive training
  • For school leaders, teachers, and allied education professionals
  • Provision of resources and tools to facilitate the implementation of the model
School Courses
  • A comprehensive training program for a participating school
  • Tailored to the needs of the specific school community
  • Delivered on site at school to faculty
  • All school personnel receive an intensive training session once per term
  • Provision of resources and tools to facilitate implementation of the model
  • Additional mentoring and consultation to embed the interventions
  • One-day course delivered at participants’ site
  • Lectures, seminars and workshops on individual modules
  • Provision of resources for that module
Lectures /
Workshops /
Information sessions

  • One hour sessions designed to provide an overview of the Berry Street Education Model

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What outcomes can participating schools expect?

Potential short-term outcomes for participating schools:
  • Improved academic (literacy/numeracy) growth
  • Improved emotional/social wellbeing
  • Stronger ability to maintain durable relationships
  • Increased teacher knowledge and capacity in working with struggling students
  • Increased school attendance
  • Decreased incident reports and suspensions

Potential long-term outcomes for participating schools:
  • Improved esteem and capacity for healthy relationships
  • Lessoning anti-social behaviours for future success
  • Improved Year 12 completion and participation in post-school training, education and employment

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Who delivers the training programs, mentoring and consultancy?

Tom Brunzell is the leader of the Berry Street Education Model implementation. Tom is Senior Advisor Teaching & Learning with the Berry Street Childhood Institute. Read more about Tom

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Supporting articles

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Berry Street was first established on the lands of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respect to their Elders, past and present, and to all the traditional custodians of land throughout Australia.