Using research to inform student welfare programs

As a Year 8 Advisor at a secondary school in New South Wales, David Williams works with students on their welfare and social and emotional development and is always seeking resources related to these topics.

Williams is also an HSIE (Human Society and Its Environment) educator at Rouse Hill Anglican College, where they value integrating student welfare in an academic context. Williams subscribes to Teacher magazine's free weekly email bulletin and says it is a source of inspiration for the student welfare programs he leads.

Broadening your evidence base

When the Teacher bulletin arrives in his inbox, Williams is often most interested in the articles and infographics related to his role in student welfare.

‘What my inevitable process is, I'll get the email and I'll just look at one thing that's interesting and that speaks to me. So it'll be a topic that I'd been thinking about already, or it'll be something connected to welfare, or it'll be something connected to raising boys, or teacher burnout, even differentiation,' he shares.

‘I've always found the articles in Teacher magazine … quite accessible and helpful and meaningful,' he says. ‘Information has been sourced that I haven't had to go and get, and therefore it broadens my view without me having to go out and find a bunch of things.'

Understanding wellbeing concerns of students

A recent example he recalls is accessing infographics on the topic of student welfare in schools.

‘Through the infographic it helps me understand, what are the most pressing needs of students? Where do they suffer more? Or what sort of areas are problems arising [from] more than others? And then it gives me my talking points for my students.'

Often this means Williams will reference infographics or articles in weekly meetings he has with students, where he makes a short presentation to talk about welfare.

As well as this, the school nominates a goal or value to work on with students each term. This could be one of the college's core values like respect or honesty, Williams explains, and a group session is held every two weeks to work with students on a topic that is related to the overall goal or value.

‘So while the infographic or the article isn't the main element of any presentation there, I use those resources to decide what is going to be a topic that we cover in these sessions. What's the most important touch points that we talk about in those sessions? What's some stuff we should make sure we should cover?'

For example, Williams says if exams are approaching for students, they might do a session on study skills.

‘That's the crossover between welfare and academic … where we do study skills, we'll also talk about anxiety and stress around preparing for exams and how to manage that and do it well.'

Communicating with parents

Williams also sends out weekly emails to parents, where he occasionally includes facts or statistics he's come across which could be interesting to them.

‘Because of COVID and the way things are going, I think with welfare, parents are becoming a bigger part of the picture,' he shares.

‘The welfare at school has an impact on welfare of a student at home.' Williams also says that communicating with parents about their child's wellbeing helps to ensure there is a mutual understanding between teachers, parents, carers and students.

If you'd like to sign up to the free Teacher bulletin, visit our homepage and follow the prompts on the right side of the page. You can view more content related to student welfare here.

We love to share practical examples of how educators are using evidence-informed approaches in their own context. If you have an example of how you've used Teacher to support your professional practice, get in touch with the team at to share your story.

David Williams says it’s important to strive for mutual understanding about student welfare between teachers, parents/carers and students.

As an educator, how do you involve parents in the work you’re doing with students on their welfare? How does including parents strengthen your welfare program?