Reframing Learning and Teaching Environments (ReLATE) is a research and trauma-informed education model that provides a blueprint for schools to create supportive environments for teaching and improved student learning and wellbeing.
About the Program
The ReLATE program combines educational research, social science, behavioural theory and neuroscience to provide schools with a blueprint for enhanced teaching.
ReLATE is informed by current trauma theory, and recognises the impact that Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) have on the developing body and brain of a child. It gives education professionals the knowledge and skills that enable them to be aware of the impacts of adverse experiences on learning and wellbeing.
Within ReLATE, wellbeing is understood as an essential pre-condition for quality teaching and learning. Safe, predictable and supportive learning environments are created and maintained in classrooms where students and staff are not just known, but understood.
The ReLATE model is a commitment as a school community to sustainable and positive cultural change and advocates for shared responsibility towards enhancing learning in a school environment.
- Empowers schools to create safe, supportive and predictable environments for enhanced teaching, learning and wellbeing.
- Strengthens staff understanding of how adverse childhood experiences and complex trauma can impact behaviours, attitude and learning.
- Enhances whole school culture and teacher attitudes, including teacher perspectives and responses to student behaviour and disengagement.
Frequently asked questions
Through ReLATE, schools can expect to see happier, more connected and engaged students, staff and school communities, as is measured throughout implementation. Schools and systems can expect a shift in their culture and attitudes as well as strengthened responses from teachers to student behaviour - all of which create the pre-conditions for improved learning and wellbeing outcomes.
We take the time to get to know you and your community
We work hard to ensure that we understand your needs and the unique strengths and challenges within your school community. During the three annual Discovery Day sessions we meet with members of your school community including leadership, staff, parents and students (where appropriate) to gather data and explore 'where your community is at' and refresh your strategic objectives and find out 'where you want to be'.
We provide you with bespoke Discovery and Insights Reports, drawing out your school or system's unique characteristics and informing an implementation approach that is designed to drive the desired change.
We work with you to gather and explore:
- existing knowledge and beliefs about trauma and trauma-informed practices
- opportunities and barriers to improving safety and wellbeing
- baseline data, unpacking the story behind this data.
We provide direct and ongoing support for implementation
With ongoing support from our skilled consultants, each school or system will establish a School Implementation Taskforce (SIT). The SIT represents an integral group of staff who will lead implementation. They are supported by clear guidelines, detailing each of the key tasks needed to create a lasting change in schools. Through this process your school or system will be supported to:
- implement planning days
- use data to inform thinking
- examine values, beliefs and assumptions
- contextualise resources for your community
Our consultants are available to provide advice and support and check in with SIT members outside of the formal learning sessions, answering questions and providing further guidance to address challenges and explore new goals.
Our expertise doesn't just come from theory, it comes from experience
Our frontline connection to the education sector ensures our programs are effective and practical. ReLATE was developed in Australia by MacKillop Family Services, drawing on the practice model implemented in our MacKillop Education schools. MacKillop Education provides a safe and supportive school environment that caters for young people who are disengaged in education.
Drawing together a robust body of research, the ReLATE model has four foundational concepts:
Safety: ReLATE recognises safety as an essential pre-condition for quality teaching and learning.
A counter-stress school environment: ReLATE fosters wellbeing by actively counteracting stress, through trauma-informed policies and practices that promote communication and self-regulation.
Enhanced teaching and learning: ReLATE is guided by neuroscience to enhance teaching and learning and encourage staff to use repeated, supportive actions.
Sustainable whole school culture change: ReLATE aims to create whole of school culture change through teaching about resilience, adversity, trauma and collective efficacy.
Education professionals will have access to four full days of professional learning, run by our highly skilled consultants. Staff will also be equipped with practical tools to implement in the classroom, including:
- Self-regulation plans to de-escalate challenging behaviours for both students and staff
- Traffic light identification enabling your staff to discuss critical incidents proactively, with a degree of urgency and in priority order
- Debriefing and communication strategies, giving staff a process to mitigate abusive behaviours or mistreatment.
ReLATE walks leaders through cultural change processes, supporting them to translate knowledge into meaningful action. Through the implementation cycle, our consultants support school leaders with school level data, building transferable capabilities to answer to critical questions, such as:
- Are we truly making a difference in the teaching, learning and wellbeing domains?
- How do we know?
- What is the evidence of meaningful impact?
ReLATE supports schools to reduce behavioural incidents, shifting the focus from reactive to aspirational. Calm environments translate to improved wellbeing for students and staff and free time to focus on new areas for growth and improvement. Through ReLATE, your school or system will become trauma aware and best positioned to meet the diverse needs of your community.
"Since participating in the ReLATE model, there has been far less reactivity with incidents and more tolerance, modifying our expectations of all children and families to align to their needs."
Pilot school teacher
ReLATE in Action at MacKillop Education
ReLATE: Reframing Learning and Teaching Environments, was developed in Australia by MacKillop Family Services, drawing on the practice model implemented in our schools (MacKillop Education). MacKillop Education provides a safe and supportive school environment that caters for children and young people who are disengaged, or at risk of disengaging, from education.
Stories of impact
Holy Cross Primary School: building school culture alongside ReLATE
Holy Cross Primary School opened its doors for the first time in 2021. With a brand-new school and a new team all starting at the same time, Holy Cross had a unique opportunity: a chance to build school culture from scratch and make intentional decisions on what that would look like. We spoke to Holy Cross Principal Mark Miatello and Deputy Principal Gemma Gowland about their journey with the ReLATE model.
Monash study reveals trauma-informed teacher training can prevent teacher burnout
A groundbreaking study by Monash University has revealed how prevalent trauma and burnout are among Australian teachers. The first known comprehensive study on the nature and extent of secondary trauma among teachers in Australia, highlights the benefits of trauma-informed teacher training.View more
Senate report on school refusal recommends trauma-informed practices in schools
The recent senate report on school refusal has identified a range of recommendations aimed at tackling the rising issue of school refusal. Trauma-informed practices in schools were identified as a key recommendation to support schools to re-engage students in learning without causing further distress.
"ReLATE is relevant to all educational professionals. Staff wellbeing is not focused on enough and we can't help students if we are burnt out. ReLATE helps revisit all concepts important in making the best wellbeing choices for all members of a school."
Director - The MacKillop Institute
ReLATE Consultant and Practice Specialist