HopeTown School

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Hopetown fosters a Therapeutic Environment defined as a stable, supportive and coherent social environment that teaches, models and reinforces constructive interaction.

Functional components of a Therapeutic Environment are:

  • Containment – reducing the risk of physical or psychological harm in order to sustain and promote student and staff well-being. A priority is the minimisation of the levels of student agitation or distress.
  • Support - staff are empathetic and assist students with strategies to promote resilience and with opportunities for risk-taking in a controlled and supportive environment.
  • Structure – where possible, routine and predictability are maintained; consequences are certain, logical, natural or focused on restitution.
  • Involvement – programmes are designed to engage students, to promote their sense of belonging and their opportunities for decision-making within the school community.
  • Validation – the individuality of each student's needs, interests and abilities is recognised.

Hopetown's Therapeutic Environment is supported by behaviour management interventions that focus on teaching self-management skills that students may use to control their own lives and to deal effectively with present and future challenges.

Hopetown's behaviour management interventions usually follow the principles of Cognitive Behaviourism, namely:

  • Thinking processes can help both teachers and students control their own emotions, behaviour, stress levels and personal effectiveness.
  • Thinking influences emotions which influence behaviour.
  • Consequences for behaviour can in turn influence thinking which will influence emotions which influence behaviour and so on.
  • Teachers can help students identify their own thoughts and feelings, connect them to their behaviours and consequences and consider more positive alternatives.
  • Cognitive restructuring can contribute to students' mental health. It teaches students how to change their thinking by challenging their inaccurate beliefs.
  • People can make choices about their behaviour.
  • Self-efficacy is a belief that what happens in one's life is due to one's own behaviour (internal locus of control). This can be developed in students.
  • Self-awareness can lead to self-regulation.
  • Motivation to self-regulate is best reinforced by relevant tasks, intrinsic rewards and a gradual reduction in extrinsic rewards.
  • Students can become independent in managing their own behaviour rather than having others managing it for them.
  • It is not enough for the student to behave appropriately when the teacher is present; they must also be able to do so when the teacher is not around.

Discipline is used to:

  1. ensure the physical and emotional well-being of students and staff
  2. create order so learning can occur
  3. promote self-discipline in the form of internalised compliance
  4. and encourage self-awareness and self-regulation.