BSEM research and evaluation
The Berry Street Education Model's (BSEM) unique approach is informed by the last 25 years of trauma-informed practice, positive psychology, and the science of learning research.
We have ongoing research and evaluation with the University of Melbourne Graduate School of Education. Our program has benefited from the ground-breaking work of researchers around the world including Bessel van der Kolk, Martin Seligman, Lea Waters, Carol Dweck, and Helen Stokes.
Backed by research
BSEM is the focus of research by University of Melbourne within mainstream and specialist schools. These studies investigate student behaviours, achievement, engagement and wellbeing using a range of methodologies. Quantitative and qualitative data includes literacy and numeracy achievement, critical incidence reports, attendance and engagement data, wellbeing surveys, and voices of students and teachers through interviews and focus groups. Studies range from pre- to post-implementation as well as three year longitudinal studies and ongoing investigation into BSEM's continued impacts within schools.
Alumni of BSEM consistently report that students’ connection, engagement and learning are all significantly improved once BSEM strategies are applied throughout the school.
BSEM application in schools has achieved positive outcomes for students, including:
- improved academic growth and social/emotional wellbeing
- greater ability to maintain school-based relationships
- increased school attendance
- decreased incident reports and suspensions
- increased teacher knowledge and capacity to work with them.
- improved high school completion and participation in post‑school training, education and employment.
“The way we talk to kids has changed their ability to talk to us. Emotional intelligence has changed too – staff and students can now articulate their feelings … We talk to kids about where the anger sits in them.”
Student learning attainments
University of Melbourne research (2015) suggested that BSEM has contributed to more than two years learning in one academic year.
“There’s a more supportive environment among the children. They’re using de-escalating language, they’re better able to communicate with their teachers.”
Deputy Head – Wellbeing
The Model helps staff by developing their capacity to take strategies back to their schools and classes, leading to whole school changes in school culture and teacher practice.
“I think staff [now see it as they] have a role to play in ensuring that these kids aren't just misbehaving, that there are true indicators and that there are things we can do to ensure the kids are safe here at school and learning”
“We (need to) understand ourselves... We have to understand our own triggers and emotions for us, and then for our kids”
Whole school culture
The whole school approach, involving all school staff, not just teachers, is essential to the success of BSEM in schools. The use of shared language provided by BSEM is also helpful.
“The shared language is probably the most powerful and significant difference... amongst staff and the kids”
BSEM Pilot Program Evaluation by the University of Melbourne and the Youth Research Centre
In 2014, the Berry Street invited the Youth Research Centre (University of Melbourne) to undertake a research and evaluation project examining the effectiveness of the Berry Street Education Model (BSEM) when used to engage young people in mainstream schools.
3 Year Evaluation of BSEM: Research and Evaluation
This report provides a three year evaluation which details the findings and identifies limitations and recommendations for the future.
Young People’s Voices Young People’s Lives
The ‘Young People’s Voices, Young People’s Lives’ Project (YPVYPL) is a 12-month study that documents and examines the impact of the BSEM on four cohorts of young people in four Victorian schools.
Evaluation of the Berry Street Education Model Darebin Schools Program Learning for all
BSEM is currently being implemented in Darebin in northern metropolitan Melbourne. The implementation is part of the Darebin City Council’s Community of Practice initiative, that has as its focus supporting and bringing schools together.
The Collingwood College BSEM Pilot
BSEM is currently being implemented at Collingwood College, a P-12 facility in inner Melbourne, as part of the Yarra Communities that Care (CTC) initiative.
As part of their work, senior BSEM trainers have had articles published in leading journals.
- Bailey, B. & Brunzell, T. (Eds.) (2019). Special Issue: Trauma-informed Practice in Schools. Teacher Learning Network Journal, 26(2).
- Brunzell, T. (2014). A trauma-informed positive education: Perspectives on hope, healing and growth. Developing Practice: The Child, Youth and Family Work Journal, 40, 72-78.
- Brunzell, T. (2019). Trauma-aware teaching: Strengthening teacher practice so all of our students can learn. Teacher Learning Network Journal, 26(2), 3 - 5.
- Brunzell, T. (2020). A journey to trauma-informed positive education. In D. Quinlan and L.C. Hone (Eds.), The Educators' Guide to Whole-School Wellbeing. Oxford, UK & New York, NY: Routledge.
- Brunzell, T. (2020). Resistance, reconnection, re-engagement: Trauma-informed teaching in Steiner education. Journal for Waldorf Rudolf Steiner Education, 22, 4-11.
- Brunzell, T., & Abbott, L. (2015). Pre-emptive and Pro-active Practice: Trauma-Informed Teaching and Learning. ACTUAL-Australian Childhood Trauma Group, 6, 10-11.
- Brunzell, T., Stokes, H., & Waters, L. (2015). Trauma-Informed Positive Education: Using Positive Psychology to Strengthen Vulnerable Students. Contemporary School Psychology, 20, 63-83.
- Brunzell, T., Stokes, H., & Waters, L. (2019). Shifting Teacher Practice in Trauma-Affected Classrooms: Practice Pedagogy Strategies Within a Trauma-Informed Positive Education Model. School Mental Health, 11, 600-614. DOI: 10.1007/s12310-018-09308-8
- Brunzell, T., Waters, L., & Stokes, H. (2015). Teaching with strengths in trauma-affected students: A new approach to healing and growth in the classroom. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 85(1), 3–9. https://doi.org/10.1037/ort0000048
- Brunzell, T., Waters, L., & Stokes, H. (2021). Trauma-informed teacher wellbeing: Teacher reflections within trauma-informed positive education. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 46(5), 91 - 107.
- Brunzell, T., Witter, M., & Abbott, L. (2020). Toward meaningful engagement: Trauma-informed positive education strategies for struggling students. Australian Journal of Middle Schooling, 20(1), 35-44.
- Greig, J., Bailey, B., Abbott, L., & Brunzell, T. (2021). Trauma-Informed Integral Leadership: Leading School Communities With a Systems-Aware Approach. International Journal of Whole Schooling, 17 (1), 62-97.
- Greig, J., Bailey, B., Buchanan, A., & Brunzell, T. (2019). A primer on healing school systems. Teacher Learning Network Journal, 26(2), 31 -32.
- Stokes, H., & Brunzell, T. (2019). Professional learning in trauma informed positive education: Moving school communities from trauma affected to trauma aware. School Leadership Review,14(2), 1-12.
- Stokes, H., & Brunzell, T. (2020). Leading trauma-informed practice in schools. Leading & Managing, 26(1), 70-77.
- Witter, M. & Brunzell, T. (2020). Increasing Hope and Self-Efficacy in our Flexible Learning Students. Australian Association for Flexible and Inclusive Education (AAFIE). Retrieved from https://aafie.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/DSD-Witter-and-Brunzell_Blog-Post-Self-Efficacy-and-Hope_July-2020_FINAL.pdf
Dr Tom Brunzell's book Creating Trauma-informed Strengths Based Classrooms, co-authored with Dr Jacolyn Norrish, is now available as part of Berry Street's professional development resources and bookstore, as well as booksellers world-wide.
Working together, BSEM helps schools strengthen their whole of school approach to build consistency and predictability across all classrooms throughout the school.
Learn how to get started with the BSEM course at your school. Want to talk to someone about our course? Call 03 9429 9266 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your tailored program.