Helen Macpherson Smith Trust

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Case Study: Berry Street

ProjectThe Berry Street Education Model

Amount$155,000 over two years



This grant was approved under previous grants policy
Rural and regional Victoria Enabling children in Morwell to thrive; assisting rural and regional teachers trained in the Victorian Berry Street Education Model to increase their students’ educational achievements
Building organisational capacity Increasing the schools’ capacity to better engage and educate their students; Alumni program will reinforce and continue learnings and skills development of teachers
Extending opportunity Addressing disadvantaged children’s rights to receive education that meets their needs, increases academic attainment, and enhances wellbeing
Collaboration and partnership Morwell Central Primary School, Mt Ridley College, Open Universities Australia, University of Melbourne, teachers in the BSEM Learning Community, philanthropic trusts and foundations, Komosion web developer

Using the science of neurophysiology of trauma to engage disadvantaged school students

The Berry Street Education Model is a proven holistic program that is unique in combining the latest advances in positive psychology, welfare and wellbeing science with best practice education techniques for students struggling to engage with learning.


  • This project builds on the outcomes of an earlier 2012 HMSTrust grant which sought to reduce the number of vulnerable and at risk children in the Latrobe Valley.
  • The Berry Street Education Model (the Model) was implemented in 2016 to a cluster of three mainstream Morwell primary schools which amalgamated into one school in 2017, resulting in a whole-of-school learning approach.
  • The Model is delivered through intensive teacher training, consultations and mentoring. It was piloted over 3 years in the Berry Street School with severely traumatised students, delivering positive academic results with students gaining 1.8 years of academic growth, year on year.
  • In 2015, 277 teachers across Victoria (impacting 3,960 students) undertook the Model’s training.
  • By 2019, activity had grown with more than 25,000 teachers from over 3,000 schools taking part, reaching over 500,000 students nationwide in all states and territories.
  • BSEM works closely with Departments of Education in VIC, NSW, ACT, QLD, SA and NT, and has been implemented in Catholic and Independent schools; placed-based and collective impact initiatives
  • In 2020, BSEM has been invited to roll out in New Zealand and the UK.
  • The Berry Street Education Model Learning Community provides additional ongoing support to the growing cohort of alumni, enabling the sharing of resources, reinforcing learning and further developing practice.
  • University of Melbourne’s Graduate School of Education evaluated the Model’s effectiveness in mainstream schools. The research produced compelling evidence of the positive impact of the Model’s strategies and instruction on student behaviour, achievement, wellbeing and engagement.
  • It continues as a sustainable social enterprise with a fee-for-service delivery model for teachers.


Updated 29 April 2020

“Extending the reach and application of the Berry Street Education Model into mainstream schools will give so many more struggling students the opportunity to engage with and achieve in their education.” Marg Hamley, Director, Berry Street Childhood Institute