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Advocacy at School Print or save as PDF

How is it defined?

Advocacy at school refers to the support students receive from adults in the school who consistently provide encouragement and who can be turned to for advice. Although parents and carers play the most vital role in the lives of most children, relationships with non-parental adults begin to develop around adolescence, and these become important relationships for normal development (Beam, Chen, & Greenberger, 2002).

The Learning Bar’s framework on the drivers of student outcomes includes measures of quality instruction, school context, classroom context and family context. School context includes measures of advocacy at school, bullying and feeling safe while attending school.

Why is it important?

  • Emotional support from teachers is positively related to students’ grade-point average (Tennant et al., 2015).
  • Students’ motivation and effort in school is related to their relationships with their teachers. Students who feel they are being supported report higher levels of engagement (Green, Rhodes, Hirsch, Suárez-Orozco, & Camic, 2008).
  • Guidance counsellors play an important role if they are proactive with vulnerable students, as those students are most in need of counselling are less likely to seek advice (Looker, 1997).
  • The presence of a non-parental adult in an adolescent’s life is positively associated with student achievement for those who are at risk of low achievement (Farruggia, Bullen, & Davidson, 2013).

How do we measure it?

In Tell Them From Me, in both the primary and secondary school questionnaires, students respond to Likert questions about whether they have someone at school who consistently provides encouragement and who can be turned to for advice. The scores are scaled on a 10-point scale and the results are reported as ‘the average score for advocacy at school’.



Beam, M. R., Chen, C., & Greenberger, E. (2002). The nature of adolescents' relationships with their “very important” nonparental adults. American Journal of Community Psychology, 30(2), 305-325.

Farruggia, S. P., Bullen, P., & Davidson, J. (2013). Important nonparental adults as an academic resource for youth. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 33(4), 498-522.

Green, G., Rhodes, J., Hirsch, A. H., Suárez-Orozco, C., & Camic, P. M. (2008). Supportive adult relationships and the academic engagement of Latin American immigrant youth. Journal of School Psychology, 46, 393-412.

Looker, E. D. (1997). In search of credentials: Factors affecting young adults' participation in postsecondary education. The Canadian Journal of Higher Education, 27(2, 3), 1-36.

Tennant, J. E., Demaray, M. K., Malecki, C. K., Terry, M. N., Clary, M., & Elzinga, N. (2015). Students’ ratings of teacher support and academic and social-emotional well-being. School Psychology Quarterly, 30(4), 494-515.