2.1 The three levels of school case management support

Secondary schools are complex organisations. Although there are many similarities in the ways they operate, secondary schools tend to differ in their cultures and are generally unique in their own ethos and ways of doing things. Contextual differences, the capacity of school-based staff involved in student services, and variance in resources provision are some of the important factors to take into account when considering how secondary schools cater for students who have support needs. This is particularly relevant to the way in which case management processes are applied in secondary schools, and indeed how staff understand this concept in the first instance.

The review (de Jong, 2005) that preceded the development of this Kit noted that definitions of case management are as varied as the contexts within which it is applied. One study (O'Dowd et al, 2001) pointed out that case management was typically defined as a one-to-one process where the focus was working with individuals. However, this study revealed that most effective case management in schools reflected a holistic approach which included working with individuals, groups, and undertaking systemic work within and beyond the school. The framework for effective case management presented in this section is based on this approach. It conceptualises case management structures and processes in the secondary school context as occurring on three inter-connected levels of support:

  • System Support (eg. policy, central office, district office, community-based mental health programs, mental health specialists)

  • School Support (eg. Health Promoting Schools Framework, leadership, student services, teachers, students

  • Individual Support (eg. the School Case Management (SCM) team, individualised learning and/or behaviour plans, mentoring).