The Evidence Portal

Improving School Readiness: Core components

Core Components

Three core components are present across programs that have been shown to build school readiness in children aged 6 years or younger.

In 2021, an evidence review was conducted to understand what works to support transition to school for vulnerable children. The review identified six evidence-informed programs. Content analysis identified three commonalities across these programs.  They make up standardised program components that would need to be delivered by any program for children where there is a need to build school readiness.

Who do they work for?

These core components are the common activities across programs that have been shown to improve school readiness among vulnerable children aged 0-6 years.

Core Components

Relationship building

Supportive relationships between parents/carers and teachers, and children and teachers, are fundamental to school readiness.

Flexible activities include:

Activities to support building relationships include teacher-initiated phone calls to parents, class newsletters sent to parents, joint student-parent homework, parent meetings, and increased teacher responsiveness to students. Teachers play a role in enhancing the parent-child relationship by providing at-home activities for parent and child to complete together.

Academic preparedness

Building skills in children that prepare them academically for starting school is a core component.

Flexible activities include:

Activities to support academic preparedness include letter recognition, “brain” games and exposure to books

Readiness of the child for the classroom

Children need behavioural skills for a successful transition to thriving in the school classroom environment.

Flexible activities include:

Activities to support appropriate behavioural skill building include encouragement of student engagement and on-task work, pro-social problem solving, feelings vocabulary and compliance to rule and teacher directions.


To learn more about core components see: How do core components work?

What should I consider when working with Aboriginal communities?

Culturally safe services are critical when supporting the wellbeing of Aboriginal children, young people, families and communities. You should look for guidance from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, families and communities on how to provide the service or activity so that they feel respected and safe.

There is great diversity in the cultures of Aboriginal people across NSW and Australia, which is not yet reflected in the limited evidence base available, however it is clear that cultural safety needs to be relevant to the specific communities in which the service is operating.

Cultural safety has been defined as:

An environment that is spiritually, socially and emotionally safe, as well as physically safe for people; where there is no assault, challenge or denial of their identity, of who they are and what they need. It is about shared respect, shared meaning, shared knowledge and experience of learning together (Williams 1999, cited in Bin-Sallik, 2003).

Cultural safety needs to be considered holistically, at all levels of service provision, from the individual practitioner, to organisational approaches, as well as systemically.

Cultural safety becomes embedded through an ongoing process of self-reflection and improvement; cultural safety cannot be embedded by adopting a ‘tick-a-box’ approach.

Aboriginal workers’ expertise includes understanding Aboriginal ways of communication, the history of personal and intergenerational trauma, and community dynamics. It is critical that Aboriginal workers do not feel powerless or over-burdened in carrying out their work and are supported effectively (Zon et al, 2004).

It is the right of the Aboriginal client receiving services to determine if they were culturally safe or not, and it is the responsibility of the service provider to seek this feedback from Aboriginal clients to assess whether their services are experienced as culturally safe.

The research describes service access as a vital element of cultural safety. Service co-design with Aboriginal community members is a good way of achieving this. Inflexible delivery of externally developed programs that do not respond to local service needs is identified in the literature as culturally unsafe (Freeman et al, 2014).

A Cultural Safety and Wellbeing evidence review conducted in 2021 identified the following six critical elements as common across the evidence:

  • Recognising the importance of culture;
  • Self-determination;
  • Workforce development;
  • Whole of organisation approach;
  • Leadership and partnership;
  • Research, monitoring and evaluation.

These critical elements should be embedded in organisations’ way of working in order to deliver culturally safe services which contribute to improving outcomes for Aboriginal people. See the Cultural Safety and Wellbeing Evidence Review for further information on these critical elements and examples of the ways in which they can be implemented.

What else should I consider?

The core components and flexible activities above can be used to design or implement a program, but should always be tailored to fit the needs and characteristics of the target group/s.

Last updated:

02 Mar 2023

Was this content useful?
We will use your rating to help improve the site.
Please don't include personal or financial information here
Please don't include personal or financial information here

We acknowledge Aboriginal people as the First Nations Peoples of NSW and pay our respects to Elders past, present, and future. 

Informed by lessons of the past, Department of Communities and Justice is improving how we work with Aboriginal people and communities. We listen and learn from the knowledge, strength and resilience of Stolen Generations Survivors, Aboriginal Elders and Aboriginal communities.

You can access our apology to the Stolen Generations.

Top Return to top of page Top