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Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) is an evidence-based approach for providing support in situations where there is, or there is a risk of, challenging behaviour. School-Wide Positive Behaviour Support (SWPBS) refers to PBS strategies that are adopted across an entire school with the aim of setting clear, consistent expectations and positive values. As part of the Aspect Comprehensive Approach, Aspect uses School-Wide PBS across its network of schools to help each student fulfill their potential.

How can we measure the effectiveness of SWPBS in Australian autism-specific schools? How is SWPBS being used in schools? How effective is SWPBS use in Australian autism-specific schools?

The research

This co-produced, multi-step research project evaluated the effectiveness of SWPBS in Aspect schools:

  • ARCAP researchers (including an Autistic researcher and consultant) working with SWPBS champions in Aspect schools to adapt an evaluation tool originally designed for mainstream US schools to suit Australian autism-specific schools.
  • An online survey was conducted to better understand how SWPBS is used in Aspect schools and other schools across Australia that support Autistic students.
  • Aspect and other schools across Australia were surveyed to evaluate the use of SWPBS.

What we learnt

This research used co-production principles to develop and trial an autism-specific SWPBS audit tool that can be used in Aspect schools and made available to other educational settings. We also conducted an Australia-wide survey to understand how others were implementing SWPBS in autism-specific contexts. Thirty-nine educators from all Australian states, multiple settings (mainstream, special school, special development and autism-specific) and across a range of roles (school leaders, teachers, therapists and educational support staff/teacher’s aides) completed the survey.

Results of SWPBS research project
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Evaluating implementation of School Wide Positive Behaviour Support practices in educational settings for Autistic students report

Making a difference

Findings from this study will contribute to international literature on how SWPBS is being used in an Australian education environment for Autistic students. Evaluation of each school's SWPBS strategies will identify strengths and areas for improvement. Subsequent studies will investigate the experiences of teachers and Autistic students to evaluate SWPBS and connections to student outcomes.

Our goal is to make sure that all Autistic students have access to the best practices that support their educational achievement and that understands and respects their diversity.

Research team

Dr Abigail Love, ARCAP (Lead researcher)

Dr Tom Tutton, Aspect Practice

Co-production included Autistic researchers from ARCAP and members of Aspect’s Think Tank

Dr Jennifer Stephenson (Macquarie University)

Phillip Whitefield (University of Sydney)






Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect)