Get to know » Caregiver support

Another crucial factor that the PILNA student assessment captured was caregiver support for students. Caregiver support, in its many forms, is widely recognised as an enabler of success in children’s education.

Students from PILNA 2021 were provided with a list of activities and asked to indicate how frequently someone they lived with provided help or support with the activities. They could respond with ‘Always’, ‘Most of the time’, ‘Sometimes’, or ‘Never’.

Caregiver support by proportion of students

Table RCST#7 shows the proportion of students in both year four and year six who answered with either ‘Always’ or ‘Most of the time’.

Table RCST#7

Percentage of students whose caregivers frequently support their children

  • Standard errors appear in parentheses.

The results showed that about half the students reported that their caregivers ‘Always’ or ‘Most of the time’ checked their homework was complete (Year four, 48%; Year six, 48%), helped with their homework (Year four, 49%; Year six, 48%), or asked about their schoolwork (Year four, 50%; Year six, 53%).

A little more than half of students reported that their caregivers supported or encouraged them (Year four, 51%; Year six, 56%), as well as gave them advice and guidance (Year four, 55%; Year six, 63%).

Across both year levels, only about two out of five students reported that their caregivers ‘Always’ or ‘Most of the time’ understood their problems and worries (Year four, 36%; Year six, 38%) or comforted them when they were feeling upset (Year four, 40%; Year six, 39%). This may be an area to monitor, as these questions may be linked with student well-being.

Caregiver support and student performance

From the responses to the questions about caregiver support (Table RCST#7), a regional scale was developed. This scale was designed to measure the level of caregiver support being offered to students. High scores on this scale represent a greater level of caregiver support than low scores.

Figure LMN#2: PILNA Caregiver Support Scale
Average scores of students on caregiver support scale by year level and proficiency

The PILNA scale for caregiver support has an average of 200 and a standard deviation of 40. Most scores are expected to be within 40 points of 200 (160-240). It was formed from all eight questions that students were asked about their caregiver’s support using statistical analysis.


  • Year 4

    • 189 1.4
    • 205 0.6
  • Year 6

    • 193 1.2
    • 207 0.5


  • Year 4

    • 194 1.1
    • 207 0.7
  • Year 6

    • 196 1.2
    • 210 0.5
  • Scale score for students below expected proficiency level
  • Scale score for students at or above expected proficiency level
  • Statistically significant correlation (p <0.05)
  • Standard errors appear in parentheses

Scores for caregiver support were compared for two groups at both the year group levels and in numeracy and reading: for students who were at or above the expected proficiency level and students who were below the expected proficiency level in the cognitive domain. The results of these comparisons are set out in Figure LMN#2.

The results show that, for both year levels and in both numeracy and reading, students who performed at or above the expected proficiency level scored higher on the caregiver support scale.

What does this mean?

Consistent with findings from the previous PILNA cycle, we have seen high levels of caregiver support for students.

About half the students in the region frequently receive support from their caregivers with homework, guidance and encouragement. Lower proportions of students, however, frequently felt that their caregivers understood their issues or had their caregivers comfort them when they were upset.

These statistics might point towards a disconnect between students and caregivers in the region, although high proportions of students are frequently supported by their caregivers.

There is evidence that support from caregivers is associated with students’ performance in numeracy and reading at both year levels. Students who met performance expectations in these areas had higher levels of caregiver support.