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What is TORA?

TORA stands for Teacher’s Optimal Relationship Approach.


TORA recognises that teachers play an important role in the lives of each student at school. TORA is an early intervention Mental Health and Well Being strategy that is evidence based and school based. It provides play therapy skills to teachers to be able to integrate these therapeutic qualities and bring playfulness into their relationships on a daily basis.

"The TORA is a universal approach that any teacher can implement, and any child can benefit from."

(Dr Kate Renshaw, 2023a)

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At One Classrooms provides training for teachers in the form of 1 day professional development workshops covering topics such as:

  • Attachment Theories

  • Child Development stages

  • Importance & Stages of play

  • Trauma Informed practices 

  • The 8 TORA skills


During the training phase of the 8 TORA skills, teachers are able to practice some of these skills making it an interactive and fun workshop. Teachers are also invited to speak and share about their experiences.

PD Workshop

"The Teacher’s Optimal Relationship Approach gives teachers confidence to create a learning environment that promotes wellbeing and connection to community in a humanistic and developmentally appropriate manner for all students. Staff appreciate the fact that the approach is an evidenced based intervention that empowers them to attune more deeply with each individual student within a larger Learning Community.”

GK, Co-Principal, Victoria, Australia

(Renshaw, 2023b)

Nicole Rickett's is a Certified TORA Facilitator for At One Classrooms. She is a registered Play Therapist (MCPT) who has studied under TORA Founder – Dr Kate Renshaw PhD (Phil), Postgrad Dip Play Therapy (*MA equivalent), GradDip Art Therapy, GradCert HELT, BA Psychology

"2019 research shows 1 in 7 children experience a mental health condition (AIHW, 2019) and 50% of all adult mental health conditions first present within childhood (Hoare, 2019). These numbers are likely higher today as we also know that mental health deteriorated in many children during the events of 2020 and beyond."

(Renshaw, 2023a)

"Children spend 16,000 hours in formal schooling. These figures suggest that some children will spend more time with their teachers than with their parents or caregivers during their childhood years. Teachers find themselves not only teaching children but being a foundational figure, both socially and emotionally, in a child's life"


(Renshaw, 2023a)

From Dr Renshaw’s Research (PhD)

  • Student-teacher relationship quality increased

  • Prosocial behaviours increased

  • Conduct problems, hyperactivity, peer problems, externalising and internalising difficulties, and total difficulties decreased

  • Teacher quality improved

  • Efficacy of the TORA confirmed

Assessment tools

Pre and Post standardised assessments are conducted for all students so the school can have these measurements on hand to assess where their students mental health and well-being sit.

A New Curriculum Requirement

The Victorian state of Australia has now added Mental Health and Well Being into their school curriculum, so schools now will need to show measurements for each student and how they plan on improving such an important area. Other states in Australia will no doubt be working towards this also.

"TORA is in a unique position to cater for this to measure and provide support not only to students, but also teacher’s mental health and wellbeing."

(Renshaw, 2023a)

TORA instills flow, simplicity and inclusivity in the classroom through a therapeutic approach that equips teachers to engage the group in harmonious interactivity.


This is essential as classrooms often have numerous students requiring specialised support with competing needs.

Staff  and children's mental health and wellbeing are all affected when the pressures of the classroom environment impact the group.

This is reflected in the lack of job satisfaction that many teachers are privately expressing and can be clearly seen in low retention rates in the profession.

In 2022 Monash University conducted an extensive survey involving 5,497 Australian teachers. 42% of whom were from Primary schools.


Here are some of the key findings from the study:

Only 27.6% of teachers indicated that they intended to stay in the teaching profession until retirement.

Only 35.4% of teachers would recommend teaching as a profession.

Reasons for wanting to leave the profession included workload, health and wellbeing concerns, and the changing nature of the profession. Some of the teachers comments are included below:

“When I first started teaching, I thought I’d be a teacher forever. Now I'm considering changing professions.”

“Currently unsure. I enjoy my job, but it is becoming more stressful each year.”

“My mental health is failing under the stress of the workload with the constant abuse from students and parents. I shouldn't have to work this hard just to be disrespected every day.”

“Teaching has become more about data collection, rather than the student as a person.”

“I would have said until retirement, but now I don't think I have more than 2 years left in me.”

“It’s becoming more difficult to teach, and I feel there is more abuse from students directed at teachers. I do not want to be in a workplace where you are abused regularly long term.”

“Its not the profession I want to remain in. I became a teacher to educate and inspire students, not to push agendas and collect data.”

“I don't ever want to be complacent, and I don't want to work in a job that is so overloaded with administration protocols that it takes away from what I am there to do.”

“Families have become extremely entitled and disrespectful over the years, and children’s behaviours and anxieties have increased tenfold.”

“The TORA made me see them [the children] completely differently…I’m seeing him through a different lens, where his behaviour isnt a negative behaviour .”

Teacher, Victoria, Australia (Renshaw, 2022)

“It’s more of like an attitude and a language you use, once you’re in the flow of it.”

Teacher, Victoria, Australia (Renshaw, 2022)

“Because we’re kind of counsellors, we’re so many different things. We’re not just teaching reading, writing. We’re working with parents who’ve experienced abuse, and we’re working with children who are coming from that… but… we’re not taught these things [the TORA] ….so I think that is a big fault in the system, and I think that would be a powerful change if teachers came into schools knowing these things and then putting it into practice and learning from it and growing with it.”

Teacher, Victoria, Australia (Renshaw, 2022)

“….It just became another part of who we are rather than an added on.”

Teacher, Victoria, Australia (Renshaw, 2022)


1 day workshops

Talk to Nicole about how Professional Development in TORA could benefit your school. One day workshops or customised solutions are available.

Contact Nicole to discuss the services available to your school or workplace

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