In Australia, work on the quality of school life began with secondary schools. A School Life Questionnaire for use in secondary schools was developed in the early 1980s to discover students' overall feelings about school and their feelings about specific aspects of school life. Subsequently a primary school version of the School Life Questionnaire was developed to provide for students in the upper primary years.

In developing the primary school version an attempt was made not only to render the language of the instrument appropriate for primary schools but also to consider the appropriateness of the concepts underlying the scales for these younger students. Its development over a series of studies resulted in some features that were different from the secondary school version. Two scales that were different from those in the secondary school version were:

  • Social Integration (which reflects a sense of learning about getting along with other people-combining the ideas of the identity and status scales from the secondary versions of the questionnaire), and
  • Enjoyment which represents a sense of self-motivation in learning and that learning is enjoyable for its own sake.

The ACER School Life Questionnaire has been used in a series of studies in different contexts over more than two decades. The results of these studies have enabled the instrument to be developed and its properties to be established through replicated results.

More recent advancements include the ability for schools to use the survey online, which simplifies administration of the questionnaire. The SLQ is now attracting attention from outside Australia’s borders and is available to international clients.