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Executive summary

The Department of Education and Training engaged ACIL Allen Consulting to outline the policy environment for mobilising Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) data and complementary data across the early life course as part of a comprehensive monitoring system approach.

The Department of Education and Training engaged ACIL Allen Consulting to outline the policy environment for mobilising Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) data and complementary data across the early life course as part of a comprehensive monitoring system approach.

Building on the AEDC, the comprehensive monitoring system is a suite of eight surveys at approximately three-year age intervals to monitor social and emotional development from infancy to early adulthood. There is a particular interest in school and community use of social and emotional well-being data given limited improvement in AEDC results over time and the potential impacts of COVID-19.

The engagement involved consultations with senior leaders in the Department of Education and Training to understand the policy context and opportunities for data mobilisation. The second aspect of the engagements was to map the policies of government from infancy to adulthood, in particular the years before school, during school and into early post school years.

Government priorities supporting data mobilisation

The consultations identified a supportive environment for data mobilisation in schools, particularly a focus on student social and emotional development. Interest in student social and emotional development has grown through Victoria’s Education State reform agenda and is further expanding through the Victorian Mental Health Royal Commission and student wellbeing supports in response to COVID-19. These priorities have led to new resources for schools and an interest in opportunities to better understand the wellbeing of students.

Consultees raised challenges in mobilising use of data in schools. One challenge is that schools can perceive population data (e.g. AEDC data) as intended for use at the community or state level. A further challenge was school familiarity and use of existing data which differs from the AEDC in being collected annually (e.g. Attitudes to School Survey) or directly relates to individual students (e.g. student attendance).

Consultees considered that to improve data mobilisation it would be important to raise the profile of AEDC and life course data and better communicate the value of the data, such as how it connects with other outcomes (e.g. NAPLAN) or the trends in the data occurring over time.

A further opportunity was to embed comprehensive monitoring system data into school and network strategic planning, such that it becomes a feature of the planning data provided to schools and the discussions undertaken during the school planning process.

Policy environment supporting data mobilisation

The intent of the policy mapping was to enable: services to more readily connect data to their day-to-day practice; communities to understand how the competencies fit into service provision; and policy makers to identify where the data may assist policy or resource development.

The mapping explored government policies supporting the social and emotional well-being of children and young people. It used the social and emotional wellbeing competencies and difficulties of the comprehensive monitoring system as the lens for mapping the policies. These are:

  • Physically Well / Healthy Bodies – i.e. physical wellness, sleep, nutrition and exercise
  • Self-regulation / Trust in self – i.e. attachment security, relationship quality and support
  • Co-regulation / Trust in others – i.e. emotional competence, situation and emotion focused coping skills
  • Global citizenship / Sense of meaning – i.e. development of a social and environmental conscience
  • Difficulties – i.e. depression/anxiety, conduct and behaviour, substance use (adolescence onwards).

The mapping covered policy for services in which all children and young people are expected to participate covering the early childhood, primary and middle school, and senior and post school life stages. A brief overview of the results of the mapping for each stage is provided below.

Early childhood (birth-5 years of age)

The mapping for the Maternal and Child Health (MCH) service highlights the health and development monitoring role of MCH service as a key connection with the social and emotional wellbeing competencies.

The mapping for Early Childhood Education and Care services focuses the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework (VEYLDF) being the required framework for kindergarten funding. The mapping illustrates the strong alignment between the competencies and the VEYLDF outcomes, in particular:

  • Outcome 1: Children have a strong sense of identity
  • Outcome 2: Children are connected with and contribute to their world
  • Outcome 3: Children have a strong sense of wellbeing.

Primary and middle school (5-16 years of age)

The mapping for the primary and middle school years highlights the connection between the competencies and the Victorian Curriculum F-10 in relation to:

  • the curriculum learning areas (Health and Physical Education, Humanities)
  • the curriculum capabilities (Personal and Social capability, Ethical capability)
  • the cross-curriculum priorities (Sustainability).

Of the broader, mandatory school operational policies, the Bullying Prevention and Response policy and Suicide Prevention and Response policy connect to the competencies framework.

Senior and post school (16-21 years of age)

The mapping for the senior and post-school years identifies the connection to the competencies in relation to:

  • Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) study designs (Health and Physical Education, Humanities)
  • VCE Vocational Education and Training programs (Sport and Recreation; Health)
  • Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning strands (Personal Development Skills).

The Bullying Prevention and Response policy and Suicide Prevention and Response policy continue to be mandatory school operational policies in the senior years of school and specifically connect to the competencies framework.

Opportunities

Several opportunities to improve the uptake and use of AEDC and comprehensive monitoring system data are outlined in Table ES 1. below.

Opportunities to improve data mobilisation

Building on the current interest in social and emotional wellbeing

  • Opportunity 1. Continue to raise the profile of AEDC data and the comprehensive monitoring approach. The 2021 AEDC results are an upcoming opportunity to communicate with schools and the important influencers with schools (such as the Senior Education Improvement Leaders).
  • Opportunity 2. Align communication to the policy (particularly the response to the Mental Health Royal Commission) and pandemic context to draw attention to the meaning of the results.

Offering schools and communities greater value than their current data

  • Opportunity 3. Support schools and communities to track social and emotional wellbeing over the early development life course (birth to early adulthood) through the comprehensive monitoring approach.
  • Opportunity 4. Define and communicate the added value of AEDC and comprehensive monitoring data relative to the other data available to schools and communities
  • Opportunity 5. Link the data to action by mapping and communicating the connection between the data and available school and community resources.

Embedding activities in schools

  • Opportunity 6. Explore the requirements to embed the comprehensive monitoring data directly in schools, particularly through school strategic planning. For example, use by Senior Education Improvement Leaders and incorporation into resources (e.g. Panorama school data reports) for school strategic planning.

Source: ACIL Allen, 2021.

Reviewed 21 April 2022

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