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Government priorities supporting data mobilisation

This chapter discusses themes raised through the consultations on the alignment of government policies and priorities with the AEDC and comprehensive data monitoring.

2.1 Supports for data mobilisation

Key themes arose through the consultations regarding support for data mobilisation in schools. These are discussed below.

Progress in making social and emotional development of students a priority for government

Consultees noted that making social and emotional development of students was a priority for government.

The Education State reform agenda has raised the prominence of social and emotional wellbeing.

Since the Education State [reform plan] was launched in 2015, there is a greater focus on wellbeing, social and emotional development – and measurement targets that connect to that.

The support for social and emotional development of students has become more formalised and structured in recent years. One of the keys to that was the inclusion of broader wellbeing and inclusion [Education State] targets. Currently, schools are still evolving in the way they apply these targets.

In addition, the Mental Health Royal Commission has added substantial policy focus.

In response to the Mental Health Royal Commission, everyone needs a strong social environment to strengthen the referral system that may reflect education plans. Attendance is so hard… especially at the primary level (i.e. preps).

What we have to do is have a funding allocation and menu for people to draw down from (e.g. SRF). I am certainly keen that there is a better measurement framework.

The policy agendas are leading to new school resources that are focussed on mental health.

Schools are giving more focus and attention to the mental health and wellbeing of students, which I think is a pretty good indicator of school evolvement. For example, this year, the rollout of mental health practitioners and GPs in schools signals the increasing role of schools to provide that support.

COVID-19 has extended this interest with schools supporting the wellbeing of students.

Throughout COVID, schools have maintained contact with students and carers, so there would be greater encouragement to seek assistance/referrals.

The impact of the pandemic has been big, particularly in supporting young people in the transition to the stages of schooling. That’s really front of mind. There is an opportunity given the pandemic to promote the profile of the AEDC – schools will see the benefits to them.

Success in generally mobilising data in schools

Consultees noted that there has been substantial work in building general data literacy and schools have become increasingly adept at using data.

Building school data literacy has been a big focus. There’s been considerable investment in building principals and assistant principal capacity. Its common now to see data walls in schools, and how individuals are progressing. Like everything it’s a bell curve, but there are more people to the right of that bell curve.

Capability to use data has been driven by both expectation and support.

One example is use of data in strategic planning and annual implementation planning. There are new supports, from the SEILs [Senior Education Improvement Leaders], to delve deeply into it.

There are better data tools. The Panorama1 report is one, which gives easy to read and accessible data reports. They need to be able to click and see what they need to.

Schools all get a common data report [Panorama], so they’re speaking the same language as their colleagues. They’re required to discuss it to develop their action plans.

Data is used by schools to understand individual students and groups of students.

Schools have a large list of individual students who fit the profile for leaving school early, and have data on attendance rates and other indicators of students. There also are many Panorama reports on academic learning as well.

For schools, there is all the AToSS [Attitudes to School Survey] data reports that outline student level attitudes. There are limitations in that, but it does give some indication on the students connectedness to schools and the parents perspectives as well. I think that survey must have been 10 years plus, so its part of the furniture.

2.2 Challenges for data mobilisation

Consultees raised challenges in mobilising use of AEDC data in schools.

Schools have more direct data about students.

It is the classic attendance, literacy, numeracy, completion results that are a key focus. Other areas are student attitude to school, parents attitude to school and teacher opinion surveys. Student attitudes are a proxy for engagement, and there will be interest in that particularly post pandemic.

Part of the benefit of doing the English online assessment is that you get time with kids, then hopefully you’re also getting the SEHQ [School Entrant Health Questionnaire] at a reasonable time. Schools will also use the AToSS data. Therefore they are reasonably expected to bundle all that data up.

In a school, you get much more direct measures of what you might do, or how you might intervene through AToSS data.

Schools may perceive that AEDC data is more intended for use at the community or state level.

The only problem I think the data has is that in general, is not perceived to be individualised. Maybe there’s a sense that this is a census. Maybe there’s a feeling that this is for the department rather than schools.

School levers aren’t that big in driving community change unless the local government wants to get involved.

Collaboration across schools differs so, if the AEDC is a community level indicator, it will be used differently.

Collaboration across schools differs by community. Its probably down to two things. One is the capacity of the SEIL to drive the work. But also the culture of collaboration within the area. … There’s a challenge in elevating the thinking, and that’s the department’s job.

Schools are busy and have different priorities.

There’s always bandwidth challenges. That’s always an issue, but I think its also an issue about ‘profile’ and where does it fit. I think we need to be a bit more deliberate in showing case studies.

2.3 Opportunities to embed data

Key opportunities for mobilising data in schools were raised.

It is important to raise the profile and value of AEDC and comprehensive wellbeing data, particularly in highlighting the link between the data and the current policy context.

I think its about the profile. About what value can the AEDC provide to schools and communities. But from a department perspective, how can we promote that profile.

In the current context I am certainly keen that there is a better measurement framework for student wellbeing. I want a better way to know whether schools have a better pro-social environment. There will be more measurement and expectation around having good systems and processes in place and we’re going to have to work on a reasonable scope for schools to control that. If we’re talking about kids mental health overall, it could be a dashboard to understand how the kids are going. It can’t be a scorecard though – it’s just about finding that boundary.

Embedding the data into school and network strategic planning is a key way it can be mobilised.

It would be beneficial to link the data with the school review process that occurs every 4 years. The data should be released closer to the review cycle so that the data can address the needs of our communities more closely. It will also help schools inform their strategic planning that occurs on an annual basis

They can use that to inform their strategic planning. More recently schools have received funding for equity reasons, which is based on family’s occupation and education backgrounds. It has worked really well. At a senior level, it’s worked to say what does this mean for the strategic plan, your workforce, how can we work with you to make a dataset that supports it

When its used effectively, its discussion at a network level, so they can delve deeply into their cohorts.

The principal networks are healthy at the moment. That would certainly be one of the forums but in my own view is that it would be presented very briefly there. It would be better if the data were presented as part of the school review and planning cycle.

We used to do regional performance framework meetings which presented regional / state level data. To have the AEDC reports data readily available at the same time, that would also be helpful

It is important to communicate the patterns and meaning of the data to build school understanding of the data and its use.

The AEDC gives another set of longitudinal data. We’d like to know if areas can be tracked over years. Or whether the data can be linked individually. I’d be keen to see how AEDC can become more embedded into schools over time.

There are natural areas where it would join well. We have assessments, English online assessments, looking at kids literacy abilities, and I don’t think we do enough data triangulation around the AEDC and how it can inform the other datasets.

The school entry health questionnaire is an obvious one where AEDC data can be connected. The other one is the English online assessment. When prep students start they do an assessment of where they’re at. Schools take great interest because they do it within weeks of starting. Schools are also really much more attuned to where they are in terms of kindergarten and kindergarten participation. They look very closely that can be linked in that they use regularly. They’re the key ones in the early years.

And NAPLAN. You can’t escape NAPLAN. It’s rolling ahead as usual this year so that’s a clear area of linkage with current AEDC data.

Alongside schools, consultees raised the importance of continuing work to build understanding and use of the AEDC data in early childhood.

In early childhood, there’s increasingly Communities of Practice that provide a basis for discussion. In a prior tole, we asked providers who has heard of AEDC: We only got 10 per cent of hands raised.

The focus of SRF [School Readiness Funding] has changed a lot of dynamic amongst EC providers.

References

1 An example Panorama report can be found online – for example: https://www.buckleyparkco.vic.edu.au/uploaded_files/media/supplementary_school_level_2018.pdfExternal Link ; http://tarwinvalleyps.vic.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/School-Performance-Report.pdfExternal Link

Reviewed 21 April 2022

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