Education and employment

Quality education—from early childhood learning, through primary and secondary schooling, to vocational education and training and university study—gives people the knowledge and skills to participate effectively in economic and social life. In turn, this increases Australia’s productivity and competitiveness within the global economy. But there is a significant gap between the highest and lowest performing students.

Governments fund schools and educational institutions, set standards, and support specific programs for people with disability and people from low socioeconomic and remote communities, or Indigenous and non-English speaking backgrounds who face an educational disadvantage.

In recent years, in the early childhood sector, there has been a focus on quality standards, workforce development, and improving accessibility and participation. In schools, initiatives have centred on improving teacher quality and school leadership, increasing accountability and better directing resources, implementing integrated strategies for low socioeconomic school communities, measuring student learning, ensuring all children meet literacy and numeracy standards, and improving outcomes for Indigenous students. There are also ongoing initiatives to support student wellbeing—like counselling and other support services—and mentoring and alternative learning programs.


Project examples

Click on any of the following projects for more information.

Business Intelligence Implementation Evaluation

(NSW Department of Education and Communities, 2015)

Business Intelligence Implementation Evaluation

(NSW Department of Education and Communities, 2015)

The Department of Education has developed a Business Intelligence Tool to make it easier for Principals, Directors, Public Schools and corporate staff to access the information they need for planning and decision making and for analysts to create reports. ARTD undertook an independent formative evaluation of the first release. We analysed available administrative data, surveyed training participants, conducted a pre- and post-survey of a sample of users of the Tool, and interviewed all user types at two time points. The evaluation report will inform the rollout of further releases and support for ongoing use of the Tool.

Evaluation of student survey trial

(NSW Department of Education and Communities, 2014)

Evaluation of student survey trial

(NSW Department of Education and Communities, 2014)

This evaluation assessed the implementation of the Tell Them From Me student survey trial and the survey’s capacity to provide school principals with the data they need for school improvement planning and the Department with data to measure drivers of school performance. The student survey was trialled twice, and we used surveys of principals and school coordinators, case study visits to five schools and stakeholder interviews to gather evidence for its effectiveness. The evaluation found that the student survey provided most schools with valuable data for their planning and the Department is able to use the data to explore how student engagement and wellbeing is linked to performance.

Evaluation of the Early Intervention Pilot for Responding to Educational Neglect

(NSW Department of Education and Communities, 2014)

Evaluation of the Early Intervention Pilot for Responding to Educational Neglect

(NSW Department of Education and Communities, 2014)

In 2011, the NSW Ombudsman raised concerns about the ability of NSW agencies to work effectively together to respond to children who are subject to educational neglect. Two pilots were established to test approaches for improving attendance. The Early Intervention Pilot identified and responded to underlying issues affecting attendance through coordinated case management. ARTD was engaged to undertake a process and outcomes evaluation of the pilot, using evidence from attendance data, surveys and interviews. The evaluation concluded that there was sufficient evidence to justify a more extensive trial. The Department found our report to be very comprehensive and an accurate and fair representation of the project. The report was used to inform future planning around the needs of children subject to educational neglect.

Survey of Specialist Medical Colleges

(Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare, 2014)

Survey of Specialist Medical Colleges

(Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare, 2014)

The National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards were developed by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare to improve the quality of health service provision in Australia. They provide a nationally consistent statement of the level of care consumers should expect from health service organisations. The Commission engaged ARTD to review curriculum documentation and survey the 15 Specialist Medical Colleges in Australia to assess the educational content in their postgraduate and continuing professional development programs relevant to the Standards. We conducted the survey online, inviting representatives from each College to take part. Our final report highlighted which Standards were and which were not well covered, and suggested ways to facilitate enhanced coverage.

Graduate Diploma in Indigenous Health Promotion: Evaluation of the Alumni Project

(University of Sydney, 2014)

Graduate Diploma in Indigenous Health Promotion: Evaluation of the Alumni Project

(University of Sydney, 2014)

Established in the School of Public Health, University of Sydney, in 1998, the Graduate Diploma in Indigenous Health Promotion aims to provide: a pathway to higher education for Indigenous health workers; a globally recognised qualification; and knowledge and skills specifically for advanced health promotion in urban, rural and remote Indigenous communities. The diploma program received funding to enhance students’ learning experience through alumni returning to contribute to the block teaching program. ARTD was invited to support an evaluation of the Alumni Project and worked collaboratively with staff and students to measure the outcomes of the program through surveys and interviews. Positive findings resulted in further funding being sought to continue the Alumni Project. A paper on the findings has been prepared for publication in an appropriate academic journal.

Development of an evaluation framework and strategy for Teach Remote

(Northern Territory Department of Education, 2014)

Development of an evaluation framework and strategy for Teach Remote

(Northern Territory Department of Education, 2014)

Teach Remote was a teacher quality and supply measure for remote Indigenous schools, comprising 14 cross-jurisdictional projects and coordinated by the National Research Alliance for Indigenous Schools. ARTD developed an evaluation framework and strategy for this measure and conducted a formative evaluation of the first phase. The formative evaluation drew on evidence from project reports, interviews with project managers and surveys of teachers working in Indigenous schools. The evaluation found mixed success across the different projects with a fairly low level of awareness among teachers and a lack of buy-in from jurisdictions limiting the implementation of some projects. The second phase of Teach Remote was not funded.

Review of Links to Learning for youth at risk

(NSW Department of Education and Communities, 2013)

Review of Links to Learning for youth at risk

(NSW Department of Education and Communities, 2013)

Links to Learning is targeted at students in Years 7 to 12 at risk of disengaging from education and young people who have left school before completing Year 12 and are not enrolled in Vocational Education and Training. The Department funds non-government organisations and local government authorities to deliver innovative projects designed engage these students in education. ARTD reviewed the program’s effectiveness, efficiency and appropriateness. We used a mixed-method design, drawing on a desktop analysis and literature review, online survey of program providers, key informant interviews, and stakeholder forums. The findings were used to develop a more strategic approach to the program and identify priorities for resourcing the new model.

Evaluation of cultural immersion training program for teachers

(NSW Department of Education and Communities, 2013)

Evaluation of cultural immersion training program for teachers

(NSW Department of Education and Communities, 2013)

Connecting to Country is an innovative new program designed to develop teachers’ and principals’ willingness and ability to establish relationships with Aboriginal students through learning about their cultural, linguistic and family background. The program aims to promote quality teaching, and improve engagement and educational outcomes for Aboriginal students. ARTD’s evaluation focused on understanding and describing the impact of the program on principals, teachers, and Aboriginal students, their families and local communities. To get an in-depth understanding , we used mainly qualitative methods: observation of training sessions and interviews with principals, teachers, Aboriginal students and community representatives. Our report informed ongoing implementation of the program in NSW, and the Department submitted it to the Commonwealth Department of Education as part of the evidence about the value of the program.

Cross-Sectoral Impact Survey of Smarter Schools National Partnerships schools in NSW

(NSW Department of Education and Communities, 2012-2014)

Cross-Sectoral Impact Survey of Smarter Schools National Partnerships schools in NSW

(NSW Department of Education and Communities, 2012-2014)

The Cross-Sectoral Impact Survey (CSIS) was developed to inform overall assessment of the effectiveness of Smarter Schools National Partnerships in NSW. It was distributed to principals and executives in all 936 participating schools, and to teachers in a sample of 615 schools, in waves from 2011 to 2013. ARTD managed the administration of the survey waves and undertook quantitative and qualitative analysis of the survey data. We produced descriptive and interpretive reports on principals', executives' and teachers' perceptions of the changes, successes and challenges as a result of the National Partnerships in 2011, 2012 and 2013. The three CSIS reports document both the extent of reform in critical education practices at the individual staff member, school and system level and the sustainability of the reforms. The Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation (CESE) CSIS reports have been used by the CESE and its Advisory Council as part of their overall assessment of the effectiveness of the Partnerships in NSW. The reports also provided contextual information for four National Partnership-specific strategic evaluations.

Framework for and evaluation of Innovative Community Action Networks

(Department of Education and Children's Services, 2012-13)

Framework for and evaluation of Innovative Community Action Networks

(Department of Education and Children's Services, 2012-13)

Innovative Community Action Networks is a state-wide strategy developed by the South Australian Government to address disengagement from education and learning in upper primary and high school years. ARTD worked with the Department to develop a logic model and evaluation framework for the program. We were subsequently engaged to conduct a process and outcomes evaluation in two stages. We used a mixed-method design. Qualitative data provided evidence about context and implementation. We measured outcomes for the 2011 cohort of around 4,000 students using attendance, behaviour and learning achievements data and a validated survey instrument measuring engagement in learning, relationships and wellbeing.  The findings were used throughout the project to inform the ongoing development of the strategy and provide a case for its future resourcing.

Stakeholder consultation for school counselling services review

(NSW Department of Education and Communities, 2012)

Stakeholder consultation for school counselling services review

(NSW Department of Education and Communities, 2012)

In 2012, the Department undertook a review of counselling services available to children and young people in NSW Government schools. ARTD managed the stakeholder consultation component. We collected feedback from 5,000 stakeholders over three months. Over 600 school counsellors and district guidance officers, nearly 900 principals, and nearly 200 students completed online surveys. We interviewed principals/ deputy principals (n=65), school counsellors (n=34), district guidance officers (n=19), parents (n=23), and representatives of 6 government agencies, and ran focus groups with students from across NSW, regional support staff and peak organisations. We randomly selected school staff for interviews using a stratified sampling strategy to ensure we spoke to staff working in the full range of contexts across NSW. We also reviewed formal submissions from agencies and organisations. Our report provided the Department with an overview of the range and nature of school counselling services, their strengths and weaknesses, and trends in student counselling needs. In 2013, we prepared a monograph to summarise the findings for publication.

Review of the School-based Management Pilot

(NSW Department of Education and Communities, 2011)

Review of the School-based Management Pilot

(NSW Department of Education and Communities, 2011)

The School-based Management Pilot (also known as the 47 Schools Pilot) gave participating schools increased flexibility and authority for making local decisions. ARTD undertook an independent review of the pilot, focused on capturing the views and experiences of principals. We collected primary data (through interviews and surveys) from members of the Schools Pilot Oversight Group, pilot school principals and a small number of Parents and Citizens association representatives. We also reviewed data and information available from the internal evaluation of the pilot, and analysed available data on pilot initiatives. Our findings, conclusions and recommendations were presented to key stakeholders to inform future decisions about school-based management. Full and summary reports are available on the Department of Education and Communities website.

Evaluation of initial implementation of the Smarter Schools National Partnerships in NSW

(NSW Department of Education and Training, 2010)

Evaluation of initial implementation of the Smarter Schools National Partnerships in NSW

(NSW Department of Education and Training, 2010)

In 2009, the NSW education sector delivered three Smarter Schools National Partnership programs in NSW: Low Socio-economic Status School Communities, Literacy and Numeracy, and Teacher Quality. ARTD was engaged to develop an evaluation framework and evaluate the initial implementation of the program, using a mixed-methods design. We analysed student testing information, surveyed principals of schools participating in the partnerships, interviewed a random sample of principals, and ran focus groups with program facilitators and school support staff. Results were used to improve the implementation of the second stage of the Partnership.