School Success Model

The NSW Department of Education’s new School Success Model replaces Local Schools, Local Decisions. The new model complements other school improvement work currently under way such as the curriculum review reforms and will help ensure that every student, teacher, leader and school improves every year.

Background

The Local Schools, Local Decisions reform recognised that school leaders are experts who are best placed to make contextual decisions for their students and communities. While the reforms enabled many schools to address local needs more effectively, it did not lead to improved results across our system.

Research shows we needed to set clear parameters around decision-making as well as expectations for schools and the system. We need to improve the support we offer schools to lift capability, while freeing up time for schools to focus on teaching, learning and leading. We have consulted widely to develop an evidence-based approach to tailor the support schools need to drive student outcomes.

The NSW Department of Education’s new School Success Model replaces Local Schools, Local Decisions. The new model complements other school improvement work currently under way such as the curriculum review reforms and will help ensure that every student, teacher, leader and school improves every year.

The new model

The School Success Model builds on existing foundations – particularly the School Excellence Framework and the Strategic Improvement Plan. The School Success Model balances stronger support for schools to make evidence-based decisions with clearer responsibilities for performance targets.

The School Success Model delivers:

  • evidence-based guidance on effective practice that improves student outcomes
  • more support for schools that need it the most
  • less administrative burden
  • stronger and clearer responsibilities for schools and the system
  • recognition and the scaling of practice of our most successful schools.

The NSW Department of Education’s new School Success Model replaces Local Schools, Local Decisions. The new model complements other school improvement work currently under way such as the curriculum review reforms and will help ensure that every student, teacher, leader and school improves every year.

Delivering support where it is needed

The model will use evidence from different aspects of school performance to direct and customise support to schools more effectively. All schools will have access to evidence-based guidance. Schools where improvement outcomes are more challenging to obtain will receive strengthened support and direction.

The NSW Department of Education’s new School Success Model replaces Local Schools, Local Decisions. The new model complements other school improvement work currently under way such as the curriculum review reforms and will help ensure that every student, teacher, leader and school improves every year.

Learning from the best

The School Success Model will feature an innovative pilot program commencing in 2021 that seeks to share and scale best practice from the most successful schools across the breadth and depth of the system. The School Success Model will provide schools with tools to ensure that every student benefits from the very best teaching methods.

The NSW Department of Education’s new School Success Model replaces Local Schools, Local Decisions. The new model complements other school improvement work currently under way such as the curriculum review reforms and will help ensure that every student, teacher, leader and school improves every year.

We’re all responsible

The School Success Model is clear that everyone in Education is responsible for improving student outcomes – school leaders, teachers, support staff and the system more broadly.

Our schools are responsible for improving student outcomes and have signed up for ambitious student performance targets. The School Success Model outlines support for schools to achieve their targets, as well as the responsibilities of everyone across our system.

Just as there are targets for schools to achieve, there will be ambitious targets for the system to achieve to reduce administrative burden and ensure it provides evidence-based support, guidance and direction to lift school and student performance.

For example, student attendance is one area where there is room for improvement at both the school and system levels. Attendance is fundamental to ensuring students develop important social connections and maximise learning opportunities.

The department has established a target to increase the proportion of our students attending school more than 90 percent of the time.

A Term 4 2020 pilot to lift attendance rates in nearly 50 schools across the state has yielded early uplifts. Following support in the areas of self-assessment, professional learning and rich data analysis, these schools have seen their attendance rates increase from 84 percent to 87 percent in 7 weeks, equating to an additional 4,670 student learning days.

With the pilot set to continue into Term 1 2021, the ongoing successes from Term 4 2020 will be scaled and shared across the system. That way, even more NSW students will benefit and all schools will be on track to achieving their targets by 2022.

The NSW Department of Education’s new School Success Model replaces Local Schools, Local Decisions. The new model complements other school improvement work currently under way such as the curriculum review reforms and will help ensure that every student, teacher, leader and school improves every year.

Ambassador schools


The first of several schools have been selected to take part in the program:

  • Auburn North Public School
  • Fairvale High School
  • Milthorpe Public School.

Over the next year, as we develop a research base, we will develop a deeper understanding of their effective practice so that we can scale this and drive student success and achievement.

The NSW Department of Education’s new School Success Model replaces Local Schools, Local Decisions. The new model complements other school improvement work currently under way such as the curriculum review reforms and will help ensure that every student, teacher, leader and school improves every year.

Frequently asked questions

  • The School Success Model commences Day 1 Term 1 2021, with a phased implementation.
  • In 2021, Phase 1 delivers student performance targets, tailored and triaged support for schools that need it the most, a pilot program for high-performing schools, strengthened system guidance, and reduced administrative burden.
  • By the end of Term 1 2021, schools will complete the School Excellence in Action planning process, which will set out their strategic improvement plans for achieving their student performance targets. This process links the school planning process with the School Excellence Framework self-assessment and external validation processes.
  • In 2022, Phase 2 further reduces the school administrative burden by simplifying the school budget, improving system-wide reporting and continuing work to refine data-based tailored support.
  • Phase 3 delivers full implementation based on school performance against all targets by the end of 2022.

  • Principals will continue to make evidence-based decisions, develop strategic improvement plans, as well as lead staff and work with their communities to improve outcomes for students.
  • Principals will have improved guidance and more targeted support to help them achieve their strategic improvement goals.

  • The reform builds on the Premier’s Priority targets in reading and numeracy (top 2 NAPLAN bands) and Aboriginal students attaining the HSC while maintaining cultural identity.
  • From Term 1 2021, additional school targets will be implemented for the HSC, student attendance, and students’ expected growth in reading and numeracy.
  • From 2021, all Year 1 students will be required to undergo a compulsory Phonics Screening Check, and in 2022 a measure and baseline will be established for senior school student pathways. Student wellbeing targets will be baselined in 2021.
  • School targets are set in the context of the performance of schools with statistically similar characteristics.

  • Schools that require significant improvement to meet targets will receive additional support and direction from the department.

  • Ambitious system targets will be developed and implemented for 2021 that recognise the role and importance of system support for schools.
  • Specific system-level targets will be set for the first phase of the reform to reduce administrative burden.

The NSW Department of Education’s new School Success Model replaces Local Schools, Local Decisions. The new model complements other school improvement work currently under way such as the curriculum review reforms and will help ensure that every student, teacher, leader and school improves every year.

The targets

The School Success Model details a range of ambitious yet reasonable targets, for schools and the system, which build upon the NSW Premier’s Priorities in education and reflect our shared commitment for improvement.

In addition to the targets outlined here, all Year 1 students will be required to undergo a compulsory Phonics Screening Check from 2021. Student wellbeing targets will be baselined in 2021.

Target area Department targets School targets

NAPLAN

Increase public school students in top two NAPLAN bands for literacy and numeracy by 15%. (Premier’s Priority 2023)

Individual school targets in place from 2020.

Aboriginal Education

Increase Aboriginal students attaining the HSC while maintaining their cultural identity by 50%.
(Premier’s Priority 2023)

Individual school network targets in place from 2020 (percentage uplift). Individual school student uplift in place that underpins the network target.

HSC

Proportion of students’ HSC results in the top two achievement bands from 34.6% (2018) to 35.7% (2022).

Individual school targets in place from 2021.

Attendance

Public school students attending school at least 90% of the time from 79.4% (2018) to 82% (2022) Primary and 64.5% (2018) to 70% (2022) Secondary.

Individual school targets in place from 2021.

Student growth (equity)

Public school students achieving expected growth in reading and numeracy from 62.3% (2018) to 66.4% (2022).

Individual school targets in place from 2021.

Pathways

Recent school leavers participating in higher education, training or work from 89.6% (2018) to 91.6% (2022) and 93.6% (2028).

Students continuing to Year 12 from 73.9% (2018)
to 76.7%
(2022).

A measure will be selected with a baseline established for each high school in 2022, and with targets set for every high school from 2023.

The NSW Department of Education’s new School Success Model replaces Local Schools, Local Decisions. The new model complements other school improvement work currently under way such as the curriculum review reforms and will help ensure that every student, teacher, leader and school improves every year.

References

Frequently asked questions

The development of the School Success Model considered a range of primary and secondary research into best-practice educational governance, strategies to drive system-wide improvement to student outcomes, and effective methods of school reform design and evaluation. A condensed reference list is included below.

This summary outlines the three main research questions considered during the policy development of the School Success Model. Additional primary evidence included the Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation’s Local Schools, Local Decisions (LSLD) evaluation interim report, final report, and the NSW Auditor General’s performance audit, Local Schools, Local Decisions: needs-based equity funding.

As regional and national schooling systems have grown and become more complex over the past decades, effective education governance has increasingly become the subject of research attention.

There are significant differences in the ways in which countries such as Australia, the UK, and the US have pursued reform. Given the large degree of variation in the size and complexity of education systems like these, evaluation of their different education governance structures does not provide definitive evidence to other countries about ideal system organisation and management.

The OECD has sought to address this gap in the evidence-base with their Strategic Education Governance project, which identifies and interrogates six interrelated domains of effective governance for further investigation: accountability, capacity, knowledge governance, stakeholder involvement, strategic thinking, and whole-of-system perspective.

Establishing strong accountability within education systems requires the clear allocation of responsibility for decision making, with corresponding mechanisms for outcome measurement. Both localised and centralised decision-making are associated with costs and benefits, and some policy actions require responsibility to be shared. The responsiveness of schools to their community, for example, means that principals are best-placed to make decisions about how to select remedial programs for students facing disruptions due to unforeseen events, where the institutional stability of the department enables it to oversee evaluation of the effectiveness of these resources. Decisions should be made according to consistent principles which take these costs and benefits into account and have transparent logic which can be applied to new policy contexts as priorities change.

Evidence from successful international education systems demonstrates that carefully calibrated accountability measures are vital in ensuring that school improvement lifts the performance of all schools, high expectations are maintained for all students, and outstanding performance is recognised in a range of school contexts. Education governance should be designed to maximise transparency while minimising accountability burdens, such as reporting and compliance costs, perverse incentives and inhibiting innovation, and this is why strengthened education governance is a central focus of the School Success Model. 

OECD research provides evidence of a relationship between school autonomy and accountability and improved student outcomes, in instances where autonomy and accountability are ‘intelligently combined’ (OECD 2010, as cited by NSW Department of Education and Communities 2012, p. 26).

In its LSLD final evaluation report, CESE recommended that schools should be subject to appropriate scrutiny and accountability around the decisions they make to target school and student outcomes, while the department should take a greater role in providing support to schools to make these local decisions.

The NSW Government's review of Local Schools Local Decisions was undertaken to ensure the right balance between autonomy, accountability, and support for schools.

The development of the School Success Model included consideration of system improvement programs in New Zealand and Ontario, Canada. While the differences between each system are considerable, both Ontario and New Zealand serve cohorts with demographic similarities to New South Wales and have developed promising programs that target support resources to schools according to performance and need.

One feature the two systems share is the use of student outcome data to target support to underperforming schools and disadvantaged student cohorts. The Ontario Focused Intervention Partnership program, for example, provides support to schools that underperform in comparison to contextually comparable schools, where this support is tailored according to need. In New Zealand, research has indicated the effectiveness of data-targeted support in addressing the needs of disadvantaged cohorts, with particular success in improving educational outcomes for Māori and Pasifika student cohorts in a variety of outcome areas, including literacy, numeracy, and participation in tertiary education.

In order to effectively and equitably drive performance improvement, performance accountability frameworks must be appropriately calibrated. This requires the reform program to:

  1. determine a range of nuanced performance targets, avoiding the creation of perverse incentives
  2. select corresponding accountability measures, and evaluate performance against these measures with consideration of school and student context
  3. develop school support mechanisms which are fit-for-purpose, provided in a timely manner, and evaluated regularly.

Another common feature of many high-achieving education systems is the use of programs to facilitate collaboration between high-performing schools and educators via research networks and professional learning communities. Research networks capitalise on the expertise of teachers and encourage peer-to-peer learning and the alignment of evidence and practice. In Ontario, for example, the Leading Student Achievement: Networks for Learning project, developed in partnership between principals and the Ontario Ministry for Education, was identified by principals to be particularly impactful because of the way the project linked research and professional practice.

Successful reform strategies distinguish between the needs of schools operating in different contexts but also take advantage of the benefits of system size by encouraging collaboration between schools and practice-led research. In response, the School Success Model has sought to incorporate non-punitive use of performance data that is regularly reviewed for effectiveness.

The School Success model has also been developed in response to feedback regarding the necessity of clearly defined program aims and the importance of careful implementation management and evaluation.

Evaluation of system-wide education reform initiatives also highlights the necessity of well-planned policy implementation, the delivery of appropriate support to school staff, and the need for reform programs to be designed for flexibility, adaptability, and to include regular evaluation and adjustment.

Evaluations of both the 2013 LSLD reform and of policy programs involving the redistribution of decision-making authority in other Australian jurisdictions have emphasised the importance of capacity building and implementation management when designing system reforms. Where there is a focus on capacity building and implementation management, this helps to minimise disruption to schools. The need for robust program logic design was also identified in CESE’s evaluation and the NSW Auditor General’s audit of the 2013 LSLD reform, including the identification of clear policy objectives, evaluation criteria, outcome measurement, and robust reporting requirements

The phased implementation and regular evaluation schedule of the School Success Model have been developed to address these concerns, allow for the development and refinement of appropriate evaluation criteria, and support flexibility as our schooling system evolves.

Additional references

List is non-exhaustive; citation does not imply endorsement.

Download the School Success Model

More information

For more information, email SchoolSuccess@det.nsw.edu.au.
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