CIRES researchers have worked collaboratively with education departments across Australia, as well as other organisations involved in education and training, to strengthen educational reform and improve student outcomes.

These studies draw on contemporary national and international research and best practice from various sources, including academic literature. The projects generate theoretically-informed analyses and grounded research findings, which support the development of better educational policy.

Evaluation of the Fair Education program in New South Wales

Fair Education is a major initiative introduced in New South Wales by the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation (VFFF) and Australian Schools Plus. It offers additional support to selected schools in disadvantaged areas.

Fair Education provides project-specific funds and coaching support over three years to help schools and school leaders improve family and community engagement and enhance student learning.

In 2016, VFFF commissioned CIRES to conduct an independent evaluation of the program. The evaluation was designed to assess the impact of the reforms implemented by schools involved in the first two rounds of the program.

The evaluation’s methodology was multi-pronged, involving the use of:

  • qualitative data collected from schools (via site visits and telephone interviews with school leaders)
  • online survey data of key stakeholders
  • school data on student achievement and engagement.

Deliverables comprised annual progress reports and a final report to VFFF. Evaluation findings were also presented to school and program leaders as well as funding representatives at an annual conference.

Client: Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation

Years: 2016-2020

Low Socio-economic School Communities National Partnership evaluations

CIRES researchers conducted two major evaluations of the Low Socio-economic Status School Communities National Partnership (PDF, 177 KB) (Low SES NP) programs in New South Wales over the period 2011–2015.

School staffing, management & accountability initiatives

CIRES researchers evaluated initiatives associated with staffing, management and accountability implemented by New South Wales schools involved in the Low SES NP.

Over successive years, the evaluation built up detailed case studies of selected schools through site visits, phone interviews and online surveys conducted with principals and teachers. This was complemented by rigorous statistical analysis of large data collections to identify which initiatives associated with staffing, management and accountability were implemented widely, and of those, which proved to be the most effective and sustainable.

School external partnership initiatives

In collaboration with the University of Canberra, CIRES researchers assessed the impact of school external partnerships on student achievement in schools that participated in the Low SES NP.

The research looked at variations in the implementation and effectiveness of different types of partnerships within and between schools, sectors and contexts (for example, location, economic conditions, student composition) through the development of in-depth case studies. It identified what types of school external partnerships are effective and why, and the extent to which they can be replicated in other contexts.

The final report provided recommendations regarding the long-term sustainability of different types of effective school partnerships and how they should be supported.

Client: New South Wales Department of Education and Communities

Years: 2011-2015