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Understanding the Low SES School Communities National Partnership A joint initiative of the Australian and NSW Governments. Education National Partnerships. Teacher Quality. Low SES School Communities. Literacy and Numeracy. www.nationalpartnerships.nsw.edu.au.

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Understanding the Low SES School Communities National Partnership

A joint initiative of the Australian and NSW Governments

Education National Partnerships

Teacher Quality

Low SES School Communities

Literacy and Numeracy


Why a focus on low ses school communities
Why a focus on Low SES School Communities?

  • Currently, there is a significant and unacceptable gap between the average achievement of students from low socio-economic status families as a group and all students.

  • Achievement differences widen across the stages of schooling

Achievement differences widen across stages of schooling because
Achievement differences widen across stages of schooling because:

Demands on learning and behaviour become more complex

The cultural resources of poorer families decline in relative value

Social area processes accumulate multiple disadvantages in poorer schools

Professor Richard Teese, The University of Melbourne, Address at the NSW DET Low SES Symposium May 2009

Low ses school communities national partnership
Low SES School Communities National Partnership

The aims of the Low SES School Communities National Partnership are to:

transform the way that schooling takes place in participating schools and to address the complex and interconnected challenges facing students in disadvantaged communities

improve the educational outcomes of students, including literacy and numeracy outcomes, in targeted schools as well as to improve students’ transition rates to further education and employment.

What are the links to the other national partnerships
What are the links to the other National Partnerships?

Teacher Quality National Partnership

There is compelling evidence that high quality teaching is the most effective method of improving results for students in low SES school communities. This is why the Low SES School Communities National Partnership mandates reforms drawn from the Teacher Quality National Partnership.

Specific related initiatives include:

  • Highly Accomplished Teachers (HATs)

  • Paraprofessionals

  • Centres for excellence

What are the links to the other national partnerships1
What are the links to the other National Partnerships?

Literacy and Numeracy National Partnership

In recognition of the aim to improve literacy and numeracy results, schools will be able to implement evidence-based reforms, such as specific literacy and numeracy interventions, from the Literacy and Numeracy National Partnership.

The Information Package for the Literacy and Numeracy National Partnership along with associated resources can be found at http://www.curriculumsupport.education.nsw.gov.au/national/index.htm

A focus on aboriginal education
A focus on Aboriginal Education

All of the partnerships and in particular the Low SES School Communities National Partnership include specific reforms and strategies to accelerate progress in:

  • improving outcomes for Aboriginal students

  • increasing the number of Aboriginal teachers and Aboriginal school leaders

  • strengthening sustainable partnerships between schools and their local Aboriginal communities.

Low ses school communities national partnership in nsw
Low SES School Communities National Partnership in NSW

510 schools in NSW originally identified by the Commonwealth Government– 447 government and 63 non government schools

Additional government schools added in October 2009, bringing the total to more than 550

Four rounds of schools with implementation staggeredbetween 2009 and 2012. 7 years in total implementation

Identified schools will be funded for a period of 4 years.

Two methods of identification
Two methods of identification

A list created by the Australian Government to a national methodology. The methodology was based on the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Index of Relative Socio-economic Disadvantage (IRSD), constructed from the 2006 Census.

Additional Government schools using State based criteria

Low ses school communities national partnership in det
Low SES School Communities National Partnership in DET

18,300 Aboriginal students, representing 46.6% per cent of the total Aboriginal students in government schools in New South Wales

69% primary schools, 18 % secondary, 8% central schools, 5% Schools for Specific Purposes (SSPs)

Enrolments in these schools are divided into 55% primary, 39% secondary schools, 5% central schools and 1% in SSPs

21% of the schools are ‘small’ schools with an enrolment of less than 52

6% of schools are considered remote or very remote

68% of all government schools participating in this National Partnership also receive Priority Schools Programs resources.

Key messages
Key messages

Innovation not compensation – transform schooling

High expectations of significant and sustainable improvements in student learning outcomes – lasting value

Build capacity

Change outcomes not experiences

Maximise the use of the school’s total resource and where appropriate the total resource available across a community of schools.

Summarised from Professor Richard Teese, The University of Melbourne, Address at the NSW DET Low SES Symposium May 2009


To improve outcomes for students, the absolute priority in this National Partnership will be on steps that directly lift the availability of high quality teaching. While schools have the flexibility to try new and innovative approaches, and to engage closely with their community, this should be done within a framework where teacher quality interventions are the building-blocks for reform in each school.

Mandatory actions
Mandatory actions

To ensure that resources are directed to the highest priority teacher quality reforms, schools are required to, as a first priority, undertake the following two mandatory elements within the school plan:

Actions to improve the availability of high quality teaching. These actions connect to Low SES Reform 1

Professional development for school executives and teachers to help them use and analyse data to cater to student needs. These actions connect to Low SES Reform 4

Aspects of these elements are also reflected in Reforms 2 and 5.

Six reforms
Six Reforms

Schools should ensure that the mandatory elements are evident in the school plan along with strategies to address each of the following six Low SES School Communities Reforms

Reform 1
Reform 1

Incentives to attract high-performing teachers and principals

Options are aimed at both attracting and retaining high quality staff and improving the capacity of existing staff.

Sample strategies:

Highly Accomplished Teachers (HATs), mentoring programs for Principals, cross sectoral professional networks, site-based professional learning, working with academic partners

Reform 2
Reform 2

Adoption of best-practice performance measurement and staffing arrangements that articulate a clear role for principals

These reforms acknowledge the role of school leadership from school executives to teachers.

Sample strategies:

experienced teachers and mentors supporting early career teachers, shared executive across sites eg. middle years.

Reform 3
Reform 3

3. School operational arrangements that encourage innovation and flexibility

The success of the Partnership will rely on the ability of schools to put in place clear strategies that will have a direct impact on student outcomes. These reforms promote innovation in school organisation.

Sample strategies:

employ paraprofessional staff, flexible organisation practices including timetabling and extended school hours, working in local communities of schools, expanding curriculum using technology, teaching teams working across schools with Aboriginal, ESL and refugee students, shared timetables

Reform 4
Reform 4

Provision of innovative and tailored learning opportunities

Identifying and targeting specific student needs will be essential if schools are to make measurable improvements. The ability to use student assessment and other data to identify individual, class and school needs will be critical to the success of the reforms.

Sample strategies:

implement evidence-based and focused interventions, transition plans for students, individualised learning plans for particular students, Personalised Learning Plans for Aboriginal students, professional development for school executives and teachers on data analysis

Reform 5
Reform 5

5.Strengthen school accountability

Transparent planning and reporting mechanisms that clearly outline the goals to be achieved, the strategies to be implemented and the methods to be used for assessing outcomes against the plan.

Sample strategies:

interviews with the whole school community, strengthened assessment of teachers and school leaders, develop teams across sites to evaluate outcomes of school plans, external evaluation, case studies of students and cohorts, publicly available annual reports

Reform 6
Reform 6

6. External partnerships with parents, other schools, businesses and communities and the provision of access to extended services (including through brokering arrangements)

This reform direction will strengthen schools’ ability to address identified needs through ongoing engagement with the broader community.

Sample strategies:

extension of schools as community centres, parents participate in school planning, workshops with parents to help children with learning, transition programs, partnerships with key community organisations eg. AECG, transition to school programs, allied health services, employment of partnership officers to build parent and community partnerships


Advice for schools is located at



Regular newsletter

How do schools get started
How do schools get started?

Conduct a situational analysis

Participate in joint planning

Revise School Plan

School Education Director approves revised School Plan

Situational analysis
Situational analysis

The situational analysis involves an assessment of the school’s quantitative and qualitative data. The assessment of data and information collected through the analysis will inform the school situational analysis report.

This will be a brief report that will enable the aggregation and synthesis of information to support a school to determine the most appropriate strategies to significantly improve learning outcomes, teaching and leadership practices and community partnerships.

Who should be involved
Who should be involved?

The Principal will lead the situational analysis in consultation with the whole school community including representatives from the staff, students and key stakeholder groups within the school community.

school executive

teaching staff



Parents & Citizens’ Association

local Aboriginal Education Consultative Group (AECG)

key community groups involved in the school (as appropriate)

regional officers

What do schools need to do
What do schools need to do?

  • Undertake a SMART training workshop (or equivalent – regions may have already undertaken a process with schools)

  • Analyse the school’s NAPLAN data in literacy and numeracy for areas of strength and those for further development

  • Use the school’s electronic Data Summary Sheet (2008 eDSS) to gather information about attendance, retention, enrolment, SC and HSC results

What do schools need to do1
What do schools need to do?

  • Compile a Staff profile for the purpose of targeting professional learning experiences – schools may wish to use their OASIS staffing report, DASA survey, professional learning audit, TPL financial report, survey information from staff, lesson observations

  • Conduct a community/parent survey or focus group discussions to establish some baseline information about community engagement – sample focus group questions, surveys and data input templates will be provided to support schools with this process should they wish to use them

  • Communicate their findings – using the situational analysis report template provided at www.lowsesschools.nsw.edu.au (or an equivalent).

Situational analysis report
Situational Analysis report


  • The Situational Analysis team identified through rigorous NAPLAN analysis that …

  • Data collected also identified that…

  • The surveys and focus groups indicated that…

  • There is evidence that…

  • Teachers need…

  • Students expressed…

  • Effective partnerships with parents and carers must be further developed…

Joint planning
Joint planning

  • Following the completion of the situational analysis, your school will be required to participate in joint planning with other schools participating in the Low SES School Communities National Partnership to share outcomes of the situational analysis and develop mutually beneficial strategies from the reforms.

  • Schools must work with parents and their community throughout the planning phase. In particular, for schools with Aboriginal students, this includes engaging with Aboriginal families, Aboriginal community members and the local Aboriginal Education Consultative Group (AECG).

Revising the school plan
Revising the School Plan

The strategies in the School Plan should explicitly reflect the six Low SES Reforms and identify funding from the Low SES School Communities National Partnership and other funding sources.

Strategies must be:

  • linked to achieving school targets and intended outcomes within the key priority areas identified in the Office of Schools Plan

  • linked to achieving outcomes in the Aboriginal Education and Training Strategy 2009-2012

  • weighted to those that are close to the classroom and directly impact on student learning outcomes

  • weighted to those that are designed to improve high quality teaching and strengthen community engagement

Approval of school plans
Approval of School Plans

School Plans demonstrating strategies linked to reforms and NP funding, will be approved by School Education Directors

attesting that the school is implementing the most effective options from the reform menu for the school context

and submitted to the Regional Director for endorsement.

Approval of school plans1
Approval of School Plans

Upon endorsement by the Regional Director:

  • schools are required to publish the School Plan on the school website.

  • regions will forward an electronic copy of the endorsed School Plans to schoolplans@lowsesschools.nsw.edu.au

How is funding allocated
How is funding allocated?

Participating schools will receive Low SES School Communities National Partnership funding for four years.

These funds should be used in conjunction with other resources available in the school to support school improvement.

In Term 4 each year, schools will be advised of their notional allocation from the Low SES School Communities National Partnership for the following year.

Allocations will be distributed to schools each calendar year as two semester payments.


The School Plan and the Annual School Report remain the key documentation for planning, implementing, monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of the reforms implemented as part of the Low SES School Communities National Partnership.

Performance measures
Performance measures

Schools will be required to report publicly on the outcomes of their School Plans through Annual School Reports.

Performance measures will include:

  • Student attendance

  • Literacy and Numeracy performance (NAPLAN)

  • Year 12 or equivalent attainment

  • Student destinations

  • School satisfaction (students & parents)

  • Student and school community engagement

State and national evaluation
State and National evaluation

  • Acoordinated assessment framework across all three National Partnerships

  • A consistent evaluation framework to enable responsiveness to emerging evidence

  • A national evaluation commissioned by the Commonwealth Government