Independent ‘evidence broker’ needed for schools

Independent ‘evidence broker’ needed for schools
As students return to school, there have been calls for an independent ‘evidence broker’ to ensure that Gonski 2.0 money is being spent on what the evidence shows works.

The call was made today by Social Ventures Australia (SVA) – a non-profit organisation – in a submission to the Gonski 2.0 panel.

The independent expert body would synthesise current knowledge and make it accessible for educators and policy makers; commission and publish reports on rigorous trials; support schools to work with evidence in the classrooms; and enhance evidence-based decision-making by governments and education authorities.

SVA’s submission recommends federal funding of $150m over 10 years as an endowment to ensure the evidence body’s independence and sustained positive influence on all sectors of Australian education. This is a smart investment that ensures our $50bn annual spend on education is targeted more wisely and effectively.

 “Australia has great teachers and school leaders and we need to equip them with the best evidence of what works to make sure our children make the most progress from the effort going in,” Rob Koczkar, CEO of SVA, said.

“An independent evidence broker will support teachers and schools to continuously improve and thereby lift the achievement of their students.”

Matthew Deeble, director of Evidence for Learning, a social enterprise incubated by SVA, said that to turn around Australia’s declining education performance we need to focus on system-wide support for more effective practices.

“Countries such as England, Canada and the US are already working to lift education outcomes by strengthening the use of evidence in schools,” Deeble said.

Deeble said that while Federal Education Minister, Simon Birmingham, has called for funding to be spent on programs that evidence shows works, governments have not yet agreed on how to achieve this.

“We looked at international education systems and engaged many participants in the local education sector; teachers, policy makers and academics, to understand what can be done to improve learning,” he said.

“An independent, national and cross-sectoral body that is focused on building, sharing and encouraging the use of evidence to improve educational outcomes and works collaboratively with all stakeholders in our complex system represents the best model for Australia and our learners.”

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