The agreement by Education Council to provide $50 million in funding over four years for a new national evidence institute helps pave the way for an era of evidence-informed education in Australia, according to education non-profit Evidence for Learning (E4L).
E4L was established by Social Ventures Australia in 2015 as a demonstration model of a national evidence institute, based on the best examples both in Australia and internationally, but tailored for the federation.
Over the past five years it has been enabling and supporting evidence-informed practice in Australian school and early childhood education with a goal of ensuring that great practice becomes common practice in schools and early learning centres across the country.
On Friday, Education Council, comprised of the nine Commonwealth, State and Territory Ministers, committed to establishing the institute by the end of the year, funded equally between the two tiers of government to ensure the most effective approaches in teaching and learning both in Australia and abroad can be identified, tested and when proven can be spread throughout Australia’s schools and early learning centres.
Evidence for Learning director Matthew Deeble says:
“Governments originally committed to establishing a national evidence institute back in 2018 as part of the National Schools Reform Agreement. This funding announcement and the promise to establish the institute this year will give the education sector, teachers and parents confidence that our leaders are committed to using evidence to improve children’s learning.”
“The national evidence institute will be crucial to equipping our teachers with the best information so they can make evidence-informed choices that will lift learning for every child.”
“Developed in the right way, it will help spread best practice across all schools, which is especially important for the great educators working in the most challenging circumstances and communities.”
“Similar bodies overseas have been a catalyst for improved learning outcomes, particularly for vulnerable students, and the new institute can help bridge the learning gap between students from low-income background and their classmates from higher-income families.”
Operating nationally and across all sectors, E4L has a deep understanding of what it takes to run an effective national evidence broker and hopes to share these insights as part of the establishment of the national evidence institute.
“It is critical the national evidence institute is established with core features of independence, rigour and is of practical value to educators” added Mr Deeble.
Education Council also announced that Dr Jenny Donovan has been appointed as the institute’s inaugural director and Deeble offered his congratulations on behalf of the E4L team.
In addition to her recent roles as Managing Director of the Online Formative Assessment Initiative and as Executive Director of the Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation in the New South Wales Department of Education, Dr Donovan serves as chair of E4L’s Research Use and Evaluation Committee. The independent committee provides guidance to E4L’s Learning Impact Fund, which is used to commission research trials of promising education programs, and on promoting research use.
“Jenny is eminently qualified and is a well-respected figure in Australian education. We are delighted to see her lead this vital work for Australia’s future,” Deeble says.
“E4L looks forward to working with Dr Donovan as she consults with stakeholders and begins developing its research agenda.”