About the Smarter Schools National Partnerships

About the Smarter Schools National Partnerships

The Smarter Schools National Partnerships were established across Australia to achieve the outcomes, objectives and targets for schooling arising from the National Education Agreement, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) participation and productivity agenda and the 2008 Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians.

Five high-level outcomes were identified by COAG as key to boosting Australia’s participation and productivity, namely:
1.    all children are engaged in and benefiting from schooling;
2.    young people are meeting basic literacy and numeracy standards, and overall levels of literacy and numeracy achievement are improving;
3.    schooling promotes social inclusion and reduces the educational disadvantage of children, especially indigenous children;
4.    Australian students excel by international standards; and
5.    young people make a successful transition from school to work and further study.

The Smarter Schools National Partnerships provide an overarching framework to support reforms in school education. In NSW, they comprise three elements:
1.    Literacy and Numeracy National Partnership
2.    Low SES School Communities National Partnership
3.    Improving Teacher Quality National Partnership (ITQNP).

The National Partnership Agreement on Literacy and Numeracy between the Commonwealth, State and Territory governments was designed to deliver sustained improvements in literacy and numeracy outcomes for all students, especially those who were falling behind.

The priority areas for reform in the Literacy and Numeracy National Partnership were:
•    effective and evidenced-based teaching of literacy and numeracy
•    strong school leadership and whole school engagement with literacy and numeracy
•    monitoring student and school literacy and numeracy performance to identify where support is needed.

An important aspect of the National Partnerships approach was setting specific outcome targets for each state/territory, with significant financial incentives (reward payments) attached to the achievement of these mandated targets. The four mandated NAPLAN measures for the Literacy and Numeracy National Partnership were:  
•    Students at or above the national minimum standard (All students) (Reading/Numeracy)
•    Students above the national minimum standard (All students) (Reading/Numeracy)
•    Mean scale score (All students) (Reading/Numeracy)
•    Students at or above the national minimum standard (Indigenous students) (Reading/Numeracy).

In addition to the NAPLAN measures, NSW also negotiated a set of three local measures for the purpose of reward payments:
•    National Partnership on Literacy and Numeracy assessment
•    Data Analysis Skills Assessment (DASA)
•    Analytical framework to support school improvement in literacy and numeracy.

By 2012, 102 schools in NSW were undertaking literacy programs and 45 were undertaking numeracy programs.

As part of the initiative, each school was expected to conduct a self-evaluation, to select either a literary or a numeracy focus for the school, and then to choose one individual intervention strategy for students experiencing difficulties and one whole school/class program.

The development of an Individual Student Learning Plan was required for students at or below minimum standard, and could also be considered for students experiencing difficulties in reading or numeracy development as a result of a language background other than English, a learning difficulty, limited opportunities to schooling, and students with a disability. The participation of teachers and leaders in the capacity building component of the NPLN was also required.


NSW Smarter Schools National Partnerships Progress and Annual Reports  (CESE Website)

National Partnerships for Low SES Schools, Literacy and Numeracy and Improving Teacher Quality (Australian Government website)