2021-2024 Strategic Plan

Our Strategic Plan outlines how we will work towards our vision for Australia to achieve excellence and equity in educational outcomes for all children and young people through effective use of evidence.
Children playing in courtyard

2021-24 Strategic Plan

Chair's foreword

The Alice Springs (Mparntwe) Declaration sets out Australia’s vision for an excellent and equitable education system, where all children and young people become confident and creative individuals, successful lifelong learners and active and informed members of the community.

These are – rightfully – ambitious goals.

Australia’s early childhood education and care (ECEC) services and schools are working hard towards these goals and many are achieving impressive results. Yet as a nation, we face some considerable challenges.

Evidence offers us a pathway through challenges that have constrained our nation’s educational improvements over recent decades.

The Australian Education Research Organisation (AERO) has been created to bring high-quality research evidence to education practitioners and policymakers and to foster its effective use, so that children and young people can achieve the best possible outcomes.

To achieve this purpose AERO must actively engage with the education community. We must listen to learners themselves, to practitioners and to policymakers and then prioritise work in those areas most relevant to their needs.

We will also leverage the wealth of existing research expertise across Australia and internationally, to fill gaps in our knowledge base that impede our progress.

In addition we must curate, present and disseminate high-quality evidence, both our own and that generated by others, in such a way as to engage the diverse audiences in Australian education.

And finally we must work with early childhood services, schools, systems and sectors to continuously improve our understanding of one of the greatest knowledge gaps of all – how best to support effective evidence use in education settings to improve children’s learning.

AERO is a vital addition to the national education landscape. My fellow Board Directors and I are proud to present AERO’s first Strategic Plan and look forward to assisting the organisation to have a lasting, positive impact on education in Australia.

Dr Lisa O'Brien, Chair

CEO's message

The education of Australian children and young people should be informed by the best evidence. But great evidence will only lead to better learning if practitioners and policymakers are able to use that evidence in their work. AERO will tackle both tasks: we will generate, identify and present high-quality evidence to education professionals and we will shine a light on the conditions necessary to support the adoption and effective implementation of that evidence in practice and policy.

The benefits of greater use of evidence affect all parts of education. To teachers, early childhood educators, school and service leaders, education officials and policymakers, evidence offers confidence in the choices and progress they are making. Evidence can enhance their sense of professionalism, as well as the wider community’s understanding of, and respect for, the complex, highly skilled work they do. The ultimate benefit of evidence-based practice is the improved knowledge and skills of our learners.

In this strategic plan, we set out how AERO will take its first steps in contributing to the national project of improving the educational achievement of our children and young people. Whatever role you play in our dynamic education system, I invite you to join us in this work. 

Dr Jenny Donovan, CEO

Our objectives

AERO’s vision is for Australia to achieve excellence and equity in educational outcomes for all children and young people through effective use of evidence. In support of this vision, we:

  • generate high-quality evidence
  • present high-quality evidence that is relevant and accessible
  • encourage adoption and effective implementation of evidence in practice and policy. 

AERO's theory of change 

Our vision

Australia achieves excellent and equitable education outcomes for all children and young people. 

Key outcomes

  • Practitioners and policymakers regularly access high-quality evidence to inform their decisions.
  • Practitioners and policymakers are motivated, confident and effectively supported to use evidence in their work.
  • Practitioners and policymakers adopt and effectively implement evidence-based strategies. 

Key actions

Our approach

Our work

Publish an annual Research Agenda

AERO publishes an annual Research Agenda, listing the key areas of research on which we will work. Areas of research are prioritised for the Research Agenda using demand-led and evidence-led criteria.

AERO determines demand via online mechanisms, through which practitioners are invited to submit their needs on an ongoing basis, and by liaising with representative and professional associations and with the leadership of systems, sectors and peak organisations.

AERO determines the areas of research that the existing evidence base suggests would most improve excellence and equity via our ongoing monitoring of emerging data and research, liaison with other education researchers, and in consultation with our expert Research Committee. AERO considers the scalability of potential solutions within Australian education as a factor in determining their likely impact.

The Research Agenda is developed with AERO’s independent Board and approved by Education Ministers.

Generate high-quality evidence

Present high-quality evidence that is relevant and accessible

Encourage the adoption and effective implementation of evidence in practice and policy

Monitoring our impact

Monitoring our outputs

  • By 2024, AERO will have generated new evidence on high priority challenges in Australian education. We will measure and report on the quantity of evidence generated, the rigour of the methodologies used and stakeholder perceptions of the relevance of the topics addressed.
  • By 2024, AERO will have created and populated a well-organised online platform with engaging, actionable resources that are valued by practitioners and policymakers. We will measure and report on the quantity of content made available, stakeholder perceptions of its relevance and accessibility, and the observed level of success in using AERO’s resources to implement evidence-based changes.
  • By 2024, AERO will have taken a baseline measurement of the state of evidence use and expanded the evidence base on the strategies needed to support greater evidence use in Australian education. We will measure and report on attitudes towards evidence use, the clarity of understanding among senior education leaders of the state of evidence use in their services, systems and sectors, and of the strategies needed to support evidence use in practice and policy.

Monitoring our outcomes

AERO will begin measuring and reporting on progress towards its outcomes and vision during the period covered by this Strategic Plan, while recognising that they will take time to achieve.

AERO will measure and report on:

  • the quantity and quality of engagement with AERO’s publications and resources online
  • practitioner and policymaker perceptions of the support available to them to adopt and effectively implement evidence in their work
  • the change in frequency of evidence-based practices following selected practice-focused projects
  • the reach and fidelity of policy change following selected policy-focused projects.

Monitoring progress towards our vision

AERO will measure and report on:

  • the change in children and young people’s learning outcomes observed in our research projects
  • the change in children and young people’s learning outcomes at selected sites where strategies recommended by AERO are adopted and effectively implemented.