Australia’s national education evidence body

Evidence use in schools and early childhood settings – how do practitioners say they are supported?

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Our national survey has found that schools and early childhood services often have cultures of sharing and discussing evidence, but more support is needed for practitioners to actively change their practice based on evidence.  

The extent to which early childhood education and care (ECEC) and school practitioners use evidence to inform their practice can be influenced by many factors. These include how much support they have within their school or service.

The Australian Education Research Organisation (AERO) recently surveyed more than 1,100 ECEC and school practitioners across Australia to better understand how they are using evidence. As part of this survey, we asked practitioners about how their school or service supports them to use evidence. These ‘organisational supports’ allow and encourage educators to use evidence in their practice in a sustained and meaningful way.

AERO’s survey is the largest single Australian survey to date that has collected information about organisational supports for practitioner evidence use. Respondents were broadly representative of different sectors and types of ECEC services and schools.

Our findings suggest there is often a culture of sharing and discussing evidence within schools and services. For example:

However, fewer practitioners report that their services and schools have structures like coaching in place to support evidence use. Similarly, fewer report that a culture of evidence use is embedded to the point where staff encourage each other to change their practice. For example:

Julie People, AERO Program Director, said: 'Evidence use is not just a matter for individuals, so it's important that we explore supports available within schools and services. These survey findings provide a clear snapshot of practitioners' experiences with specific types of supports. We'll continue to build on these findings through research methods that examine the quality of existing supports, and what would make them more effective'.

Learn more about the different findings specific to early childhood services and schools, including how the findings differ according to the practitioner's role:

These pages also offer a set of reflection questions for education practitioners.

Examining evidence use project

We're examining how evidence is currently used in early childhood education and care (ECEC) and schools.

Initial findings

Our initial survey findings looked at practitioner beliefs, confidence and practices.

More survey findings

This article examines evidence-based teaching strategies and how often Australian teachers are using them.

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