A contemporary learning strategy to improve operational effectiveness in NSW schools

A contemporary learning strategy to improve operational effectiveness in NSW schools

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EDConnect, the shared services directorate for the NSW Department of Education, provides support, advice and resources to education staff at over 2,200 public schools in NSW.

EDConnect sought a learning strategy for operational school staff

EDConnect wanted to support schools to achieve operational excellence, critical to which was school operational staff’s capability. Traditional learning methods were costly, time- and geography-limited, and not achieving the desired impact. EDConnect engaged Nous to design a more effective learning experience to enable staff to deliver quality support to schools, improve operational performance, and unlock principals’ and teaching staff’s time so that they could focus more on student education.

Nous conducted virtual consultation amid school closures

This project required deep engagement with schools, so the closure of schools due to COVID-19 prompted Nous and EDConnect to pivot to conduct virtual consultations across the state, acknowledging the uncertain terrain school staff were navigating as they rapidly transitioned to learning from home. Our approach included:

  • conducting virtual consultations with school staff, including one-on-one interviews and targeted focus groups divided by school size and location (remote, regional or metropolitan) to understand the barriers and enablers of learning for operational staff within the school environment
  • holding one-on-one interviews with EDConnect leaders
  • leading focus groups for EDConnect support teams by function (such as human resources enquiries)
  • analysing EDConnect’s operational data to better understand the demand for support (such as compliance, enquiry, feedback and call centre datasets).

This work gave us a rich understanding of the day-to-day life of school operational staff and their learning needs, motivations, and environment; which we overlaid with EDConnect’s insights on their knowledge and performance gaps and help-seeking patterns. This in turn enabled us to design a contemporary, learner-shaped learning ecosystem, brought to life through differentiated learning pathways based on the purpose and time-horizon of each staff member’s learning needs.

Hear more about this project from Nous Principal Christie Allison:

New learning ecosystem improves principal, teacher and student experiences

The new strategy moves from traditional learning – which was limited by access, reach, cost and impact – to a leading practice model that supports continuous learning at work to better contribute to schools’ operational excellence. The strategy includes a roadmap with recommendations for targeted actions EDConnect can take to shape and implement the new learning ecosystem.

Ultimately, Nous helped EDConnect better understand the needs of an important customer base and the knock-on effects of customer experiences on principals, teachers, students and their parents and carers. As EDConnect delivers on the learning strategy it is achieving “tangible uplift in capabilities in our over 2,200 NSW public schools and overall improvements in school operations,” as the Director of Customer Experience and EDConnect explained.

What you can learn from EDConnect

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to learning: deeply understanding the learner enables designing a bespoke learning strategy that supports business strategy and priorities.

Virtual consultation can replace in-person consultation when designed and delivered with intent.

Customer experience can have knock-on effects on other important stakeholders by broadening understanding and creating insight.