Considerations for applicants

The following information has been provided in response to questions received about the Ambassador Schools Program – NSW Research Centre grant. If you are unable to find the answer to your question, please contact: AmbassadorSchools@det.nsw.edu.au

Will the scheme pay for the indirect research costs that all universities levy?

Direct costs associated with the research program and the Research Centre should be included in the project budget, to be funded by grant money. Indirect costs of research (sometimes referred to as administrative overheads) should not be included in the project budget and are expected to be in-kind contributions by the administering organisation. These can be included as a separate table in the application form.

Is there an expectation of an annual cash contribution from the consortium?

Although a cash contribution is not mandatory, cash and in-kind contributions will be assessed as part of the applicant's value proposition. Cash and in-kind contributions should be set out in part 4 of the application form.

Where should consortium cash be included in the Budget section of the application?

In preparing the budget for a consortium, some consortium members may provide cash for such things as postdocs and a PhD scholarship. To cater for this, please add lines as required in section 4 ‘Research Centre Budget’, Mark as Cash or In-Kind, and make a note in the ‘Notes/explanation’ column.

How should I include many team members in the budget section?

If your consortium consists of many team members, please provide an appendix to your application document listing each team member. This will not be included in the application count of 8 pages.

Are there any limitations on the number of applications that can come from each institution? Can universities be named on more than one application?

Given the scale of the grant and the centre, we would strongly advise universities to submit only one considered and strategic application where they are the Lead University, developed in consultation with their institution's senior leadership. Universities may be named on other applications as part of the consortia. University researchers may be named on several applications.

The Council of Deans of Education aims to work collaboratively. Can an application be submitted on behalf of the Deans?

There must be a lead university nominated on the application form that coordinates this process.

In terms of DVCR "Deputy Vice-Chancellor-Research" endorsement, is it a letter or a signature?

As indicated on the application form, a letter of endorsement is required from the lead University and should be signed by either or both the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and the Head of School.

When the Ambassador Schools are selected, is it made clear to them that they will be part of a research program?

Yes. Ambassador Schools are told that they will be active partners in the research program. In additional to contributing to evidence-based research across the school system, the opportunity to work with academic research partners will support them to deepen their understanding on what they are already doing in their school that is having an impact, and therefore where they can further focus their efforts.

Will Ambassador Schools receive funding and/or other support (eg teacher release) to be part of the collaborative research?

Ambassador Schools will receive teacher release time to participate in the research. They will also receive administrative, policy and media/communications support from the Department to participate in the program.

What is the timeline for announcement of the remaining Ambassador Schools? What is the total number of Ambassador Schools?

There will be 10 schools in total announced by the end of 2021. Three schools were announced earlier this year. The next seven schools will be announced throughout Terms 3 and 4. As the program evolves, further decisions will be made regarding the selection of additional Ambassador Schools.

Which schools have been invited to be Ambassador Schools? 

Three schools have been selected for recognition so far in 2021: Fairvale High School, Millthorpe Public School and Auburn North Public School. We expect to announce the remaining 2021 school in Terms 3 and 4.

How are Ambassador Schools selected?  

Schools in the 2021 program have been selected based on performance compared to similar schools based on a range of measures. These include performance against school targets in reading and numeracy, attendance, growth, and HSC performance.

Where does the Research Centre sit within the Department of Education? Is there a director?

The NSW Research Centre is not a physical centre. It sits inside the Teaching Quality & Impact (TQI) directorate. Stacey Quince is the Executive Director of TQI. Other areas of the Department will provide support as required. There will be a dedicated team on this program.

Are there any long-term plans for the Centre? Or will this be strictly a one-off, 3-year project?

At this stage, the Department has a three-year commitment to the Research Centre. If the Research Centre has strong impact and proves to be a successful model for translating highly effective practice across schools, and extension beyond three years may be considered. Any additional long-term plans will be assessed throughout the course of this period.

Will the focus of the Research Centre be limited by those practices that the selected schools (or at least some of them) excel in? Or can we focus on practices that may not be fully evident in these schools but are evidence-based?

The research program must focus on effective practices found in the selected Ambassador Schools. In Stage 1, there is no scope for practices that may be effective but are not found in the initial 10 schools. There may be scope beyond Stage 1 for additional schools to participate in the program that demonstrate new effective practices that contribute to the evidence-base. 

Is there potential for some selected schools to be excelling in some areas (eg literacy and numeracy) but not in others (eg student wellbeing)? If this is the case, can we pick out a specific practice from one or two schools and another from other schools?

Yes, it is likely that schools will perform more strongly in one or more areas over others. However, Ambassador Schools have demonstrated strong achievement compared to contextually similar schools across a range of indicators. The research program should focus on commonalities of practice but can also focus on specific practices in schools.

Could you provide a little more detail on how you envisage the Centre? Is there a model for this that has inspired your thinking such as your own CESE, or the NCSEHE hosted by Curtin? What value is the DET seeking from a Centre as opposed to a funded program of research?

The value the Department seeks from a Research Centre comes from the innovation of a centre with a multidisciplinary research program. The Research Centre will be able to provide research programs based on Department priorities, which may evolve over time. The Department sees the NCESHE as a good example of a similar model.

How would the Centre branding work?

The Department will host the Research Centre, with co-branding from all the participants in the consortia.

What is the demarcation between Metro & Rural (Regional)? Where does the Indigenous element fit within these two categories or are they supposed to be consumed within it?

There are criteria used by NSW Department of Education to identify location-type, such as inner-regional outer-regional and metropolitan. These categories help inform our understanding of school context.

The Department is consistently focused on achievement, attainment and progress of all Aboriginal students in NSW schools. Different school contexts may be taken into consideration in relation to Aboriginal students and communities, which would ultimately be built into the research and evidence-base.

What are the guidelines for font size and formatting?

Preferred font is Arial 12pt, with standard formatting and margins. 

Where should we indicate additional researchers who may be involved beyond the core team?

Please include additional researchers in an appendix and mark them as such. CVs for these additional researchers can also be provided in the appendix.

How will the Research Centre Board align with the existing governance of the Ambassador Schools Program?

The Research Centre Board will be established in consultation with the successful applicant. The Research Board will include principals from the Ambassador schools, university partners, and chaired by a senior Departmental officer. The Research Centre Board will report into the Ambassador Schools Steering Committee. The Ambassador Schools Steering Committee reports into the School Improvement Sub-Executive.

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