School Success Model

The NSW Department of Education’s new School Success Model replaces Local Schools, Local Decisions. The new model complements other school improvement work currently under way such as the curriculum review reforms and will help ensure that every student, teacher, leader and school improves every year.

The School Success Model delivers greater clarity on school improvement and system responsibility, as well as better guidance on best practice teaching and learning to lift student performance across the NSW public education system.


The Local Schools, Local Decisions reform recognised that school leaders are experts who are best placed to make contextual decisions for their students and communities. While the reforms enabled many schools to address local needs more effectively, it did not lead to improved results across our system.

Research shows we needed to set clear parameters around decision-making as well as expectations for schools and the system. We need to improve the support we offer schools to lift capability, while freeing up time for schools to focus on teaching, learning and leading. We have consulted widely to develop an evidence-based approach to tailor the support schools need to drive student outcomes.

The new model

The School Success Model builds on existing foundations – particularly the School Excellence Framework and the Strategic Improvement Plan. The School Success Model balances stronger support for schools to make evidence-based decisions with clearer responsibilities for performance targets.

The School Success Model delivers:

  • evidence-based guidance on effective practice that improves student outcomes
  • more support for schools that need it the most
  • less administrative burden
  • stronger and clearer responsibilities for schools and the system
  • recognition and the scaling of practice of our most successful schools.

Delivering support where it is needed

The model will use evidence from different aspects of school performance to direct and tailor support to schools more effectively. All schools will have access to evidence-based guidance. Schools where improvement outcomes are more challenging to obtain will receive strengthened support and direction.

Learning from the best

The School Success Model will feature an innovative pilot program commencing in 2021 that seeks to share and scale best practice from the most successful schools across the breadth and depth of the system. More information about these schools and the program will soon be available.

We’re all responsible

The School Success Model is clear that everyone in Education is responsible for improving student outcomes – school leaders, teachers, support staff and the system more broadly.

Our schools are responsible for improving student outcomes and have signed up for ambitious student performance targets. The School Success Model outlines support for schools to achieve their targets, as well as the responsibilities of everyone across our system.

Just as there are targets for schools to achieve, there will be ambitious targets for the system to achieve to reduce administrative burden and ensure it provides evidence-based support, guidance and direction to lift school and student performance.

For example, student attendance is one area where there is room for improvement at both the school and system levels. Attendance is fundamental to ensuring students develop important social connections and maximise learning opportunities.

The department has established a target to increase the proportion of our students attending school more than 90 percent of the time.

A Term 4 2020 pilot to lift attendance rates in nearly 50 schools across the state has yielded early uplifts. Following tailored support in the areas of self-assessment, professional learning and rich data analysis, these schools have seen their attendance rates increase from 84 percent to 87 percent in 7 weeks, equating to an additional 4,670 student learning days.

With the pilot set to continue into Term 1 2021, the ongoing successes from Term 4 2020 will be scaled and shared across the system. That way, even more NSW students will benefit and all schools will be on track to achieving their targets by 2022.

Frequently asked questions

  • The School Success Model commences Day 1 Term 1 2021, with a phased implementation.
  • In 2021, Phase 1 delivers student performance targets, tailored and triaged support for schools that need it the most, a pilot program for high-performing schools, strengthened system guidance, and reduced administrative burden.
  • By the end of Term 1 2021, schools will complete the School Excellence in Action planning process, which will set out their strategic improvement plans for achieving their student performance targets. This process links the school planning process with the School Excellence Framework self-assessment and external validation processes.
  • In 2022, Phase 2 further reduces the school administrative burden by simplifying the school budget, improving system-wide reporting and continuing work to refine data-based tailored support.
  • Phase 3 delivers full implementation based on school performance against all targets by the end of 2022.

  • Principals will continue to make evidence-based decisions, develop strategic improvement plans, as well as lead staff and work with their communities to improve outcomes for students.
  • Principals will have improved guidance and more targeted support to help them achieve their strategic improvement goals.

  • The reform builds on the Premier’s Priority targets in reading and numeracy (top 2 NAPLAN bands) and Aboriginal students attaining the HSC while maintaining cultural identity.
  • From Term 1 2021, additional school targets will be implemented for the HSC, student attendance, and students’ expected growth in reading and numeracy.
  • From 2021, all Year 1 students will be required to undergo a compulsory Phonics Screening Check, and in 2022 a measure and baseline will be established for senior school student pathways. Student wellbeing targets will be baselined in 2021.
  • School targets are set in the context of the performance of schools with statistically similar characteristics.

  • Schools that require significant improvement to meet targets will receive additional support and direction from the department.

  • Ambitious system targets will be developed and implemented for 2021 that recognise the role and importance of system support for schools.
  • Specific system-level targets will be set for the first phase of the reform to reduce administrative burden.

The targets

The School Success Model details a range of ambitious yet reasonable targets, for schools and the system, which build upon the NSW Premier’s Priorities in education and reflect our shared commitment for improvement.

In addition to the targets outlined here, all Year 1 students will be required to undergo a compulsory Phonics Screening Check from 2021. Student wellbeing targets will be baselined in 2021.

Target area Department targets School targets


Increase public school students in top two NAPLAN bands for literacy and numeracy by 15%. (Premier’s Priority 2023)

Individual school targets in place from 2020.

Aboriginal Education

Increase Aboriginal students attaining the HSC while maintaining their cultural identity by 50%.
(Premier’s Priority 2023)

Individual school network targets in place from 2020 (percentage uplift). Individual school student uplift in place that underpins the network target.


Proportion of students’ HSC results in the top two achievement bands from 34.6% (2018) to 35.7% (2022).

Individual school targets in place from 2021.


Public school students attending school at least 90% of the time from 79.4% (2018) to 82% (2022) Primary and 64.5% (2018) to 70% (2022) Secondary.

Individual school targets in place from 2021.

Student growth (equity)

Public school students achieving expected growth in reading and numeracy from 62.3% (2018) to 66.4% (2022).

Individual school targets in place from 2021.


Recent school leavers participating in higher education, training or work from 89.6% (2018) to 91.6% (2022) and 93.6% (2028).

Students continuing to Year 12 from 73.9% (2018)
to 76.7%

A measure will be selected with a baseline established for each high school in 2022, and with targets set for every high school from 2023.

Download the School Success Model

More information

For more information, email
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