An independent evaluation of the Connected Communities strategy is being undertaken by the Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation, and the final report will be available in 2018.
An interim evaluation report outlining early implementation, challenges to date and progress against achieving the key deliverables was released in February 2016. This report reviewed the first 15 months of implementation and was informed by the analysis of student outcome data and consultation with parents, community members and other key stakeholders across the 15 schools.
While it is recognised that this is a long-term strategy in some of the most disadvantaged communities in NSW, the report indicates that there are already some early results from the above actions:
- There is a greater focus on Aboriginal language and culture in the schools, which enhanced students’ identity and wellbeing.
- All primary schools have introduced programs to increase Kindergarten enrolments and support young children to transition to school
- All 15 schools have established Local School Reference Groups, led by the AECG Chair and comprising community, parent and school representatives
- Partnerships have been established with local health services to ensure every student has a health and dental check.
- All secondary schools run programs to encourage further learning or pathways to employment programs.
- Extensive capital works programs have resulted in physical improvements to schools, which reflect 21st Century teaching and learning.
The report also identified that:
- the provision of counselling services to schools needed improvement;
- the role of Local School Reference Groups required updating;
- the scope of the service hub model could benefit from being broadened and
- consolidating the role of government departments was required to enhance a more comprehensive place-based interagency response.
These recommendations have been carried out with others, such as working with local agencies to increase the reach of the service hub model, being of an ongoing nature.