Surf Coast Secondary College
A growing school using Edapt's data platform to help implement its student-centred vision.
“The numbers and data is important. But at the core of that is a person.”
Surf Coast Secondary College is an innovative secondary school. Founded in 2012 with just 17 staff, it has grown exponentially and now boasts an enrolment of over 900 students up from approximately 650 just 5 years ago.
We sat down with their principal Erin Wright and assistant principal Andrew Brown to understand how Edapt was unlocking the ability of their teachers to collaborate and bring to life a student-centred vision.
“We didn’t want to be the same old, same old secondary school”
One of the core tenets of Surf Coast SC’s vision is that schooling should be student-centred. From day one, it has been critical to the leadership to empower young people to understand themselves, to feel capable and experience success. This has been supported by intentional design choices in:
- curriculum: “highly differentiated” and providing students with the opportunity to demonstrate learning in diverse ways.
- pedagogy: roughly 70% of students' class time comes in a cross-disciplinary, integrated learning program (FUSE). The large groups of up to 90 students are supported by four mentors that allows for more targeted teaching.
- the design of learning spaces and staff rooms: learning spaces have been intentionally designed to leverage the opportunities that arise from large, cross-disciplinary instruction such as a mix of teaching space and breakout rooms. Staff rooms are arranged to support collaboration amongst staff who teach together.
“The things that underpin how we operate…is our knowledge of the students, student-teacher relationships.”
Before partnering with Edapt, Erin laments that “data was everywhere”. There were a few staff who were highly capable with data and a good overall level of data literacy; however, communicating that data well amongst staff in way that would benefit their understanding of their students was proving too hard.
The outcomes the school wanted to see were simple: teachers that had a deep knowledge of how their students were tracking and could differentiate their teaching appropriately as a result.
Where this happened organically, in a staffroom conversation for instance, the benefits were obvious. But it was proving challenging scaling these moments of sharing information about students, and sharing “massive spreadsheets” was not the answer.
“We could see that Edapt understood teaching and learning...”
At Edapt, we take our responsibility to serve teachers and young people very seriously. We know that a standard analytics dashboard with some educational data thrown is grossly unfit for purpose - that purpose, our purpose, being to make learning visible and empower teachers to truly know their students.
That’s why we always start with understanding the educational imperative of what we’re doing. We were so geeked to hear Erin say that working with us, they “always felt listened to”. We know we will never be as smart as educators about what matters to them - their students’ learning - and so we listen and we spend time in the lab finding opportunities for clever tech to make the data actionable.
It is so pleasing to see that work come to life in great schools like Surf Coast who are so passionate about their staff understanding the whole student and focusing on strengths and opportunities for young people.
Point of need
“Everyone has access to it. It’s point of need, rather than needing a meeting”
Data can sometimes be a dirty word in schools, or perhaps something to be left to the data wonks. One of the drivers for our work is the opportunity to help schools build positive and inclusive data cultures. At Surf Coast “because [Edapt] is so easy, the Year 10 English teachers for example use the system to understand how to group the students”.
Having different entry points for different users of our platform is a critical part of the job of our product team. Just as teachers know differentiated approaches allow students at different levels to experience success, we know differentiating our own product for our amazing teachers is so important.
And while keeping it simple is key, also being able to “really dig deeper” and “drill down” when the need arises is a key enabler for the implementation of the Edapt platform at Surf Coast. At the end, the point of the Edapt platform, says Andrew, is not “about making things easy for teachers, not about minimising reporting time” but actually using the platform to improve how well teachers know their students.
“Sometimes people make their map without actually talking to teachers or students”
One of the key strategies that Erin and Andrew enact at their school is making sure to invest heavily in consultation and working parties early on in the introduction of any new program, and Edapt was no different. Using the early feedback from teachers - who will ultimately be using the product - to make the implementation plan itself is one of the school’s “most successful strategies” because teachers can see that they are being listened to and their suggestions shape how the school moves forward. This ensures Edapt does not become “just another thing” that staff have to do because they have had a voice in how it’s done.
While doing consultation in the early stages may be costly in terms of time, staff really appreciate it and it makes the eventual school wide rollout “more meaningful long term”, because it’s not just leadership who are pushing it, there are also champions at the classroom level who can motivate the use of the product with their peers. This makes the job of implementation so much easier.
- Model product use within the principal class
Erin and Andrew believe it is very helpful for implementation to have a strong understanding of the product at the principal level. This not only allows for the principal class to have more concrete conversations about the product with their staff, but it also establishes a common understanding of what Edapt does and where it can help.
- Training and ongoing support
Consultation and a strong understanding of the product at the principal class allowed Surf Coast SC to adopt a training model that many of our schools favour: Edapt runs an external training for leadership and leadership runs subsequent training and up-skilling for their staff.
While we are happy to run training for a whole staff body ourselves, often having leadership and Edapt champions own that part of the process internally helps build trust and allows for the co-creation of norms around how the product is used.
How it's used
“Because we have that foundation of collaboration and collective efficacy of our work, when we wanted to use the data in our PLC cycles, it is used quite strongly and regularly”
Many of our Victorian government partner schools view Professional Learning Community structures as a natural opportunity for staff to use Edapt to inform their work. However, for Erin and Andrew it’s not about just restricting the use of data to a weekly meeting. There are always points throughout the week where staff see an opportunity to understand the learning of their students more deeply, and so “that work continues and staff are always looking at that information about their students”.
Annual Implementation Plan goals
Outside of the regular, ongoing PLC work, Surf Coast uses Edapt to support targeted PLC work that works towards AIP goals such as improving VCE results and further improving an already strong culture of inclusion at the school.
New classes or timetable changes
Additionally, changes in timetabled classes or the introduction of new students are a natural place for Surf Coast staff to use the Edapt platform to quickly determine, at a glance, students who might need literacy support or those who might need to be extended. This reduces the lag time that teachers often see in their classes between the start of a class and the 5-6 weeks it might take to deliver, mark and review the first assessment.
Planning collaboratively for FUSE classes
FUSE is Surf Coast SC's cross-disciplinary program that is led by four mentors working with a group of perhaps 90 students across English, Maths, Science and Humanities. To deliver such a program well, "collaboration is very important". Edapt's platform is a central resource that teachers who plan together can reference when considering differentiated opportunities for the students. The ethos of collaboration at the school is one of the strongest we've seen : as Erin puts it, "there isn’t a single teacher in this school that works in isolation. It’s, it’s almost impossible to do that.”