Thursday, 11 April 2019 23:56

SA Department of Education deploys Microsoft cloud, Power BI for ‘school improvement’ planning

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SA Department of Education deploys Microsoft cloud, Power BI for ‘school improvement’ planning Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The South Australia Department for Education has developed a new initiative, titled the "School Improvement Dashboard", that has been rolled out to all 512 South Australian Government schools to facilitate school improvement planning.

The dashboard is a customised business intelligence platform, developed using Microsoft Power BI and delivered via the Azure cloud, which the department says provides the insights needed to help school leaders create a world-class education system.

The Department says the School Improvement Plan encourages each of the 512 government schools to identify priority areas for attention and then establish a school improvement planning cycle that promotes continuous improvement.

School improvement has always been a priority for the State – but when annual school report plans were reviewed it was clear that some schools made exceptional advances, others were slower to improve.

Microsoft says that with this initiative South Australia is injecting more structure and rigour into the process. Core to that is data – providing insights to school leaders at a very granular level about student achievement and growth, student wellbeing and organisational health.

To make that information accessible, but ensure it remains secure and well protected, the Department has developed the school improvement dashboard – a customised business intelligence platform developed using Microsoft Power BI and delivered via the Azure cloud which provides the insights needed to help school leaders create a world-class education system across the State.

James McNeill is the manager of business intelligence solutions and services for the Department, and has overseen the development and deployment of the dashboard which went live State-wide in September 2018.

Every government school in South Australia will put their new school improvement plans into place starting 2019.

Microsoft says early testing of the Power BI solution, undertaken with a dozen school principals, revealed just how intuitive it is, requiring little to no formal training – "an important consideration for a State education system with schools widely dispersed from the Anangu lands right down to Mount Gambier and everywhere in between".

And according to Microsoft, a couple of three-minute explanatory videos on YouTube were enough to get school leaders up and running and primed for school improvement planning.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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