The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) undertook a project in 2013-14 to develop a national data standards strategy and implementation plan to enhance the comparability, quality and coherence of information across the education and training sectors, including early childhood education, school education, vocational education and training (VET) and higher education. The project was divided into 3 phases.

Phase 1: Establishment of scope

Phase 1 primarily involved defining the scope of the project, including the data collections and data items in scope of the national data standards strategy. This phase also involved a review of the preliminary work that formed the basis of the project and the development of a strategy to guide consultation and communication with stakeholders.

Phase 2: Review of data collections

Phase 2 involved an extensive data mapping exercise to review the consistency and alignment of data items with existing national data standards and to identify data gaps.

Questionnaires were developed and circulated to data custodians and other stakeholders to collect detailed information on reporting outputs, existing plans for data standards improvements, revisions to enhance comparability in data standards, and opportunities for improvements based on data collection cycles and data linkage capability.

These processes informed broad recommendations and the identification of priorities (including priority data items) for the national data standards strategy.

Phase 3: Development of the national data standards strategy

Phase 3 involved developing the national data standards strategy and implementation plan. This was informed by the priorities identified in Phase 2 of the project and the collection and synthesis of extra information. This phase also included preparing a project report to document the process and background information used to inform the strategy and implementation plan (this report).

Project finalisation

The national data standards strategy and implementation plan were provided to the Data Strategy Group (DSG) in 2014 for consideration as part of the DSG forward work program.

The strategy provided a vision and goal for education and training data, and priority areas to achieve these.

The implementation plan outlined specific projects and resources in each priority area. It identified opportunities for improvements to national standards in the short, medium and long term, taking into consideration the potential benefits to be gained and relevance to policy priorities, the level of work needed to implement changes, and the level of priority assigned by data custodians and stakeholders.