Surfers Paradise State School Case Study


Surfers Paradise State School is committed to delivering a high quality education to all students. We maintain high expectations of all students and work together to support each one to achieve success. We are a Gold Coast school, situated on the Isle of Capri. Our proud history of educating primary-aged students commenced in Laycock Street, three blocks south of Cavill Avenue, in 1934 and continues at the current site established in 1976.

Today, we educate 630 students across 26 classes from Prep to Year 6 and enjoy a richly multicultural community. With 358 students speaking a language other than English at home and 39% of students for whom English is an Additional Language / Dialect, Surfers Paradise State School welcomes a very diverse school population.

Why was improvement needed? Reading continues to be the core of Surfers Paradise State School’s Improvement Agenda. Analysis of our data suggests that although many students exceed current reading benchmarks, there remain a percentage of students who do not.

Data was traditionally analysed through spreadsheets informing decision-making with regard to pedagogy, programming and intervention. Although, Surfers Paradise State School has celebrated significant growth in annual NAPLAN data there is still more that we can do to ensure one year growth for one year schooling for ALL students. By being a part of the Leading Learning Collaborative, Surfers Paradise State School committed to the non-negotiable Parameter 6. This gave the leverage to begin the process of “Putting Faces on the Data”.



As mentioned the data was traditionally presented in an Excel format which didn’t allow for teachers to truly see the IMPACT of the data... SO, the process began to co-construct a school data wall allowing us to see ALL the FACES.

The impact of this work at this early stage, is not so much about a decrease in students not reaching benchmark but more about awareness, rich and robust conversations, and future planning to inquire about the data and identify our next steps in teaching. From these conversations, our collective data literacy has increased exponentially and the introduction of case management meetings and a cycle of inquiry into intervention has commenced. Data walls formed part of the beginning of school year planning and teachers will scan and assess the students they will be teaching, as well as other students across the school. Our conversations will continue to build the shared responsibility and accountability for every student. This case study is really a “watch this space!”

The focus of the improvement is for all of our students to be literate. By putting the Faces on the Data, the school teams are able to see visually how our students are doing as a cohort. The data wall has given us the driver to interrogate the data further and see exactly what strengths and deficits our students have in their reading. Additionally, identifying our sub-groups (Indigenous, Students with a Disability, Out of Home Care and EAL/D) has made it possible to drill down further and create precision in our work for all students. We have also identified which students have received Tier 2 and 3 intervention and the impact this has had on their reading levels.

We are now in the scan and assess phase of an inquiry cycle to see if our intervention is having an effect on student achievement. As part of this stage of our inquiry, our team ponders, is HOW we teach reading right for our kids?


How did we get started? The process began by co-constructing a data wall with one year level. The group was initially apprehensive to make their students data visible as they couldn’t see the purpose of this. The Deputy Principal began by building the team’s understanding of Parameter 6 and the purpose and benefits of “Putting Faces on the Data”.

The information to be recorded on the data cards was chosen collaboratively with teachers and school leaders. The data cards for the students were created for the teachers so they could focus on the co-construction of the data wall and, later, the initial analysis of that data. Once the wall had been constructed, the team reflections were nothing but positive about the process, the information and discussions it brought about. A whole staff Professional Development was then delivered allowing the initial team to provide valuable positive feedback to those who may have been resistant. The process then moved to additional year levels with the construction of further data walls.

What has been the impact so far? The impact of this work, still in its infancy, extends to teachers and our leadership. Teachers are now engaged in robust data conversations and focus on collaborating to really understand the cohort of children they work with. This is a shift from solely concentrating on their own class. Through the use of the data wall, teachers are now using this data and the Literacy Continuum to set goals for their students rather than just focussing on running record levels.

The other outcome is that the data is visual and this has provided the impetus for the Surfers Paradise Leadership Team to launch an inquiry into intervention and whether the teaching of reading is precise enough for our students. An inquiry cycle is currently being undertaken and will encompass the teaching of reading, literacy blocks and intervention at Surfers Paradise State School.

What leadership lessons are we learning?


As leaders, we now have a clear vision as to the purpose of our actions as well as frameworks to guide us in reflection. We understand that building and strengthening positive relationships encourages rigorous professional dialogue and purposeful feedback that are vehicles for successful change. By means of observational evidence, listening, strategic questioning, constructive feedback and goal setting our staff become better reflective practitioners.

Judith Glaser sees the interdependence of relationships, culture and conversations when she states; “To get to the next level of greatness depends on the quality of the culture, which depends on the quality of the relationship, which depends on the quality of the conversation. Everything happens through conversations.” (Conversational Intelligence ® 2014)

At Surfers Paradise State School our Collegial Engagement is aligned to our Explicit Improvement Agenda (EIA). We are striving to build a school- wide, collaborative team based on agreed procedures, professional trust and mutual respect.

We foster commitment to and stand by the non-negotiable that all students become literate by the time they leave primary school. As leaders, we:

  • have learnt the importance of making decisions using relevant data to improve learning for all,

  • ensure we participate in the same professional development as the teachers, as well as ensuring our support staff are also included,

  • celebrate the success of our Professional Learning Communities and the establishment of learning spaces for collaboration and acknowledge these structures as being fundamental to the success of the data walls,

recognise continued collaboration with our Knowledgeable Others (KOs) will ensure our Cycle of Inquiry findings are honest, accurate and keep students at the centre. Overall, the whole process of the co-construction of data walls was a positive one that has the potential to truly become the catalyst for student improvement.

Principal: De Parker

Sharratt, L. (2019). CLARITY: What matters MOST in Learning, Teaching and Leading. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin


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