Results of the recent Stronger Smarter Institute Census show that Stronger Smarter alumni have an outstanding level of ongoing commitment to transforming Indigenous educational outcomes.   

Stronger Smarter Institute, CEO, Dr John Davis said, “The results from alumni this year show the Stronger Smarter way of doing things becomes embedded into classroom practice.  The teachers who attend our programs show a real change when it comes to that structural racist thinking that still exists across many of our systems and institutions.   We are seeing a ‘flipping of thinking’ to look at strengths and possibilities and a shift away from that language of deficit. Our alumni tell us that after attending our programs they are changing both their leadership styles and the way they teach.”

Almost everyone who replied to the Stronger Smarter Census said their Stronger Smarter training had resulted in some level of impact on their leadership, teaching or workplace practice.  Over 75 percent described this as ‘considerable impact’ or ‘embedded’.  

The recently released Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage Key Indicators 2020 Report recognises teacher quality and student engagement as key contributors to improving outcomes for Indigenous education.   

Dr Davis says, “In the Institute, we describe ‘quality’ as teacher efficacy and everyone taking ‘responsibility for change’.  We challenge teachers to ‘be the change you want to see.’ Our Alumni really do take this on board.”

The OID report describes how an inclusive learning environment leads to student engagement. Much of this is about the relationship the student has with their teacher. 

Dr Davis says, “When we talk about ‘the gap’ in Indigenous education, the gap isn’t of our people, it’s the structures – our teaching, our pedagogy, our curriculum. This is about our educators valuing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and delivering a positive and safe environment for our Jarjums (children). So, there are ways forward.  The Stronger Smarter training shows it is possible to make these changes.”

Over 90 percent of Census respondents had made some changes to the way they teach with over 75 percent saying they had changed the way they teach on an ongoing basis.  This includes adapting the curriculum to be more culturally responsive.

Dr Davis explains that as staff build high-expectations relationships with their students, there is a greater bond of trust.  The Stronger Smarter Census results show that when educators are enacting the Stronger Smarter Approach, there is a change in school culture which means students are happier at school. 

Dr Davis says, “It’s a school culture that is about wellbeing with high expectations for both staff and Jarjums.  When Jarjums know they have staff they can talk to, they feel safe to ‘have a go’.   It’s this sense of belonging in school that is so important. Our alumni tell us that as the school culture changes, they see improvements in student engagement and school attendance.  When you have that positive school culture in place, it paves the way for a culture of learning.  So, for our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Jarjums, we are changing the pathways of opportunity.”

This is the third Census survey run by the Institute.  The Census is run every two years.  It is one of the Institute’s checks and balances to ensure the quality of our programs

The 826 survey responses represent 25% of survey recipients.  The survey is sent to all alumni from the Institute’s flagship program, the Stronger Smarter Leadership Program.  These alumni include community and school leaders, teachers, Aboriginal education workers, and support staff from schools across the country.

Nearly 50% of those who responded undertook the Stronger Smarter program four or more years ago.  This includes responses from alumni who attended the very first programs in 2006. 

Further results from the Census will be released in early 2021.

Further information

Stronger Smarter Census 2020 –  Initial insights

Dr John Davis on The Drum, ABC – 17 December 2020.

For more information contact the Stronger Smarter Institute at