In October 2019, Teacher Advisory Council members Ali Pressel and Kyle Tredinnick hosted a breakout session titled “StoryMaps: Building a GeoHabit” at National Geographic’s Education Summit. ArcGIS StoryMaps is a system that allows users to tell digital stories with text, interactive maps, imagery, and more. The two high school teachers value this skillset and geographic information systems (GIS) in the classroom as they prepare students to see the world beyond maps.
In honor of GIS Day, a celebration of the technology in the field, Ali and Kyle sat down with the National Geographic Society’s Education staff to talk about their journey with geography.
Ali and Kyle didn’t intend to teach GIS, but it quickly became the main focus.
While staff costs drive upwards of 75 percent of a school budget, your student enrolment numbers drive just about 100 percent of everything in the budget.
In 2016/17 the average total recurrent income per full time equivalent independent school student across Australia exceeded $20,000.  With a national average enrolment of 525 students per school, a margin of error of just one percent in projected enrolments translates to $100,000 per year – again on average across Australia.  While the average measure has limitations, here it is used to convey context – enrolment projections, if not accurate, carry a big risk.
What priority is given by the school governors to projected enrolments? What are the objective and subjective drivers of enrolment projections? What is the balance between those objective and subjective levers? 
Perhaps, as with most things in life, there are no easy answers or solutions. How do we mitigate this risk?
Data from developers and local or state governments might be available. It generally has built in and substantial growth bias. After all, who wants to be last on the league table? The census data is at best, almost two years old when made available and can quickly become dated in areas of rapid population growth. See below for the development of the township of Googong (near Canberra) via the Google Earth timeline feature. How would you accurately forecast enrolments for a 2015 school start-up?
The traditional ‘rule of thumb’ approach allows you to ramp up year level occupancy percentages over time, retaining all students as they transition to the next year level, year upon year, until 100 percent occupancy is achieved across the school. This approach requires many assumptions – are the numbers of potential students there; does their age profile match what we need; what will be the enrolment churn rate – and hopefully, with luck, you might get some of these assumptions right.
While this data appears objective, (it is numbers after all), there are many underlying subjective views from developers or local governments, and decisions that potentially degrade its accuracy and more importantly, erode the confidence that can be placed in the data.
Can we overlay these approaches with some science? Of course, we can – the science of math and statistics.
Age profiles of school catchments are based on census data. Annual statistical updating of this core data-set will add objectivity – add certainty – through improved understanding of population growth (or lack of it) in the catchment. This can be driven by actual awareness of student enrolment data for the small SA1 spatial areas in Australia or using tools such as Google Earth Pro to review development ‘on the ground’ and adjust underlying population data accordingly.
Can the updated census data be further refined? Yes, an analysis of school sector enrolments (Independent, Catholic and Government sectors) provides per capita enrolment benchmarks, providing an objective means to define market-share assumptions.
Enrolment projections developed in this manner can be added to other scenarios already prepared by schools to provide a series of projections that can be risk assessed and rated – from low to high risk and likelihood.
How do you prepare enrolment projections for greenfield sites; for catchments with stagnating numbers of school aged children; where your changes in enrolment numbers have drivers that require some discernment via an analysis of market share changes or annual student churn?
Realistically it cannot be left to chance. A school should seek the most objective view – one where the science of statistical math is mixed with the art of common sense, industry knowledge and local awareness – to produce the most relevant and the most meaningful enrolment projections. The alternatives can be anything from a guess, perhaps sometimes a lucky guess, a reverse-engineered solution to answer the question or just hope, backed by prayer. It does not have to be this way.
At EducationGeographics we already assist several client schools (and their leaders and governors) that are grappling with the business risks of getting enrolment projections reasonable and relevant, eliminating chance as much as possible, and getting the correct balance between the science and the art of their student enrolment projections.
Written by: Director – Education Geographics (Dashboard Design)
 See Independent Schools Council of Australia (ISCA) website (School Funding and School Statistics) <https://isca.edu.au/>.
 See ISCA website (School Statistics)
 See John Somerset, Defining a Financially Sustainable Independent School in Australia, Independent Schools Queensland (Research Paper, October 2018). Governors of schools have a statutory and/or fiduciary responsibility to ensure the financial viability and sustainability of their schools (Corporations Act 2001 (Cth), Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Act 2012 (Cth)). There is also a responsibility under the conditions of Commonwealth Government recurrent funding legislation to ensure financial viability and sustainability. Enrolment projection data is a core issue for School accreditation and the regular review of accreditation compliance, and for BGA capital assistance grants.
Every ANZAC Day I sit down with my kids and explain to them what their Great Grandfather did in the first World War. Some of it sinks in and that’s all you can ask, really. I’m lucky this ANZAC Day in that last September The Australian published a piece from me about my Pop and Nan and Pop’s small role in the history of the first war in the trenches of Western Europe. Thanks are owed here to The Australian, for its kind permission to run the story in this link, to Angus and Robertson, for publishing the original trench edition of Ginger Mick, to Neil James of the Plain English Foundation for returning Pop’s copy to our family, to Stan Grant and the ABC show Matter of Fact, for running the initial piece on the book, and of course, to my Pop and Nan, for having my Mum and for being the best grandparents a little bloke could ever wish for.
by Jeffrey Peters – serves as director of business development for Esri, playing a key role in strategic planning and corporate leadership.
The Reverend Kammy Young has seen the empty pews at Sunday morning service. She has read the surveys that show membership in decline. Once-thriving congregations now depend on part-time volunteers to keep their doors open. At a time when the relevancy of religion is in question, she feels a sense of urgency for churches to connect more deeply with their communities.
The challenges faced by Young and the Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast are not unique within the Episcopal Church. In fact, they’re not unique to the Episcopal denomination. During the past decade, the percentage of US adults who say they regularly attend religious services has been declining across every denomination and nearly every religion. The central question is how religious institutions might reverse that trend.
Article snapshot: Faith-based organizations facing declining attendance are hoping to reinvent themselves and engage unreached populations with help from technology traditionally used by businesses to find and retain customers.
Young and many of her Episcopal peers have begun to believe that if they develop a deeper understanding of the communities around their churches, they will be able to connect in new ways with the people who live and work there. With that goal in mind, they’re moving to embrace innovative techniques pioneered by businesses around the world.
In the age of digital transformation, the Episcopal Church is using science to find the faithful.
The Old Ways Don’t Work Well Anymore
The old way of operating simply isn’t working anymore, Young says. “We’re no longer an established church that can just sit back, put our sign out front, and wait for people to walk in the door. We need to be engaged in our communities in significant ways in order to connect with people.”
The Reverend Tom Brackett, denominational manager of planting and redevelopment for the Episcopal Church, agrees. Part of the church’s decline, he says, may stem from complacency with the status quo.
Technically a map is defined as a diagrammatic representation of an area of land or sea showing physical features, cities, roads, etc. As soon as we view a map, we inherently start turning it into information by analyzing its contents and finding patterns, assessing trends, and making decisions about what we are seeing.
Creating apps and software that use map information is nothing new. Platform choices to build on range from Google Maps, native Apple maps, TomTom maps, Mapbox, and many others. What separates each platform apart from one another is their ability to display different times of information over the map. You know – markers, areas of crime, speed traps, routes, etc.
Recently, Esri announced its new developer program which enables app developers to create interactive, world-changing maps that are easy to interpret. Using Esri’s new maps platform, developers have already created mapping apps that display things such as, Interactive Homicide Stats by Distance and Type, Filter Hurricane Data by Shape, even New York Building Footprints.
Max Payson is a solutions engineer at Esri and he spoke with ADM about how the new program is making it easier for developers to transform data into eye-opening visuals, using what they call location intelligence, and how you can get on board!
Integrating the power of location intelligence across an organization
Geospatial cloud platforms, computing power and geographic information system (GIS) software give businesses the ability to analyze massive storehouses of information. The results often reveal new data patterns and stimulate innovative ways to increase success through an understanding of location intelligence.
But rather than spitting out reams of stats, tables, charts and spreadsheets, the geospatial cloud empowers people to plot complex analysis on easy-to-understand smart maps. These digital maps allow leaders, strategists and many levels of workers to visualize important trends across lines of business and take action in mission-focused projects.
The maps, when linked to the massive data streams from the Internet of Things (IoT), can even be updated in real time to monitor subtle trends. The location intelligence derived from these rivers of information can be easily combined with AI and predictive analytics to map out ways to drive productivity or adjust strategies before bigger problems develop.
With the geospatial cloud, people can create maps that can represent thousands of relationships between hundreds of layers of data on demographics, sales, population growth, traits of customers, likely customers, competitors, supply chains, delivery routes and countless other variables.
The results also can be modeled in 3D to support the work of professionals like urban planners and facilities managers, who also benefit from data streaming from the IoT for real-time updates to their models and maps.
With open platforms to stimulate innovative applications, it’s hard to summarize the richness of the tools and growing power of the geospatial cloud. But its influence can be seen in the thousands of leading businesses using it to analyze millions of layers of data and produce billions of maps every day.
Geospatial Cloud Grows in Strength, Flexibility and Accessibility
Increasingly, corporate leaders are realizing that intelligent maps provide an effective way to monitor sales, review assets in the field, keep up to date on national and global social and economic trends, and reinforce common goals across all departments.
The flexibility of tools, apps and data available in the geospatial cloud puts its power within reach of nearly everyone in an organization. Whether employees rely on company servers, desktop computers, laptops, tablets or smartphones, whether they work in the corporate office or are mobile and remote, they all can connect. Such widespread accessibility protects against information silos and allows for wider sharing of knowledge across the organization.
For instance, drawing upon analytic models, predictive algorithms, apps and big data, detailed insights can emerge through computerized analysis of layers of data about customers’ past buying history, their demographics by neighborhood and their interests by age, gender, education or profession. It also can factor in larger trends like local economies, seasonal weather, time of day and national or international political and social trends.
At the broader other end of the scale, smart maps receiving data from sensors on the IoT allow company analysts see trends mapped out in real time. The visualized location intelligence can show buying trends, population shifts or traffic patterns that affect deliveries, supply chains, asset management and research and development, and take into account trends across hundreds of layers of demographic, economic and political data.
Span of Influence of the Geospatial Cloud
Though vital to the for-profit sector, the power of the geospatial cloud is not the sole province of private business and industry.
It also helps most national, state and local governments map critical issues from health to crime to utility lines and even to eradicating land mines. And it undergirds the work of nongovernmental organizations around the world—groups trying to solve environmental issues, address social justice concerns and develop mission-focused, crisis-response strategies for hurricanes, earthquakes or epidemics.
For example, apps can take ongoing satellite imagery and current weather and temperature data to build a Living Atlas—a real-time picture of the world that shows permanent land masses, changing polar caps, epidemics, rising or falling wages, and trends in local agriculture or regional social culture.
Location-based information also can shape many policy decisions and help people across the political spectrum understand issues and options. The geospatial cloud offers scalable analysis from a single building to a neighborhood to a town, state, nation, continent, or the entire globe.
Keeps Evolving and Adding Depth
Broad in reach and deep in analytic power, the geospatial cloud can engage the minds and spirits of millions around the world through a project like the Living Atlas.
Apps also can be developed that engage people around the world in mission-driven campaigns and social enterprise. Volunteers can work together to track worrisome trends, and businesses can use location-based data and predictive apps to understand what consumers will want and need several years from now.
The geospatial cloud introduces a whole new scale of spatial intelligence, and businesses and organizations of every size and purpose are using it to break new ground and digitally transform their enterprises.
Jack Dangermond is the founder and president of Esri, the world’s sixth largest privately held software company. Founded in 1969 and headquartered in Redlands, California, Esri is widely recognized as the technical and market leader in geographic information systems, or GIS, pioneering innovative solutions for working with spatial data.
Education tends to be a pretty staid, if not conservative, sector, but the underlying analysis and associated data presentation available for the education market is moving very fast.
By way of example, at Education Geographics (EGS) we’re now starting our third year of producing online and interactive school dashboards and maps, and we are already heading up to 115 Non-Government client schools in Australia. At last count, our schools enrol about one in five Independent school children across all fee ranges.
To drive continual improvements in the underlying data, we’ve updated our spatial demand measures to the end of 2018 and we’ve found that these will tend to be a useful measure of demand by middle class families for Independent school places for 2019. During the year we will continue to update the dashboards with six monthly figures, so schools get an idea of demand by mid-2019, as they set fees for 2020. We are now producing the annual demand changes by maps as well, so schools can see which areas in their school catchment may have been impacted by digital disruption. This can come in handy when planning enrolment campaigns and bus routes.
We’ve also updated our roll profiles, which show schools the average fees at every level being paid every year across their catchment by parents, so EGS clients can see whether their parents are spending more or less on school fees than their neighbours. In a prosperous economy, parents are prepared to pay more; in a downturn, the urge is to save money, especially if investments in real estate are heading south. We’ve written on this before on our EGS site: https://www.educationgeographics.net.au/competition-at-the-coalface/
In addition, we now show the same bell curve distribution we’ve been doing for the range of fees, for the range of client school SES scores and for their parental income estimates. We call this our PIE Score as this sounded more polite than some of the alternative acronyms that were available.
The PIE score was tricky, as we can’t match parents with their individual tax returns and we hope that society never becomes so intrusive that we can, so we modelled an average standardised score for school parents for their local neighbourhood, using publicly available data in which privacy is protected. It isn’t the same as the actual figures the Government will be using to determine future funding of Non-Government schools, but it will give schools some idea of the extent to which their parents’ income is out of step with the SES scores and Fees currently paid.
Last year I presented some school stats from our national research dataset to a meeting of Victorian Bursars. In one chart, shown below, I ranked Australian Independent enrolments by neighbourhood, according to the average P-12 fees shown by the Household Expenditure Survey, and I ranked the Independent enrolments by school, using the average P-12 fees from My School. Then we took the two sets of numbers and inserted them in the same schematic.
So what you are looking at here is the average number of students across Australia on the vertical axis and the fees paid by parents and charged by schools on the horizontal axis. The students by suburbs are distributed in a nice blue bell curve pattern, with a mid-point about $10,000 and a longish tail out to the high fee end.
The students distributed by schools, on the other hand, shown in maroon, are clustered towards the low fee end, with a mid-point of about $8,000 and a large bump at the fair right hand side, for the high fee schools. This leaves a dearth of middle fee schools, compared to the average fees paid in the neighbourhoods which provide their students.
This infers schools in the third fee quartile charging between $8,000 and $17,000 should have been growing strongly in recent years, shouldn’t they? But we know from My School data they weren’t.
The My School statistics show half of the increases in Independent enrolments from 2008 to 2017 were in the bottom fee quartile of schools by student numbers, while three quarters of the increase were in the bottom two fee quartiles of schools. This means lower fee schools have been growing much faster than those in the top half of the fee range, but within the top half, there has also been a jump in demand for schools at the very high fee end, charging $25,000 and above. (Bear in mind these national P-12 fee figures tend to be higher in Victoria, and lower in Queensland).
And there has been a softening of demand in recent years for places in middle fee schools charging fees either side of the $10,000 half way mark.
From our national data on fees and our modelling of more than 100 Non-Government schools, we know demand has continued to grow for low fee Independent schools in outer metropolitan areas, among lower SES self-employed working families and supporters of more evangelical religions. The picture changes as we move closer to the higher SES suburbs closest to the CBD.
In recent years, the middle fee schools in middle class suburbs have been adversely impacted by a loss of part time jobs for mothers, who have been unable to return to the workforce in their former sales or clerical jobs, specifically to pay for Independent school fees, as these are jobs being hit hardest by digital disruption. It is these parents who are now crowding out very fast growing high SES State schools in middle white collar suburbs.
The middle class families lucky enough to find part time clerical or sales work in jobs most impacted by technology are living in the third quartile suburbs in our schematic, but more of them are choosing lower fee schools than they would have chosen in a more prosperous economic climate.
The wealth effect among more asset rich families has boosted demand for Independent school places in the higher SES inner suburbs, thanks to sustained low interest rates.
This means economic factors have pulled more of the central bell curve down the fee ranges towards lower fee schools in outer metropolitan areas, while the wealth effect has pulled some professional families in the third quartile up towards the higher fee end. This has left something of a vacuum for the middle fee schools, now competing more with a more aggressive State school sector.
In the future, I don’t think the wealth effect can be sustained much longer, with tighter lending regulation by APRA doing the RBA’s job of higher interest rates in driving down previously fast rising house prices, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne. This infers a softening of demand and a more competitive market in these suburbs for higher fee schools.
If the upswing in the jobs market over the past year or so continues into 2019, we would expect to see more of the third quartile families having the confidence to pay medium to high school fees. If however, the 2018 upswing flattens out during the election campaign in 2019, middle class families across the country will choose the more affordable lower fee Independent school options, or drift off to the State school sector.
The Commonwealth Government has recently adopted changes in Federal funding for Non-Government schools. These changes remove the spatial weighting for Occupation and Education from the old Howard-era SES scores and instead rely on data linkages to provide a direct measure of matched Personal Income Tax (PIT) for parents and guardians.
A higher PIT means higher SES scores for parents and guardians, lower Government subsidies and higher school fees, after transitioning periods and subject to loadings. With all other factors being equal, the additional fees to be paid by parents rise by about $300 for secondary students for each additional SES point.
Due to the lack of official information released about the impact of these changes on individual school communities, we have had to rely on whatever information was publicly available to assess their broader impact on specific demographic groups.
Following the recent by-election in Longman, it has become obvious parents are deeply concerned at any changes to the long-standing Commonwealth Funding formula and that these changes could have a political impact on the election due in May next year. To better inform the public and parents, we have constructed an interactive Map to show some reasonable impressions of how these changes could impact on current Federal seats.
It should be stressed however that these changes by the Commonwealth will be based on the incomes of parents and guardians at each school, rather than on the average residents and voters in our map. There are also caps on the minimum and maximum subsidies from the Commonwealth to minimise extreme variations and there are loadings for specific needs. So the funding for each school is not determined exclusively by a school’s SES score.
From our working knowledge of individual profiles of Non-Government schools, it can be concluded that the incomes of parents and guardians will be higher than those of non-parents as many parents take steps to earn additional income specifically to pay for their children’s education in Independent or in Catholic schools.
The map also shows 2016 Two Party Preferred votes in the same seats for the ALP and Coalition, 2016 primary House of Representative votes for the Greens and 2016 Primary Senate votes for Pauline Hanson’s One Nation.
It appears from the analysis underlying the map data, that the biggest increase in non-Government school fees will be felt in Mining seats, where younger, blue collar parents tend to choose better-paid jobs, often specifically to fund school fees and the mortgage on the family home. This change has been brought about mainly by the fact that blue collar jobs were accorded relatively low SES status under the old SES formula. With this weighting removed, their SES score will rise and the Government subsidy fall, driving up fees.
Conversely, the bigger winners appear to be parents typically living in inner urban areas, with incomes marginally above average, but with extremely high SES weightings for their tertiary education and professional jobs under the old SES formula. This weighting acted, in effect as a de facto measure of job security and superannuation entitlements and when it is removed, their new SES score tends to fall considerably. The extent is difficult to measure however, as these seats also contain high percentages of tertiary students, who we can assume do not have school aged children.
by Glyn Davis – Vice-Chancellor, the University of Melbourne
Thank you Shadow Minister.
My thanks to everyone for this nomination and award, and for those generous tributes. To be valued by peers is the most important recognition possible, and I am deeply grateful.
In the spirit of a lifetime award, and given a brief to provide light entertainment before an important address by Shadow Education Minister Tanya Plibersek, I have been asked to reflect on being a vice-chancellor. After three years in the role at Griffith University, and nearly 14 at Melbourne, it is a pleasure to offer a few homilies.
All this said, every vice-chancellor’s experience is different. Circumstances change, the possible one day becomes unimaginable the next. Context is everything.
And no one listens to advice anyway, so if I offer five observations drawn from my time as a Vice-Chancellor, it is in the certain knowledge they will be no use to you whatsoever.
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