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Sam Symes

Sam Symes

Pullenvale State School, QLD

Workshop: Encouraging use of evidence to inform decision-making

Participants in this workshop will need to bring your own device (Android or Apple).  

Evidence for Learning ( is a non-profit organisation that exists to support great practice in education across all schools and classrooms in Australia.

Our vision is an Australia where evidence-informed approaches raise the learning impact for 5- to 18-year olds, so that all children, regardless of background, make the best possible progress. We do this through building, sharing and encouraging the use of evidence to strengthen school decision-making leading to improved educational outcomes for learners. School leaders in this workshop will learn about the way we are helping to build and share evidence with the Teaching and Learning Toolkit as well as learning about the evidence ecosystem.

The Teaching and Learning Toolkit (the Toolkit) is a free online summary of global educational research drawn from an international literature source of more than 10,000 studies (Evidence for Learning, 2017b). The Toolkit synthesises international and Australian research, to estimate the average impact, cost and strength of the evidence for a wide range of teaching and learning approaches. The Toolkit is a live resource that will be updated regularly as new studies are published in Australia or overseas. The Toolkit was recently upgraded with additional section focused on Australasian evidence through a collaboration with the Melbourne Graduate School of Education at the University of Melbourne. 

Educators in this workshop will learn about the evidence ecosystem ( The evidence ecosystem is the interaction of two processes; the impact evaluation cycle in schools and the wider evidence chain involving education researchers and policymakers (Evidence for Learning, 2017c).

Educators in this workshop will use the Toolkit to detail how they can turn evidence into action within their school (for example, how they can implement feedback at their school or classroom). The educators will explore how they can use the approaches within the Toolkit to help address a selected challenge they are facing at their school. They will also explore how to measure the impact of the approach/s they are proposing (such as through the use of pre- and post-intervention measurements).

Whole school (F–12)


Sam Symes is Principal at Pullenvale State School in the West of Brisbane, an academically high-performing, high-socioeconomic status, independent public school. Sam has begun to challenge the models of practice and the teaching and learning processes in the school, using the methodology of the Teaching and Learning Toolkit. Sam took up this position in 2017.

Previously, Sam was Deputy Principal from 2015 to 2016 at Regents Park State School in Logan City, south of Brisbane. He is an evidence-informed school leader who uses Evidence for Learning’s impact evaluation cycle to make explicit improvements to the challenges in the school. Sam and his team used student achievement data combined with attendance and socioeconomic status data to identify a problem in students’ maths confidence. The team turned to the Evidence for Learning’s Teaching and Learning Toolkit, a free online summary of up-to-date international and domestic educational research, designed to inform practice. The Toolkit helped them to identify high-impact approaches to improve students’ maths confidence, and the team selected mastery learning as a strategy.  

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