School registration manuals transformed

School registration manuals transformed

In this case study we describe how we helped the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) use plain language to transform their school registration and accreditation manuals. Schools found the existing manuals hard to use. And the language was legalistic and confusing. We created new streamlined documents that are 25% shorter, simple to navigate, and written in clear, precise terms that are easy to read.

The client. NESA is an independent statutory authority that is responsible for setting and monitoring educational standards in NSW. All schools must follow NESA standards for:

  • curriculum and assessment
  • teaching
  • school regulation.

The problem. First published in 2005, NESA’s school registration and accreditation manuals had been updated many times due to legislative changes. It was now time for a major overhaul to improve some of the main issues:

  • Lots of information was repeated, which confused the readers.
  • Legal details were mixed up with the content that schools needed to focus on.
  • The layout was cluttered, with large areas of dense text.

The process. We applied a 6-step process that aligns with the ISO standard for plain language. Over 10 months of collaborating closely with NESA, we:

  • assessed the original document
  • did a full structural review
  • streamlined the number of sections
  • cut the word count
  • added design elements
  • finalised the end product.

The solution. Our editors worked with NESA to deliver:

  • 2 new manuals that were 25% shorter than the originals
  • a new template to use for future manuals
  • a guide to explain the changes to users
  • a self-assurance tool for schools to assess how well they meet the requirements.

The outcome. While the project improved the manuals, it also led to organisational change:

  • Better structure: A simple 5-part structure that makes navigating easy.
  • Improved wording: Simplified language that makes it easier for schools to understand the requirements.
  • Enhanced design: A clean new look that helps schools find what they need at a glance.
  • A new perspective: NESA is reviewing how it uses plain language in public documents.

The feedback. The team from NESA was delighted with the new manuals:

  • “The [Foundation’s] full structural review was critical to the success [of the project].”
  • “It was… a great learning experience on document editing, formatting and plain English!”
  • “[You were] always accessible and easy to work with.”
  • “We have enjoyed working with your team and truly value what you do.”
In a classroom, a teacher supervises a class of primary school students who are writing

Part of the EdventureCo Group​