Department of Education, Skills and Employment

Online Formative Assessment Initiative – Discovery Phase

In March 2019, the Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment commissioned contentgroup to develop and deliver a high-level overarching communication and engagement strategy to support the successful development and implementation of the Online Formative Assessment Initiative, through its discovery phase.

We used our Strategic Communication and Stakeholder Engagement Framework to deliver the strategy, in collaboration with multiple key stakeholders (internal and external) involved in the initiative and part of its governance model.  

It was expected that our communication and engagement strategy would:

  • help communicate the story of the initiative;
  • support a discovery process that establishes underlying assumptions of the initiative with teachers and school leaders;
  • bind the work of three education agencies into a single, cohesive, compelling program of communication activity that clearly explains the discovery phase;
  • be informed by key insights (positive and negative) from the ORIMA Research;
  • adapt as the detail, function, context and priorities of the discovery phase were determined and approved in consultation with the education agencies, PMO and PMB (which included the Department).



The strategy described communication goals and benefits, audience/communication channels, SWOT analysis, risks and mitigations, and a measurement and evaluation framework to support the success of the initiative, specifically during the discovery phase.

contentgroup adopted an open, transparent and consistent approach in all communication and engagement efforts, with a focus on how the initiative would potentially improve the learning outcomes of every Australian student. 

Through this project, contentgroup gained a further understanding of the operating environment at the Department as well as experience in effectively explaining high-profile complex national projects using simple, plain English appealing content.

We also developed and delivered the following products/services:

  • An implementation plan; 
  • A measurement and evaluation framework;
  • A multimedia product developed from audio/video content and interviews with key stakeholders to showcase the initiative’s journey during the discovery phase;
  • Media monitoring and reputation management;
  • Factsheets, infographics, initiative look and feel (mood board, templates for stakeholder presentations, letterheads, reports, etc);
  • Media training, media holding statement and protocols;
  • Copywriting;
  • Conducted stakeholder interviews and surveys;
  • Used ORIMA Research provided by the Department to advise education agencies and PMO on their stakeholder engagement approach throughout the project;
  • Participated in regular stakeholder meetings;
  • Provided regular updates and written progress reports during an on completion of all work as part of our contract with the Department; and
  • Delivered high-level advice and recommendations for communication and engagement in the next stage of the initiative (alpha phase).

An extensive process of stakeholder consultation and review of the strategy throughout the discovery phase enabled us to achieve the required outcomes.

Our framework and strategy have supported the project team in progressing the initiative to its next stage – the alpha phase. Some of the content we developed and delivered is publicly available at the Initiative website:

Client Testimonials

“contentgroup played an important role in building trust between three national agencies and supporting them to work more effectively together to deliver this initiative. In doing so they developed protocols around handling of media requests, developed presentations and speeches for use by the Managing Director and helped to build an overall narrative for the discovery phase that all agencies could use. They also engaged constructively in internal governance working groups. contentgroup adapted to a changing environment and scope of work, with less overt public facing communication activity, but provided strong support in managing and responding to media enquiries, monitoring media and social media, developing website content and branding and the overarching communication and engagement strategy for the project. contentgroup provided excellent support in capturing video content to promote to teachers and principals the value of the project. They demonstrated strong written communication skills with a strong focus on developing content to meet overall strategic objectives.”

Kim Ulrick, Assistant Secretary, Teaching Policy and Standards Branch, Department of Education, Skills and Employment

“It was a pleasure to work with contentgroup in supporting the discovery stage of our national education project. They were professional, responsive, creative and reliable. They always did what they said they were going to do and always connected their ideas to practical steps and outcomes. The content communication framework delivered us a clear and coherent plan that they implemented effectively. As the project lead, I appreciated David’s wise counsel on a number of media and other tricky project issues. I am happy to recommend contentgroup and would be pleased to work with them in the future.”

Jenny Donovan, Managing Director, Online Formative Assessment Initiative