Middle Childhood Survey Information for principals

What is the NSW Child Development Study and why is it important?

The NSW Child Development Study (NSW-CDS) is a longitudinal study of child mental health and wellbeing in a cohort of children whose teachers completed the Australian Early Development Index in 2009. This project aims to map patterns of resilience and vulnerability throughout early and middle childhood, in relation to later mental health, educational achievement, work, and psychological wellbeing. This information can be used by schools, governments, and other agencies/organisations to help develop policies and programs to promote the healthy development of all Australian children, and to maximise their potential and resilience.

What is the Middle Childhood Survey (MCS)?

The MCS is one component of the NSW Child Development Study. The survey is a measure of child mental health and wellbeing, completed by children in Year 6 in 2015. The MCS gathered information from children about their thoughts, feelings, actions, and experiences, and will be used to identify vulnerability and protective factors in relation to a variety of mental health, educational, and social outcomes that are relevant to policy and planning to ensure the healthy development of Australian children.

How was the MCS completed?

Year 6 students completed the 30 minute survey online in class. There was an audio-version of the survey for students who needed help with reading. Responses were recorded anonymously using survey software developed and managed by Multi-Media Concepts. There were no researchers at schools; instead, teachers assisted students to log into the survey software, which was designed to be self-administered at the student’s own pace, once logged in.

How will the MCS data be used?

The research data collected within the MCS will remain the property of the University of New South Wales (UNSW), and primary data analyses will be undertaken by study researchers in collaboration with our partners and stakeholders. Data from the MCS is being combined with information from other organisations via record linkage procedures in order to achieve the aims of the study. Please see our website Information about the NSW-CDS; Information about Record Linkage. Examples of databases that may be requested in future linkage projects include, but are not limited to, health (e.g., information on hospital admissions), education (e.g., literacy and numeracy skills), welfare (e.g., information from community services), and justice (e.g., information on crime statistics) records relating to the student and his/her parent(s).

What are the outcomes relevant to my School and Community?

In consultation with government partners and stakeholder groups, the research team will provide schools, governments, and other organisations with statistical information that can be used to develop policies and programs that promote the healthy development of all Australian children. We will provide community-level feedback from the MCS to government and to the public. In addition, where the number of children completing the survey in a school totals at least 15, we will provide confidential school-level feedback directly to the Principal of each participating school. These will summarise the mental health and wellbeing of children in that school without identifying any of the individual participants.

How is Privacy maintained?

No individuals will be identified at any stage in the research. Ethical guidelines require that information be obtained in a way that ensures no individual students can be identified to the research team. Please see the MCS Privacy Management map for information on data collection procedures. Any record linkage will be undertaken according to strict privacy protocols (CHeReL), protected by NSW state and Commonwealth laws, for more information please see: Information about Record Linkage. Ethical approval of the MCS has been obtained from the UNSW Human Research Ethics Committee (Reference Number HC14307), in accordance with the National Statement on Ethical Conduct of Human Research (including associated Guidelines approved under Section 95A of the Privacy Act 1988 relevant to Catholic and Independent schools, and Section 41 of the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998 relevant to NSW public schools).