Where the difference is made

For the last several months we have been working towards new ways of supporting schools in the work they do. This work is based on the conviction that the key to helping students improve their learning depends on the quality of the teaching they receive on a daily basis.

The literature for the last decade is very clear, teachers make the difference to student achievement, and they need to be well trained, well resourced and well supported in ongoing opportunities for professional growth.

This is a task that requires locating this support as close to the learning spaces as possible and in collaboration with the each individual school community. In this way we need to rethink the popular current models of support for schools and teachers. No longer should we think in terms the head office at the centre of decision making, nor is decision making only the responsibility of the school. The challenge is to find out what it is sensible for each to do for the benefit of the system. This implies therefore that the expertise resides across the system. We have to build new ways of communication, collaboration and setting strategic priorities. It is an exciting task and one we are now significantly commited to.

To this end we have developed a metaphor for embedding learning at the centre of the work we do. It is called ‘the learning web’. Its construct reflects a web 2.0 world as well as the intricate patterns and connections implicit in delivering quality schooling today.


3 thoughts on “Where the difference is made

  1. As a teacher within our system of schools, I look forward to seeing how these new structures will take shape.

    The need to provide support as close as possible to the schools themselves is important. For a diocese that would be generally described as “western suburbs” of Sydney, we are quite diverse in both geography and people. The nature of our communities and their needs from Parramatta, to the Hills District, right through to the Blue Mountains is very diverse. As such, our schools want and need to address local issues, while remaining focussed on providing an outstanding Catholic education.

    I don’t see a “head office” in our system as an administrative one as such, but rather a “support office”. This would mean a certain amount of admin to remove unnecessary burdens from schools that distract them from their mission (some would argue compliance as a case in point). On the other hand, the office also needs to work with schools to help them (to borrow a now famous Parra phrase) “Focus on Learning”.

    There’s a lot of change occurring in our system. We want to have the best in our system – the best staff, the best learning and the best resources that will help us nurture the best learning communities. The ultimate result, as you suggest, needs to be a generation of young men and women of faith who make the world better for their contribution to it.

  2. Thank sRobert, I welcome thethoughtful response. The hardest thing so far has been that building the structures is still ” a work in progress.” Some people find this difficult and want a sense of immediacy about the structures. However we are committed to collaboration and involvement, so it becomes more organic and therefore takes time. I believe we’ll get a more sustainable outcome however

  3. Greg, Robert’s point about compliance etal is very poignant. School staffs are under more and more pressure due to state and federal agenda which are out of their control. Compliance is just one of these agendas. How will the new model reduce the external pressures and allow teachers to focus on learning and teaching?

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