Stephen Heppell says that one of the most enjoyable aspects of his work is being able to see what schools and sectors around the world are doing and then adapt some of the great ideas to the local model.
We have some exemplar systems, schools and researchers in Australia and New Zealand that are thinking critically and creatively and I have often said that the Victoria Department of Education and Early Childhood Development is an example of best practice.
One of their major initiatives has been around the regeneration of the Broadmeadows precinct. Similar to parts of western Sydney, the Northern Metropolitan Region was characterised by low rentention, high unemployment and migrant population and a broad disengagement by teachers and students.
A lot of work has gone into re-shaping learning and re-building schools involving everyone from the regional office to parents, local council, industry and technology partners. This is a community project, built on the premise of giving students a future by giving them a relevant education. The NMR Regional Director, Wayne Craig admits that in turning these schools around some courageous and bold decisions had to be made such as closing two under-performing schools.
Improvement is a long hard road – you cannot succeed without addressing the fundamental beliefs and long held assumptions about learning and teaching. When there is a consensus on a curriculum for learning and teaching and the accountability is unequivocal. Teachers take responsibility for improving student learning outcomes, principals accept the responsibility for improving school performance and systems take responsibility for ensuring all schools are meeting targets.
When you hear Wayne and principals like Don Collins from Coburg Senior HS and Glenn Proctor from Hume Central Secondary College talk, you see educators who are prepared for the hard conversations, who use data and feedback to inform their work and who have an unwavering commitment to getting the best out of their students and teachers.