for All Learners
Revising learning and teaching networks for improved school performance
Learning and teaching networks between education professionals are central to ongoing school improvement for Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Melbourne.
The School-wide Improvement Forum (SWIF) model is one example of how Catholic Education Melbourne’s Southern Regional Office approached this critical work in partnership with schools.
The methodologies and implementation of the networks are different in each region because each has unique needs. However, the common drivers of building leadership capacity, and understanding data/evidence and impact are shared across the Archdiocese.
The reimagining of the learning and teaching network at the beginning of 2019 enabled a renewed focus on literacy and numeracy as the drivers for school improvement.
Engaging school leaders
Key school leaders – including principals, deputy principals and leaders of literacy, mathematics and diversity – were engaged by the network to enhance their capacity for a rigorous focus on student and school data and evidence.
Network days were held each term and were facilitated by staff from the Southern Regional Office and Dr Ryan Dunn from Agile Schools.
The team planned with Dr Dunn before and after each network day, adjusting the design based on progression and on the feedback provided by more than 200 participants.
Each day of the SWIF had a particular focus for exploration:
- Day 1: School Improvement Research & Achieving Clarity
- Day 2: Considering Evidence
- Day 3: Enabling Environments
- Day 4: Evaluating Impact.
The SWIF learning design focused on supporting leaders to strategically plan for improvement, and building leadership capabilities at both the team and individual level.
Opportunities were provided for leaders to develop and monitor school improvement with their leadership team, collaborate with leaders from other schools and break out into content-specific workshops.
SWIF was supported online by a Google+ Community and in school by regional leadership consultants and learning consultants.
Understanding data and monitoring impact were central to each part of the process, and SWIF focused on broadening leaders’ understanding of the types of evidence that need to be considered in monitoring and evaluating the impact of improvement strategies.
Dr Dunn explored with leaders the types of environments that enabled school improvement, and introduced templates and processes from Agile Schools to enhance school improvement work.
Improving educational outcomes
The network initiatives were well-received by participants. They found that Dr Dunn’s research deepened their understanding of school improvement, and there was value in dedicating time to school team dialogue and cross-school collaboration.
Evaluation data identified that 90% of attendees agreed that these forums supported their improvement efforts, with 92% indicating that they gained useful evidence-based research and 89% believing they had acquired new skills and tools.
Feedback surveys indicated that SWIF had an impact on the way schools planned for, monitored and evaluated improvement. One school principal stated that there had been a significant shift in the leadership team’s use of data as a result of SWIF: ‘We are now far more focused on data, dedicating a meeting every fortnight where we discuss and analyse student data. Specific actions are also set as a result of these discussions.’
Another principal said: ‘SWIF made it clear that as a leadership team we need to be constantly touching base and discussing where we are and where to next, but allowing for smaller attainable steps.’
When asked about the longer term benefits of participation in SWIF, one principal stated that ‘it will build greater leadership capacity and confidence as we engage in rigorous professional dialogue’. Another principal offered that ‘it provided us with a framework for implementing sustainable change’.