Tuesday 29 August 2017

Tuesday 29 August 2017

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Tuesday, August 29th
9:00 AM

Opening or closing doors for students? Equity and data-driven decision-making

Amanda Datnow, University of California - San Diego

9:00 AM - 10:15 AM

Data-driven decision-making is key pillar of educational reform initiatives in countries across the globe. While approaches to data use vary, the theory of action underlying these efforts is often similar. The common idea is that when leaders and teachers are knowledgeable about how to use data, they will become more effective in reviewing their existing capacities, identifying weaknesses, and charting plans for improvement. In the classroom, data can inform how teachers plan lessons, identify concepts for re-teaching, and differentiate instruction. For all these reasons, data use has significant implications for teaching and leadership. Ensuring equitable opportunities and outcomes for all students is also top priority of educators and policymakers. Data use can be an important lever for achieving equity, but how this may occur has not been well understood. Drawing on findings from in-depth qualitative research, this presentation will illuminate the conditions under which data-use efforts can help to open – or close – doors for students. Through a careful examination of day-to-day practices in schools and systems, this presentation will uncover how thoughtful data-use practices can expand students’ opportunities to learn, whereas misinformed use of data can limit their opportunities.

10:45 AM

Teacher leader and teacher leadership: A call for conceptual clarity

Susan Lovett, University of Canterbury

10:45 AM - 12:00 PM

Education systems cannot afford to lose promising teachers who could be the school leaders of tomorrow. My work shows a need to promote leadership as learning for teachers and students rather than as management and administration, heavy workloads and disconnectedness from students and their learning. Conceptions of leadership that allow teachers to see professional learning as the reason for their work make a contribution to school leadership as a whole. Schools benefit from leaders at all levels no matter their distance to classrooms. School cultures can stimulate leadership practices when professional learning exchanges among teachers are reciprocated. Professional learning is dependent on school leaders making the time and space available to support and encourage teacher leadership as an attractive option for teachers. An example of a reflective tool (heuristic) is highlighted for its potential value in reflecting on the content knowledge needed by leadership aspirants making the transition to leadership for learning work. This paper draws upon the longitudinal ‘Teachers of promise’ study of New Zealand teachers’ conceptions of leadership work, experiences and insights into why it matters for the profession and individuals to ensure teacher leadership is valued and possible. We need more conceptual clarity on who counts as a leader, the scope of leadership work and how it can be supported to capture those with potential to influence the work of colleagues as well as student learners.

Leading age-appropriate pedagogies in the early years of school

Beverley R. Fluckiger, Griffith University
Julie Dunn, Griffith University
Madonna Stinson, Griffith University
Elizabeth Wheeley, Griffith University

10:45 AM - 12:00 PM

There is increasing pressure on leaders and teachers to improve the academic achievement of children in the early years of school. Alongside this is recognition that social and emotional development are the important drivers of children’s school and lifetime success. This paper reports on the design and leadership of the pilot phase of the Age Appropriate Pedagogies program commissioned by the Queensland Department of Education and Training to refocus pedagogical practices in the early years of school. This refocus was deemed to be necessary in order to achieve strong academic outcomes while ensuring that children’s holistic development remained a key component of all learning and teaching. The program was developed by a Griffith University research team using an innovative research-informed and research-led design framed around the core premises that underpin Fullan’s (2007) theory of action for educational change. The program consisted of both professional learning and research, with these two components being inextricably linked via school-based action research projects. Findings from the pilot, conducted in 45 state schools across three regions, illustrate the positive effects that can be generated when systems, schools and universities work together in a research and professional learning partnership.

Science of Learning Network of Schools: The science of communities of practice

Andrew Jones, University of Melbourne
Frank Vetere, Point Cook Prep to Year 9 College (Vic)

10:45 AM - 12:00 PM

Frameworks referencing synthesised bodies of prominent research adorn education improvement policy like curiously named pieces of Ikea furniture—peculiar in their assemblage, ostensibly contemporary, and striking in their modular convenience. Amid this, most pundits still agree that we have an education advancement issue in this country. Despite significant increases in funding from successive federal and state governments, we simply haven’t been able to shift the needle. What we can ascertain is that compliance-based improvement approaches don’t work. They are unable to influence the cognitive maps, beliefs and understandings of the educator to the extent necessary to effectively improve outcomes for students at scale. Paradoxically, advancements in learning research mean we know more about learning now than at any other time in human history. Neuroscience, cognitive psychology and pedagogic research offer empirical insights into better understanding, measuring and promoting human development. However, despite this increased emphasis on learning research, one must ask, ‘What has been the impact of this new knowledge, really?’ Schools are awash with professional development options. In an age of such proliferation of professional learning and new information for teachers, is it that our school-based practitioners are simply overfed and undernourished? The Science of Learning Research Centre was established in 2012, funded as an Australian Research Council special research initiative, to improve learner outcomes in Australian classrooms. Five years later, the extensive transdisciplinary learning research is connecting with Australian schools in a very powerful way. The Science of Learning Network of Schools (SoLNoS) is a research translation initiative designed to create the necessary platform for schools and researchers to work better together in the implementation, development and refinement of learning research. The best professional learning communities not only have access to quality research but are also capable of engineering and implementing adaptive structures and systems that respond to the changing external environment and demands. These schools have a strong learning culture. The SoLNoS supports school leadership teams and syndicates of schools with critical guidance and access to the most relevant and reliable learning research available—research that is specifically related to their school improvement strategies and individual contexts. In doing so, the SoLNoS is able to assist school leaders in establishing the conditions for powerful professional learning to occur. This is a case study of a true community of practice—one inhabited by both researchers and teachers; one that impacts both knowledge and belief; and one designed to bridge the divide between research and practice.

1:00 PM

Leadership that transforms schools and school systems

Brian Caldwell, Educational Transformations

1:00 PM - 2:15 PM

This paper will report on the findings of four international research projects on leadership in high-performing school systems around the world. The paper will focus on building the capacity of school leaders to exercise professional autonomy and how different levels of government achieve strategic alignment among policies in their efforts to lift performance. The paper will summarise findings reported in The Autonomy Premium published in 2016 by ACER Press, along with the findings of a national survey of principals in Australia. The major part of this presentation is devoted to comparing Australia on 15 benchmarks derived from international studies in 2017 in Australia, Canada, China (Hong Kong), England, Estonia, Finland, Israel, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Singapore and the United States. The key message will be that Australia will not become one of the top-10 high-performing systems unless there is a transformation of approaches to leadership and leadership development at all levels, and unless due account is taken of outstanding practice in schools and school systems around the nation. Innovation and the resourcefulness of leaders abounds but these must be scaled up. This paper will explore the challenges and priorities for governments and leaders in schools and school systems.

Looking for the X-factors: Contextualised learning and young Indigenous Australian children

Karen L. Martin, Griffith University
Stuart Fuller, Cherbourg State School Qld

1:00 PM - 2:15 PM

This presentation outlines a research project into early childhood education funded by Queensland Department of Education and Training’s Education Horizon research grant scheme. The project will run from July 2016 to June 2017. This project involved two main research activities: an online survey of early childhood educators of young Indigenous Australians and a small case study of early childhood and early years education programs in Logan, Darling Downs and Far North Queensland regions. The pilot case study sought to identify ‘X-factors’ regarding the contextualisation of curriculum, pedagogy and assessment for young Indigenous Australian learners. This presentation will outline the case study model, describe and discuss the findings of the research at Cherbourg State School (Darling Downs region, Qld). It will outline initial findings and elements regarding experiences, expectations and praxis that underpinned the decision-making of parents, educators and school leaders.

2:15 PM

Karmel Oration: Leading schools and school systems in times of change: A paradox and a quest

Toby Greany, University College London

2:15 PM - 3:30 PM

The ‘paradox’ in this title refers to a set of contradictions that sit at the heart of education policy in many school systems. Policymakers in these systems want things that, if not inherently at odds, are nevertheless in tension— such as a tightly defined set of national standards and a broad and balanced curriculum; academic stretch for the most able and a closing of the gap between high and low performers; choice and diversity and equity; and so on. The ‘quest’ is for leaders and leadership to resolve these tensions in practice. School autonomy policies have placed huge power in the hands of, and pressure on the shoulders of, leaders in high-autonomy–high-accountability quasi-market systems. Research has often focused on the values, characteristics and behaviours of effective leaders and leadership teams, but there can also be a darker, toxic side to leadership, and it is clear that leadership agency is constrained by the influence of hierarchy and markets. Meanwhile, policymakers have become increasingly concerned with how to foster innovation as they wrestle with the question of how education might adapt to the needs of an increasingly complex, globalised world. Critics argue that change has been constrained by narrowly defined criteria for success and an instrumental focus on improvement, leading to a crisis of legitimacy. What seems clear is that change will require new approaches that somehow unlock leadership agency while supporting the development of new forms of leadership that can—and consistently do—resolve the paradox. This lecture will focus on England’s efforts to create a ‘self-improving school system’, which can be seen as one response to these issues. It will draw on the findings from a three-year study of the changes in England to draw out the wider implications for research and policy on leadership and school system reform.