7 March 2024

New student-centred framework to help schools navigate ways to improve

| Claire Fenwicke
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Education Minister Yvette Berry, Mount Rogers PS principal Felicity Levett and Education Directorate's Mark Huxley

Education Minister Yvette Berry, Mount Rogers PS principal Felicity Levett and Education Directorate’s Mark Huxley have high hopes for the new student-centred improvement framework. Photo: Claire Fenwicke.

It’s been heralded as an “ambitious world-leading system” which aims to improve the way Canberra’s public schools measure exactly how they’re delivering outcomes to students – and how they can be doing better.

The ACT Education Directorate will trial its new student-centred improvement framework across 18 public schools in terms 2 and 3 before rolling out the system Territory-wide.

It’s not just about looking at what good schools do and what’s good practice, but seeing if it’s actually translating to positive outcomes for kids.

“It’s great to know what best practice is but how do we know if it’s actually making a difference for kids in the classroom, every day, every week, every year?” Education Directorate school improvement executive group manager Mark Huxley said.

“[This has] more focus on: what are we doing everyday in our schools, the core business of teaching and learning, and is it having an impact in the way that we hope?”

Its design has taken 18 months, drawing on national and international best practice, as well as consulting with ACT public school principals.

graphic detailing improvement cycle under new framework

The Student-Centred Improvement Framework aims to guide schools through a cycle towards sustaining improvement. Photo: Supplied / ACT Government.

Mount Rogers Primary School principal Felicity Levett took part in the framework’s design.

She explained it had been “designed for purpose” to measure a school’s improvement metrics and evaluate where a school was up to in implementing them – ranging from learning outcomes to staff and student safety, professional development, resource allocation and more.

It aims to provide principals and school leaders with a map to know what next steps they need to take to reach a certain goal based on what they’re currently doing, which Ms Levett said had been difficult to figure out in the past.

“[Now] we’ve been able to take what works elsewhere, put it into our context, to be able to ascertain how we can make it clear for principals and leadership teams what the actual next important step could be,” she said.

There are two elements of the new framework she’s particularly excited for schools to access.

“For me, one of the most powerful parts of the new student-centred improvement framework is the wellbeing rubric, which looks at how a student feels they belong in a school, that their voice is valued,” Ms Levett said.

“[There’s] also the piece around how we ensure schools ‘hum’ and are safe places for learning, and that communities feel they have access to the school, to principals, to leadership teams and, most importantly, to classroom teachers.”

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Improvement is about schools self-assessing where they’re at with respect to student outcomes, teaching and leadership practices, and then identifying strengths and areas to work on.

Mr Huxley said such changes were usually made with a “top-down” approach, but this was unique in how involved ACT principals had been in its design.

“We know our parents like to have a say, we know our students love to have a say in what happens in our schools, so combining national and international best practice and localising that to our current context … has meant we’ve actually come together and [created] what we believe is a really good framework,” he said.

“The innovative part for us in the ACT is, we’re so small, we can all drive and get together in the same room in 30 minutes, and we’ve actually been able to take advantage of that and our principals are our advocates … and they’re fully involved in the co-design.”

It’s hoped the framework will make data more accessible and available, and aggregate it so school leaders can be better guided through their strategies.

“It’s looking really holistically across the school at all the things that make a school work and [seeing if they are] focused on making a meaningful outcome for students,” Mr Huxley said.

The collaborative process with ACT principals has caught the attention of leaders in this field.

University of Auckland Professor Emeritus of Education Helen Timperley PhD described the Student-Centred Improvement Framework as “an ambitious world-leading system of student-centred school review and improvement”.

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The framework and accompanying data dashboard also encourages more student and community input into how schools are operating.

Education Minister Yvette Berry said this would ensure strategies and outcomes were translating in the classroom.

“These dashboards will be capturing more student, staff and community voice than ever before, placing student needs and outcomes at the centre of everything we do,” she said.

“This will ensure schools are focused on implementing the right strategies, and adjusting more rapidly if the data suggests there is room for improvement.

“It’s a bit like bringing together a whole range of chapters in a book to tell a story, and then to make an assessment at the end of that to see what we can do even better.”

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Shocked to learn that Yvette Berry can actually read, all evidence points to the contrary. Worst Education Minister we’ve ever had.

Bruce McCourt8:07 pm 10 Mar 24

Your cynicism about improving learning for students is a disgrace. Any system initiative that seeks to get a better outcome for every child should, at the very least be worthy of serious consideration. I can proudly state that Mr Huxley and Mrs Levett are committed educators of great integrity who care deeply about students. Show some respect!

Blah, blah, blah. Wellbeing rubrics and other edu-babble have been the bane of every classroom teacher since the late’70’s early ’80’s. Educational administrators and academics that were more often than not ‘classroom refugees’, justifying their existence by reinventing the reinvented wheel, again.
“Improvement is about schools self-assessing where they’re at with respect to student outcomes, teaching and leadership practices, and then identifying strengths and areas to work on.”
Every school I ever worked in over a 30 year period was doing precisely this. The ‘Student-centred Improvement Framework’ is just another buzz word laden PR exercise to placate the media, confuse parents and satisfy the geeks that prepared it.

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