Over these past ten weeks of Term 2, I have had the great pleasure and privilege to work with to work with like-minded St Luke’s colleagues and other professional support external to the College on Action Research Projects.
Action research allows us to lead evidence-based school practices and change, and it is a complex process. Having teams of people who give time to the curation, generation and communication of research supports teachers and allows our school to make better decisions. Small teams of teachers dedicated to raising the profile and practice of action research ensures St Luke’s is proactive in its processes, agile in response to current educational research, evidence informed in its methods, and communications, and keenly focused on its strategic impacts.
St Luke’s is a learning organisation which focuses on student learning. With that comes the need for teachers to see themselves as learners. St Luke’s leaders and teachers critically reflect on learning through weekly Professional Learning Meetings and external professional development opportunities. In 2021, this has been complemented by the action research projects with the following driving questions:
- How does the St Luke’s coaching model impacting student learning?
- To what extent do our wellbeing initiatives have a positive impact on the individual and collective desired outcomes for our year 7-10 students?
- To what extent does a holistic approach to play-based learning have an impact on academic and social/emotional outcomes for K-2 students?
Further to this, there has also been our work with 10 CEDP schools and the University of Wollongong with the Oracy Project for kindergarten students. Furthermore, there is the ongoing and privileged work of engaging with 37 schools around the country each time we gather for the New Metrics Project led by the University of Melbourne. It is exciting, enthralling and challenge work and offers much promise for better experiences and opportunities for our students, both in the short and longer term.
As we have meandered through the complexities of evidence based researched in key focus areas, the NSW Government promoted the development of a learner profile because of the call to end dominance of ATAR. The state government argues that the new NSW Learner Profile, a digital wallet, will be a young person’s passport to future education and employment. In developing the learner profile, the differences and similarities between a profile, digital passport, folio of evidence and mainstream resume, need to be resolved. Furthermore, the standards which sit underneath a universally accepted learner profile need to be accepted as valid by wide ranging audiences including parents, future employers, tertiary organisations. More importantly, there is the for the students/learners themselves to understand, translate and be affirmed by a profile which accurately conveys their strengths, interests, motivations and abilities.
Developments such as the NSW Learner Profile are responding to growing knowledge that Australians say they’re not convinced the education system prepares us for the workforce. School is not just about developing economic pawns for the future economy, however it is the main driver of change being promoted by government.
There has also been a push to consider new ways of learning and working for teachers as reflected by a plan to end the 9am to 3pm school day in NSW. As part of our collective transformation agenda in Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta, St Luke’s and many other schools are exploring new ways of learning and working. In fact, inspired by a St Luke’s staff meeting in May, I am soon to meet with fellow principals and system leaders to further explore the topic. As a part of that we will consider ‘Scheduling for Learning, Not Convenience‘ as part of our driving question, How might new ways of student learning enrich the professional lives of staff? In reflecting on this question, we will consider the structures, resources and mindsets required for ‘new ways’ of student learning, and how those structures, resources and mindsets might enrich the professional lives of teachers.
To my St Luke’s colleagues, and colleagues afar, rest well these holidays.