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Leadership and collaborative learning lifts education outcomes


Nous partnered with a state government organisation responsible for educational leadership development to improve collaboration across the state’s education system.

Lifting education outcomes across the state

After fifteen years of plateauing results, the state government sought to improve education outcomes in schools using evidence-based strategies that directly addressed teaching and learning. The reforms aimed to lift student outcomes by building a collaborative learning culture across the system, and developing current and future principals and other education professionals, to lead the state’s schools into the future.

“[The system leadership program] was the best professional development I’ve had in all my career as a teacher and education professional.”

Local school leadership program participant

Four signature projects to develop leaders and foster collaborative learning

  1. The development of communities of practice across the network

As the foundation of the reforms, collaborative geographic networks of primary, secondary and special schools were created to foster ideas sharing, skills improvement and a collaborative learning culture, using an evidence-informed communities of practice approach.

  1. The implementation of a program aimed at building local school leadership

Leader-led training for emerging leaders in schools, supported locally by school networks. A powerful blend of face-to-face, online and workplace development, coupled with career guidance, for emerging school leaders.

  1. The implementation of a program to develop system leaders

A transformational systems leadership program for principals chairing geographic school networks and local regional services for educational leaders.

  1. The establishment of a talent management framework to support high potential leaders

A framework for identifying potential school leaders early and a long-term development pathway to ensure a sustainable flow of high calibre leaders into schools.

New frameworks in every school and a major lift in educational leadership

The communities of practice framework established across the network now underpins the over 50 school networks across the state and is in use in every primary, secondary and special school. The framework for communities of practice has received enthusiastic praise from local and global education experts as a unique, evidence-based foundation for improving system outcomes.

At the start of the local school leadership program, only 54% of participants believed they had the skills to take the next step in leadership at their school. At end of the program this grew to 89%. More than 80% of the first 220 participants have recommended the program to their peers. The 28 facilitators of the program reported 100% satisfaction with the materials and content; and an increase in energy and engagement by themselves and their participants.

Feedback from participants and facilitators of the system leadership program indicates a major shift in mindset and behaviour across the state’s government school system, and genuine cultural change. The two-day intensive learning hub has been a particular highlight.

What other organisations can learn:

  • A collaborative and networked learning culture improves outcomes across complex systems.
  • Identifying and developing emerging and future leaders equips institutions for future success.
  • A leadership program that excites facilitators will also excite and inspire participants.
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