Science of Learning Conference

Annie Fogarty was a member of a panel discussion at the recent Science of Learning (SOL) Leadership Accelerator in Melbourne. The SOL Accelerator was organised by Knowledge Society and hosted by the Crowther Centre, Brighton Grammar School.  

One hundred and thirty educators from around Australia attended to discuss and accelerate evidence-based change in effective teaching practice, and how the Science of Learning can be scaled in Australia from niche to mainstream.  

The Science of Learning is the cognitive-science on how students learn and connects learning to practical implications for teaching. It includes how students: 

All educators should be able to connect these principles to their classroom practise. Speakers at the conference included Dr Jenny Donovan CEO of the Australian Education Research Organisation, Pamela Snow Professor of Cognitive Psychology, Ollie Lovell author of Cognitive Load Theory in Action and Tools for Teachers, and Ross Fox Director of Catholic Education (Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn) who is working to ensure their whole system is based on the Science of Learning.  

With Australian students’ academic performance declining and 28% of our Year 7 students not functionally literate enough to be able to access further learning, we need to teach reading with evidence-based practises. This will ensure that at least 95% of our students can read effectively, not just 60 to 70%.  For this to happen, universities will need to base their Initial Teacher Education courses on evidence-based practises and professional learning for teachers will need to focus on developing this mindset and toolkit for present teachers.  

The Fogarty Foundation support the Science of Learning through the Fogarty EDvance School Improvement Program and our Teaching Intensives. Learn about The Science of Learning here.

In response to recent challenges, Fogarty EDvance workshops are now being delivered with a livestream option via the Microsoft Teams platform. This is a hybrid approach so participants can attend workshops in the easiest and safest way.

Throughout Term 1, this was a popular option for school leaders, allowing them to include team members who were not available to attend the face-to-face sessions. For some regional schools who were understaffed it meant they were able to participate in the program, without needing to travel to Perth during a challenging time for their schools.  Breakout rooms were also advantageous for connecting schools and allowing them to network, a great strength of the EDvance program.

Whilst these challenges remain, this will be a method we will offer in addition to face to face workshops, which is the recommended way of participation. We look forward to returning to the all ‘face to face’ approach soon.

Fifteen West Australian schools have commenced their school improvement journey with the Fogarty EDvance School Improvement Program. School leadership teams from primary, secondary, regional, metropolitan, public and Catholic schools have now begun their 3-year journey; a journey that for previous EDvance schools has significantly improved the academic outcomes for many West Australian students. 

Established by the Fogarty Foundation, the program focuses on building the capacity of school leadership teams to make informed, evidence-based decisions, strategically plan and ultimately, improve the academic outcomes of students in challenging communities.  

Congratulations to the following schools who make up Cohort 9 of the Fogarty EDvance School Improvement Program:

The Fogarty EDvance program has engaged with 126 schools, working with more than 400 school leaders who are impacting more than 58,000 students. 

Thirty school leaders and teachers attended the first EDvance Alumni workshop for 2022, with a webinar focused on a Guaranteed and Viable Curriculum. These schools have established professional learning communities and a whole school approach to high-impact instruction.

The Guaranteed and Viable Curriculum workshop builds on the work already commenced by the schools by ensuring all students are provided access to the same curriculum content in a specific course and grade level, regardless of their assigned teacher, and that this curriculum can be taught in the instructional time available.

Run as a full-day webinar, due to COVID-19 restrictions, feedback was overwhelmingly positive, with participants enjoying how the content was delivered, noting that it was relevant and easy to understand, providing participants with comprehensive knowledge.

In February, a fourth group of middle-leaders commenced the Secondary Teacher Leaders (STL) Program, a 9-month professional development program for Heads of Learning Areas and Level 3 teachers from EDvance Secondary schools. 

The fourth group of the STL program is aligned to Cohort 8 schools and commenced with Karratha Senior High School. With many of the secondary schools in regional locations a more tailored program has been designed so that regional schools are able to access the program.  The three clusters of this program for 2022 are;

Due to the current circumstances with COVID-19, the first two workshops for Karratha Senior High School were delivered as three half-day webinars, with support from their mentors both in-person and remotely. Feedback from participants were positive, noting the most valuable sessions were being able to collaborate to develop action plans, and having an opportunity to discuss evidence-based practice in their context.

One hundred and fifteen West Australian teachers and 100 students have cut their holidays short, returning to school for the fifth annual Fogarty EDvance Teaching Intensives. 

Initiated by the Fogarty Foundation in 2018, the intensives are run in partnership with Dr Lorraine Hammond, Associate Professor at Edith Cowan University, and hosted at Dawson Park Primary School. Each year the intensives have grown, supporting more than 365 teachers to implement high-impact instruction practices. 

The intensive week of professional learning provides early childhood, primary and secondary teachers with the opportunity to observe expert teachers, practise key skills, and obtain feedback and coaching as they finesse their high-impact instructional strategies. Steered by Dr Hammond, the program was created following evidence-based research into how to effectively support teachers to adopt new practices.  

“Research confirms that ‘one shot’ professional learning does not work. Instead, educators can transfer new skills to their teaching practice when they have access to theory, quality teaching demonstrations and have the opportunity to practice instructional strategies with ongoing support, guidance, feedback and coaching,” Dr Hammond explained. 

“We are creating a community of teachers who have developed high-impact instructional strategies they can share with their peers and implement in their schools. By sharing best practice and collaborating with their peers, our teachers will create a ripple effect that will improve the quality of teaching in Western Australia,” she said. 

High-impact instructional strategies integrate lesson delivery and design where content is explicitly taught with frequent checks for understanding. Lesson delivery relates to how content is presented (i.e., read with me) and includes continual checks for understanding by indiscriminately selecting students to take part in discussions. Lesson design refers to how new content is organised, presented and modelled (i.e., Guided Practice followed by Independent Practice). This includes daily reviews of previously learned knowledge and skills to reduce cognitive load and build automaticity. 

High-impact instructional strategies have been used by teachers at Dawson Park Primary School since 2014. The school has seen significant improvements in NAPLAN scores since the inception of these teaching strategies. 

“Our dedicated and professional team use high-impact instructional strategies in all areas of the curriculum. There is low variability in instruction, expectations are clearly communicated and as a result, our students come to school feeling comfortable and confident in their abilities – they know what to expect,” Pauline Johnson, Principal at Dawson Park Primary School explained. 

“We’ve seen significant improvements in student results. Our students perform well above the average when compared to similar schools and they have a positive attitude towards their learning,” she said. 

Georgie Wynne, Program Director at Fogarty EDvance reiterated the importance of innovative professional learning for educators and schools. 

“It is vital for teachers to be knowledgeable about evidence-based pedagogical research so they can develop an innovative ‘toolkit’ for successful and impactful teaching,” Ms Wynne explained. 

“Fogarty EDvance aims to inspire excellence and high-quality instruction in schools by investing in teachers, school leaders and school principals to ensure that all students receive a high-quality education, regardless of their background.” 

School visits are an important feature of the EDvance School Improvement Program, providing school leaders with the opportunity to attend current and alumni EDvance schools. During school visits, leaders see and discuss high impact instruction practices recently explored during their school improvement workshops.  

School visits allow the EDvance program to draw from and maintain connections with high performing EDvance schools as they become part of the Alumni Network.

Thank you to the following schools for recently hosting our Cohort 8 school leaders. 

Feedback from the school visits was exceptionally positive, with school leaders commenting that it was extremely valuable learning about a school’s improvement journey, seeing high impact instruction practices in action and having the opportunity to ask questions in real time. 

“I really appreciated watching the lessons and being able to ‘take away’ some thoughts to start putting into practice with my curriculum instructional pilot group.”

“Very engaging visit, teachers were able to show their personalities as well as their high impact strategies.”

“What a wonderful school. Your vibrant staff exceeded expectation. Thank you for being so willing to share. The positive culture of the school was very evident.”

“Fantastic to see the low variance across classrooms and the engaged students. So appreciative of how willing you are to share resources with us.”

In November, a third cohort of schools completed the Secondary Teacher Leaders (STL) Program, a 9-month professional development program for Heads of Learning Areas (HOLAs) and Level 3 teachers from EDvance secondary schools. 

Over 45 HOLA’s and Level 3 Leaders from ten EDvance schools came together for 5 workshops in 2021.

Key objectives for participants of the STL Program include:

Fogarty EDvance understands the complex role undertaken by secondary HOLAs and Level 3 leaders in school improvement and designed a program to support secondary teacher leaders in whole school improvement. 

Feedback from program participants was very positive:

100% felt they were a more effective leader because of the program.
97% felt their learning area was having more professional discussions about learning practices.
100% felt that as a result of the program, they were able to better lead an effective team.

[I valued the] opportunities to network with other HoLAs and the opportunities to learn about the structure or framework of how to do certain things as a leader i.e. having clear conversations and performance management processes.” Secondary Teacher Leader Participant, 2021 Program

“It was great having the mentor, I really enjoyed the individual mentor meetings and would have liked more.” Secondary Teacher Leader Participant, 2021 Program

“I have found this program very beneficial. It has given me extra tools for my tool kit and has provided me with guidance as to how to manage staff and difficult situations.” Secondary Teacher Leader Participant, 2021 Program

To complete the program participants will all submit a ‘story of impact’, which will allow them to reflect on achievements they have made against their action plans, and identify areas where there were changes to their leadership practice.

Congratulations to the teachers, leaders, school service staff and schools recognised at the WA Education Awards, 2021.

The dedication, inspiration, innovation and talent you share with your colleagues and students is exceptional, and we thank you for your commitment to improving student outcomes. 

Special mention to members of the Fogarty EDvance Network including;

Louise O’Donovan, Primary Principal of the Year 2021
Beeliar Primary School
Cohort 5 of the Fogarty EDvance School Improvement Program

Narelle Ward, Finalist for Primary Principal of the Year 2021 
Cassia Primary School 
Cohort 7 of the Fogarty EDvance School Improvement Program

Baynton West Primary School, Finalist for Primary School of the Year
Cohort 5 of the Fogarty EDvance School Improvement Program

Baynton West Primary School, Finalist for the WA Premier’s Excellence in Aboriginal Education Award
Cohort 5 of the Fogarty EDvance School Improvement Program

We would also like to congratulate Anika Brown, Halls Creek District High School, WA Beginning Teacher of the Year who was a participant in the 2021 Fogarty EDvance Teaching Intensives.

You can read more about these dedicated educators and schools here.

The FED team ran their second Explicit Instruction (EI) Secondary Network event for 2021 on 19 June at ECU in Mt Lawley, with 30 teachers and leaders from the EDvance school network in attendance. A more streamlined format for this session saw participants: 

The EI Secondary Network is held once per term on a Saturday, in partnership with Dr Lorraine Hammond and Edith Cowan University. The next EI Secondary Network seminar will be held on Saturday 18 September 2021. If you would like more information or are interested in attending the seminars, please contact Stacey Plaut