Six effective practices in high growth schools

This publication was originally published 13 October 2015.

Image: Six effective practices in high growth schools report


This publication explores the effective practices common to high growth schools

Drivers of school improvement are often complex and context specific. This publication describes the effective practices common to NSW government schools that achieved high growth in NAPLAN over a sustained period. These schools are defined as ‘High Value-Add’ (HVA) schools.

The six effective practices in high growth schools are:

1. Effective collaboration

Effective collaboration is considered vital to driving whole-school improvement. It includes teachers sharing work samples to ensure consistency in teacher judgement, developing easily accessible platforms to share teaching resources and using peer coaching and support programs to promote and develop effective teaching practice.

2. Engaging and sharing in professional learning

Professional learning needs to support strategic school goals and be shared among staff so that learning is embedded across the school. It includes using staff meetings as a platform to share learning and internal expertise, having peer supports to ensure that professional learning is applied and obtaining tangible skills and materials for the classroom.

3. Setting whole-school goals and strategies for change

Educators need to work together and set shared goals for effective change to occur. This includes having whole-school planning days and regular staff meetings to discuss, support and evaluate progress towards achieving goals.

4. Using explicit and effective teaching strategies

Showing students what success looks like and breaking down the steps required to achieve success is an important teaching strategy in high growth schools. Other strategies include using student data to identify students’ learning needs, developing learning targets and monitoring progress and developing accessible teaching resources that include templates for how to differentiate lessons and assessments.

5. Creating an environment that promotes learning and high levels of student engagement

Promoting a positive learning culture where students are engaged in school and value their outcomes is key to improving school performance. This includes using innovative teaching techniques, teaching students about literacy and numeracy through real-world examples such as transport, and organising trips to local universities for students and parents to help raise expectations about future study.

6. Setting high expectations for achievement

Creating high expectations for students, both academically and behaviourally, is essential to improving student performance. This could include displaying learning progressions in classrooms to show students what performance benchmarks are and having a common set of guidelines across a school that rewards positive behaviour.

Related Resources


  • Leadership and school improvement
  • Research report
  • Teaching and learning practices

Business Unit:

  • Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation
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