Collective efficacy in small schools - film

Covered in this illustration of practice:

Connection, collaboration and challenge are the three main themes of this short and charming film. Metropolitan and rural small schools have unique contexts but they are still contexts from which we can all learn.

In small schools one can make strong connections with the whole school community. School leaders and teachers can really get to know the whole child. This illustration of practice promotes collective efficacy which is essential to creating optimal learning environments where all students are challenged and engaged to achieve their educational potential. These are the same ideals that we strive to attain in our larger schools.

When reflecting on this film you can consider these insights from a refreshing perspective that ensures 'every child is known, valued and cared for.'

Collective efficacy in small schools

Transcript of Collective Efficacy in Small Schools (4 minutes 46 seconds)

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are advised that this video may contain the images, voices and names of people who have passed away.


[On screen text] Collective efficacy in small schools


Voice Over: Small school settings can have many advantages for students and teachers.

[On screen text] Jack Priestly – Teacher, Clunes Public School

Jack Priestly: Being in a rural setting, you get to make great connections, not just with the child, but the whole child. You get to know them inside and out and everything about them.

[On screen text] know the student

[On screen text] Jesse – Student, Vacy Public School

Jessie: I think that the best thing about going to a small country school is that you sort of know everyone and you're friends with everyone and you're not going to get excluded from anything.

[On screen text] Kate Hutchinson – Teacher, Clunes Public School

Kate Hutchinson: There's a lot of differences with, I think, the community as well and the relationships that you can have with the parents in a smaller school. There's probably a greater connection in a smaller school, even though you might not have a staff like a stage to collaborate with. You still get a school to collaborate with.

[On screen text] collaborative relationships

[On screen text] Sam – Student, Vacy Public School

Sam: It's a really small school, but there's two ovals which all the kids can play on, so it's pretty spread out

Voice Over: In identifying and catering to high potential and gifted students, small schools often need to reach out and expand their networks for expertise and support.

[On screen text] whole school collaboration

[On screen text] Adrienne Bruce – Principal, Terrey Hills Public School

Adrienne Bruce: One of the things I've actually noticed about being here at Terrey Hills is that our students are really, really interested in in learning. But when you sit back down there and actually look at our data and it actually shows that our really, really high performing children are actually not being challenged.

[On screen text] promote challenge

So the premise that we've actually established here now across the three community of schools - The Forest, The Beaches and The Pittwater network is to identify teachers who've got that particular knowledge and expertise of high potential gifted education. These teachers will be actually working in with the schools, the principals, the executives and classroom teachers to share their knowledge and expertise of how we can really, really cater for these particular children.

[On screen text] teacher expertise in HPGE

Jack Priestly: Without the other teachers that I have in my network, in my school, in my community of schools, in my state... I don't have that …the ability to identify kids.

Kate Hutchinson: Teacher's best friend is collaboration and working with each other because it's a team profession.

[On screen text] collective efficacy

Adrienne Bruce: These children really, truly actually do require the same level of support, even as much as our learning support children. They still actually require the scaffolding to enable them to, you know, to actually reach their true potential. This particular teacher, she's sharing her expertise with our staff members. So on a Thursday morning, she actually works with a lot of our identified children on really, really sort of challenging on that higher order thinking, project based learning to really, really sort of capture their engagement. And part of our PDP process is that teachers actually come and watch her, you know, in her practice. They've gone back and thought about it from a classroom teacher’s point of view. And I think that's really important so that it's not going to be time consuming, actually therefore becomes part of our practice.

[On screen text] challenge

[On screen text] HPGE as part of practice

Kate Hutchinson: Us as teachers we look at our students and we find out what potential they might have and give them opportunities to show that, whether it's in STEM or project based learning or in our extracurricular groups. You know, we're always evolving to try and find out ways and give kids experiences to show their potential.

[On screen text] look for potential

Adrienne Bruce: And also look at linking in with our high schools just to enable the journey, so it just doesn't stop at a primary school. It just continues going on, you know, in a high school to make sure that we really, truly are capturing these particular children so that these children are not falling through the net, that we really are actually meeting their needs, because one of our department's strategic direction is every student is known, valued and cared for. So the HPG really, really does actually sort of, you know, meet those particular children's needs.

[On screen text] every student is known, valued and cared for

[On screen text] Professional learning is key

Voice Over: Professional development is key, Like Terrey Hills, small schools can work with their networks to share knowledge and resources and develop their capacity to meet the needs of high potential students.

[On screen text] HPGE policy

Adrienne Bruce: The current policy that's actually come out is really, really very, very concise, it's clear cut. It's a really, really helpful guide for classroom teachers to really in terms of, you know, to enable them to access and also to understand.

[title on screen] Find the high potential Develop the talent Make the difference

[title on screen] NSW Government logo

[title on screen] © 2021 NSW Department of Education

End of transcript

Questions for professional learning

For school leaders:

  • How can professional learning be designed to find the potential and effectively cater for the needs of high potential and gifted students in small schools? Consider discussing grouping strategies, working collaboratively through online modules, action research or building up and sharing a resource collection.
  • How could your small school strategically allocate funding, personnel and resources to support high potential and gifted students in a way that is transferable between sites? Consider connecting to the local community as part of the learning program.
  • How can learning spaces be designed to create a community of practice between high potential and gifted students in small school settings?

For teachers:

  • What does it look like to effectively use technology to facilitate learning between high potential and gifted students in small school settings?
  • Teachers in small schools use differentiation as core business. How can the practice of differentiation in small schools increase challenge in classroom programs, as well as assist teachers to recognise the potential in their students?
  • What does it look like when high potential and gifted students are engaged in their learning?


  • Teaching and learning


  • Collaborate

Business Unit:

  • Educational Standards
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