School leaders

Practical advice to support school leadership teams to implement high impact professional learning practice in school.

Establish a consistent approach to embed HIPL practice in your school

Work through the online learning module Leading HIPL to deepen your own understanding and capability to build a High Impact Professional Learning environment in your school.

Use the School professional learning self-assessment tool to reflect on your current whole-school approach to professional learning and consider how school leaders, teachers and non-teaching staff can work together to establish a consistent, high-quality approach aligned to professional learning policy.

The Professional Learning for Teachers and School Staff Policy recognises that all teaching staff and some non-teaching staff - such as Student Learning Support Officers (SLSOs) - have a role to play in improving student progress and achievement. It also recognises that all staff contribute to ongoing school improvement and require a continuous, deliberate cycle of professional learning.

The diagram above illustrates how the five elements of the HIPL model work together to support teaching and leading in schools:

  • Strengthening teaching quality to improve student progress and achievement remains at the centre of professional learning.
  • The three HIPL elements that describe the cycle of continuous professional learning surround this core purpose.
  • Wrapping around all of these practices are the strategic actions of school leaders, focused on enabling continuous and coherent professional learning.

Use a HIPL approach to plan strategically for whole school professional learning

School Excellence in Action requires school leaders to plan strategically for a sustained, narrow, and deep professional learning program for staff which is informed by student needs and aligned to the school’s Strategic Improvement Plan. The situational analysis developed to underpin school planning may provide direction for professional learning needs across the school.

The Teacher effectiveness and professional learning page on the School Excellence in Action website explores how professional learning should be considered at each stage of the School Excellence cycle within a HIPL environment.

In a HIPL enabled school, school leaders ensure structures and processes are in place, including allocation of time, to support professional learning that responds to the identified needs of students and teachers. They also collect and use evidence to inform and measure the impact of professional learning at a whole-school level to drive deeper and stronger practice over time.

Identify who will lead HIPL practice in your school

Leading or co-leading the professional learning of others is an ideal role for potential leaders in your school, particularly those teachers with the capacity to strengthen the practice of their colleagues. This may include Highly Accomplished or Lead Teachers currently in your school or teachers seeking to become Highly Accomplished or Lead teachers. You may like to consider the following questions:

  • With regard to professional learning, how are you currently using Highly Accomplished teachers to maximise support for colleagues or your Lead teachers to lead professional learning initiatives?

  • Do you have teachers with the required leadership skillset, expertise and credibility to lead professional learning or strengthen colleagues’ professional practice?

  • Do these teachers have the right domain-specific expertise and deep knowledge of pedagogy and assessment to drive professional learning aligned to school priorities?

  • Do these teachers have experience and/or commitment to leading professional learning collaboratively with peers, within your school or across networks?

Embed a HIPL approach into the performance and development process

The department’s Performance and Development Framework requires all principals, executives and teachers to develop a Performance and Development Plan (PDP) to identify their professional learning needs as part of the performance and development process. The PDP is developed through collaboration and professional dialogue with colleagues and supervisors in a supportive environment. The advice for teachers page illustrates how the performance and development process can be supported using a HIPL approach.

Consider approaches that enable effective collaboration

High Impact Professional Learning practice requires a shift in mindset for some people – from professional learning being the result of attending a 'course', or the solution to a problem, to the establishment of a cycle of continuous learning embedded within the school context and timetable, where expertise is accessed at point of need. When teachers engage in powerful professional learning with colleagues, designed with the specific purpose of improving student progress and achievement, their learning is more likely to be valued and to deepen their teaching practice.

Each school will approach the question of quality time for collaboration with due regard for their context. It might include, for example, timetabling solutions, creative allocation of time in staff meetings and at School Development Days, team teaching, mentoring arrangements, shared programming and/or collaborative analysis of student work samples. To ensure effective collaboration, school leaders might like to consider the following questions:

  • How might you utilise funding for professional learning and other funding to embed professional learning time for every teacher into their day/week/term?

  • How will you identify the needs of teachers, and their students, to ensure this collaborative professional learning time is targeted and appropriately differentiated?

  • How will you ensure that professional learning is structured to foster collegial collaboration?

  • What expertise will teachers access during professional learning time?

School resourcing snapshots showcase examples of how strategic funding decisions have supported a range of high-impact professional learning initiatives.

Consider your approach to professional learning that builds the non-teaching capability of staff

Where professional learning is not directly related to teaching practice, four key principles for building an individual’s capability apply.

Use the Building non-teaching capability section in the School professional learning self-assessment tool to ensure that your whole-school approach to professional learning is inclusive of all staff and focused on both teaching and non-teaching practice.

Access system professional learning for the whole school

The department provides professional learning support that is compatible with high impact professional learning practice in schools. It recognises the role of evidence-based practice in strengthening teaching and learning and provides specialist input through online and face-to-face professional learning, evidence-based materials and teaching resources, support for student data analysis and specialist advice across a range of teaching areas.

Access the Priority professional learning selector to view a curated list of evidence-based professional learning from the department.


  • Teaching and learning
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