School leadership teams enable professional learning

Leaders create the culture and structures, including supporting resources, that build a cycle of professional learning; an inclusive environment that enables learning and growth in every teacher in which new learning is applied to teaching practice.

Key points

  • School leaders have a responsibility to create and sustain a culture of continuous professional learning for themselves and others.

  • Leadership that enables professional learning is underpinned by a vision shared by school staff.

  • Leadership involvement in teacher professional learning is essential to improving student outcomes.

  • Effective leaders lead by example and encourage and invest in developing the capability of their staff.

HIPL element 2: School leadership teams enable professional learning

HIPL element 2: School leadership teams enable professional learning

In HIPL enabled schools, school leadership teams enable professional learning that is based on a shared vision and purpose.​ They demonstrate commitment to ongoing growth and improvement for all staff as well as students. Sharing how professional learning aligns to school priorities captured in Strategic Improvement Plans and committing to embedding professional learning into daily routines for all staff contributes to building professional learning culture and structures.​ School leaders include themselves as a leading participant in learning and understand the impact of professional learning at a whole-school level to drive deeper and stronger practice over time. This may be supported through use of the HIPL school self-assessment tool to help leaders to understand the impact of professional learning.​

When school leadership teams create environments that enable high impact professional learning and teachers are supported through the strategic use of resources, teachers feel confident leveraging opportunities to work in small teams to learn together and apply new learning.

The department provides a funding allocation specifically to support professional learning. Other funding sources may be used to provide relevant professional learning within the guidelines of the funding allocation. ​

The progress and achievement of all students is enhanced when our teachers are actively encouraged by their school leadership teams to engage in professional learning that supports the needs of their school and individual students.

Why it matters

School principals and their leadership teams have a pivotal role to play in:

  • providing conditions that enable teachers to work in teams, learn from and support each other;

  • accessing and implementing effective professional learning, underpinned by research and evidence, to deepen teaching practice;

  • understanding the impact of this professional learning on student progress and achievement to drive ongoing improvement.

School leaders model their passion for professional learning by setting high expectations for themselves and their staff in terms of on-going development and learning.

When leadership teams both promote and participate in effective teacher professional learning, they create the conditions for teachers to build their collective expertise, working together to become more effective in meeting the learning needs of every student.

Key practices

  • Ensure you have a clear understanding of identified whole school and professional learning priorities and align these to your individual priorities.

  • Leverage opportunities to work in small teams to learn from and support each other to implement improvements in your classroom practice, to improve student learning.

School leaders:
  • Prioritise professional learning through a shared vision, clear alignment to school priorities and monitor progress for ongoing improvement.

  • Create the culture and provide the structures and resourcing required to embed high quality professional learning into school routines.

  • Facilitate learning and growth in every teacher which is applied to every classroom, including yourself as a leading participant in learning.

Illustration of practice

These examples are drawn from NSW public schools and illustrate effective practice in High Impact Professional Learning.

A review of professional learning practice at Birrong Girls High School demonstrated how professional learning for individual and teams of teachers is informed by student data (including HSC, NAPLAN, and formative assessment) and embedded in the school plan.

Leadership teams engage teachers openly in planning, designing, delivering and implementing targeted professional learning informed by data and emerging needs. This facilitates an explicit focus on whole school strategies, initiatives and programs that pursue excellence in pedagogy and student learning outcomes. They establish a mindset that prioritises teacher learning within the school environment. Implementation of the school’s professional learning occurs over an extended timeframe to enable maximum impact.

A review of professional learning practice at William Rose School revealed that school leadership teams and teaching staff consistently viewed teaching as a collective practice, and ensured a focus on several key initiatives that promote a collaborative learning environment.

School leaders and teaching staff run regular professional learning sessions for their peers to share expertise and better tailor practice to student need. Classroom observation and collaboration are commonplace across the school as staff learn from one another and together. Teachers also network with other Schools for Specific Purposes (SSP) to observe, and learn from, their practice.

This collective view of professional learning has meant that staff within the school engage in a constant and rich dialogue around learning, with ongoing analysis of student need and reflection on teaching practice featuring as a key practice of professional learning across the school.

“Professional learning and continuous improvement is the heart and soul of our community.” - Principal

Further reading

  • Read the research on teacher professional learning: Leadership.

  • Blue Haven Public School demonstrates the application of a formative assessment model to provide feedback to students, demonstrating how a whole school approach, led by the executive, can engage teachers in meaningful ways to ascertain student progress and areas for support and development. Read the Blue Haven Public School case study.

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