Enhancing teacher capabilities

Teaching quality is the biggest in-school determinant of your students' progress and achievement.

Three female teachers at a desk looking at student work
Image: Discussing student work in a collaborative culture of continuous improvement

Policy and context

The Professional Learning Policy for Schools applies to all teaching and non-teaching staff in NSW public schools. The policy draws on knowledge of professional learning practices gained from current research.

The policy recognises that the participation of your teams and individual staff in workplace learning, and in the wider professional context, is key to developing their professional knowledge and practice.


Leading the enhancement of teacher capabilities

Teaching quality is the biggest in-school determinant of your students’ progress and achievement, closely followed by effective school leadership. This claim is supported by a growing body of evidence around the world that shows that investing in leadership and developing teacher capabilities will make a substantial difference to the quality of teaching and therefore the quality of student learning.

As a school leader, you create the culture and structures that build an inclusive learning environment. You facilitate learning and growth in your teachers and classrooms, enabling each and every staff member to contribute their best.

The teachers in your school are critical in ensuring school improvement touches every classroom through planning and constantly monitoring, reflecting upon and adjusting their practice to meet the needs of their students.

The School Excellence Framework (SEF) describes the importance of excellence in teaching. It states:

  • teachers demonstrate professional responsibility for improving their teaching practice in order to improve student learning outcomes
  • student learning is underpinned in excellent schools by high quality teaching.

Professional learning in your school should be targeted and relevant to enable the greatest impact by every teacher on the progress and achievement of every student.

It is essential that the professional learning is of the highest quality and that the content is research-based and selected for its significant impact on improving students' learning and wellbeing.

Leading improvement

Leading improvement in your school begins by investing in the people you lead and providing diverse opportunities for leadership at all levels and for all staff.

High performing school leaders focus on leading teaching and learning and the development of teachers.

The School Leadership Institute (SLI) provides a development continuum that articulates opportunities for leadership learning through interrelated career stages. At each stage the learning focus is on developing skills, capabilities and mindsets to enhance leadership impact. This enables you to expand your sphere of leadership influence on the learning of teachers and students within and across your schools.

Image: School Leadership Institute Development Continuum

More information about the leadership continuum and how school leaders can lead improvement in their context and enhance teacher and leadership capabilities can be found at School leadership institute.


Reflective questions

  • How might you improve the way in which you critically connect educational research and your school context to the educational outcomes you are seeking to improve?
  • How might you lead a learning culture which creates a sustained and systemic collaborative culture to support student and teacher learning?
  • How can you develop your capability to use a wide range of measures to evidence the impact of your educational leadership?
  • How might you enhance your capability to motivate staff to engage with a change process?
  • What strategies could you consider to strengthen your self-awareness capabilities to lead to improvements for teacher and student learning?
  • How might you refine your core beliefs about the impact you want to have on student and teacher learning as an educational leader?


High Impact Professional Learning (HIPL)

The department has developed a framework for High Impact Professional Learning (HIPL) in your school. The HIPL framework:

  • describes elements that research has demonstrated to be critical in improving teaching and learning outcomes
  • will be used to inform revisions to the School Professional Learning Policy (a refreshed professional learning policy will be published in late 2020)
  • will guide you and your leadership team to create a cycle of continuous improvement for your staff to engage in regular, work-focused and evidence-informed professional learning
  • should be oriented, for teaching staff, towards improving their students' progress and achievement, as well as their own professional learning goals.
The 5 elements that make up high impact professional learning strengthens teaching quality and improves students progress and achievement.
Image: The elements of High Impact Professional Learning (HIPL)

Professional learning

Professional learning in your school should be:

  • driven by the needs of your students and teachers
  • collaborative and collegial
  • available to all of your staff and prioritised to further develop their capabilities to address student needs
  • implemented with regular constructive feedback to ensure the ongoing development and improvement of teaching strategies
  • strategically aligned to the school's Strategic Improvement Plan (SIP), and sustained over time so that new learning is continuously implemented over an extended period
  • coherent in its alignment to shared and individual learning goals
  • implemented, for teaching staff, with a focus on all participants being able to effectively plan for and evaluate their impact on the learning of their students.

Learn more

Find out more about School Excellence in Action.

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