Educational leaders have the privilege of setting the moral purpose, expectations, culture, as well as learning and teaching practices within their organisations. The 2019 ACEL National Conference will provide a platform for international and national speakers to share their expertise in the area of “Vision and Voice”.

The structure of the program at the 2019 ACEL’s National Conference has been redesigned to encourage a greater level of engagement and interaction. The program will now include interactive expert sessions, special interest group symposium workshops as well as concurrent sessions around the two broad streams, each further split up into two sub-themes as follows:

  1. Stream 1 Vision – leading the future
    1.1. Learning spaces – from architecture to pedagogy
    1.2. Curiosity & innovation
  2. Stream 2 Voice – engagement within and without
    2.1. Transforming practice through understanding context
    2.2. Empowerment & agency.

Presentations will address research, policy and practice from a system, school or classroom perspective.

Rooms 3+4: Level 1
The Role of K-12 Schools in Developing Future Employability

Presented by: Sara Ratner
Organisation: University of Melbourne

Participants will learn the impact K-12 schools may have in developing the future employability of their students. We will debate the validity of such a role and examine the influence of a school’s hidden curriculum in developing employability. Diving into the research, we’ll explore: What makes someone employable? How qualities of employability compare to those for a successful life? How those capabilities are currently being developed in K-12 students? Participants will then reflect on the "hidden curriculum" in their own school or institution, and will critically examine how they are currently fostering (or hindering) qualities that future employers may value. We’ll discuss which kinds of learning experiences may most benefit our youth when they venture into an increasingly complex and ever-changing world of work in the future. Applying what we have explored in the session, participants will have the opportunity to map their school’s impact against the list of identified qualities for future employability arising from the research.

Rooms 5+6: Level 1
Driving Communities of Practice efforts with student voice data

Presented by: Bronwyn Hinz, Mary Hutchison
Organisation: Melbourne Graduate School of Education, Pivot Professional Learning and Bastow, VIC

The Victorian Department of Education's Community of Practice approach, in which school leaders connect regularly to share knowledge, strategies and experience on shared areas of focus, is derived from evidence pointing to the benefits of inter-school collaboration for enabling and sustaining improved educational outcomes. The Bastow Institute for Educational Leadership joined with Pivot Professional Learning to explore how student feedback data on teaching and learning could inform and support COP efforts across schools. The initiative involved 20 COPs in the Victorian government school system, which differed in size, maturity, location and areas of focus. School leaders described student perception data as “the missing piece of the puzzle” and “invaluable” for supporting collaboration, learning, reflection and planning across and within their schools on teaching practice. Learn how COPs used student feedback data as a diagnostic and evaluative tool, to establish or deepen collaboration between and within schools, and embed meaningful student voice as a vehicle for learning improvement and engagement.

Stateroom: Level 2
NT Learning Commission: Students as partners in learning

Presented by: Dr Tanya Vaughan, John Cleary, Helen Butler
Organisation: Evidence for Learning, VIC

Educators across Australia are always trying new ways to improve outcomes for their students. Not all changes result in improvements. The Learning Commission provides opportunities for students across 17 schools in the NT and Victoria, from a range of schools, to engage with their teachers and leaders to both analyse trends in whole-school data and to be part of the design, measurement for impact and wider implementation of the recommendations they make. There are two ways that we can increase the likelihood of a change to lead to an improvement: 1) plan the change within the scaffold of an improvement cycle and 2) ensure that decisions are based on the best available evidence about what is likely to work. Making evidence-based decisions in an improvement cycle draws on both external evidence and practice-based evidence. In order to improve learning, schools need to access high-quality evidence based on empirical research to make informed decisions.

Room 2: Level 2
Turning evaluative thinking and evidence into actionable strategies for impact

Presented by: Dr Pauline Ho, Dr Drew Miller
Organisation: Evidence for Learning, VIC

This presentation will challenge educators’ thinking about evidence and implementation for impact. Schools have a fundamental role in applying evidence effectively to improve students’ learning impact, and student learning can be impeded if evaluative thinking is not harnessed to its best capacity to influence school decisions. Participants will explore the evidence from a robust "effectiveness" trial that tested if QuickSmart Numeracy program – a wide-scale maths program aimed at increasing automaticity and fluency in basic maths operations had an additional impact on students’ learning if delivered at scale across 70 classrooms and 23 schools in New South Wales. Participants will unpack findings from this trial, its impact on maths achievement and other cognitive measures, and how feasible the program was for school implementation. This session will provide participants with practical strategies to implement evaluative thinking in designing interventions and demonstrate how learnings from robust evaluations such as this can be best applied to ensure programs are implemented and measured.

Room 3: Level 2
Culturally responsive leadership in Aboriginal contexts

Presented by: Dr Kevin Lowe, Dr Cathie Burgess
Organisation: UNSW, NSW

Recent systematic reviews of a decade of Australian research in Indigenous education (Lowe et al., 2019) highlighted the serious mismatch between curriculum and pedagogy, and Aboriginal families’ aspirations for their children in school. This reflects evidence of Aboriginal student underachievement and the failure of successive governments to address this. This paper articulates an Aboriginal vision of an Australian model of culturally responsive and sustainable leadership to affect real change in schools. The four theoretical and conceptual dimensions of this model include mobilising Country, cultural inclusion, epistemic mentoring and teacher professional change. Listening to Aboriginal voices to understand the dynamic interplay between schools and their Aboriginal community, inclusive whole-school programs that embed Country in curriculum and pedagogy, and collaborative leadership that effects change in teacher professional learning and school structures is critical to success. This model supports leaders, teachers, students and their families collectively realise the potential of school community-led leadership.

Room 4: Level 2
Establishing Voice: A cohesive coaching-based intervention program

Presented by: Fiona Monger
Organisation: St James' Anglican School, WA

While schools strive to educate and foster wellbeing, a distinct number of students and educators experience academic, professional or personal attainment barriers. A pilot coaching-based intervention program, which identifies individual barriers and tailors coaching and goal setting specific to individual needs, was implemented at a secondary school. Uniquely, the intervention was applied to both students and staff. Individual performance and wellbeing increased as a direct result of the program, along with an unexpected positive impact on student educator relationships, and the learning environment. Results suggest that coaching-based interventions are a comprehensive yet resourceful solution to support and develop at-risk students and staff, which simultaneously develops institutional cohesion and wellbeing. Participants will learn about the practice and its results, with the opportunity to reflect and consider how to adapt the program for their school context.

Room 5: Level 2
Leadership in schools serving communities of systemic disadvantage

Presented by: Tom Brunzell
Organisation: Berry Street, VIC

When addressing student concerns of disengagement, dysregulation and resistance, school leadership teams must have effective strategies to implement through a whole-school approach. Arising from trauma-informed practice, positive education and wellbeing in schools, effective evidence-informed strategies have dramatically increased individual student outcomes. However, the next step is to lift these strategies to a systemic level to impact family-school connections and networks of community support. Learn the research on collective leadership through a trauma-informed wellbeing lens, and learn what you can do to embed these strategies into your strategic and annual improvement plans.

Room 6: Level 2
High-impact leaders in regional, rural and remote Australia

Presented by: Associate Professor Scott Eacott
Organisation: UNSW, NSW

This paper presents work from a recently funded Commonwealth Department of Education project on recruiting and retaining high-impact leaders and educators in regional, rural and remote Australia. Drawing on a series of scoping studies of empirical literature, a framework for high-impact leadership was developed. However, it was noted that there is a distinct absence of context in existing literatures. To address the absence of context, the high-impact leadership framework was combined with a relational framing developed by A/Prof Scott Eacott at UNSW Sydney. In doing so, a school leadership reflection guide has been developed to assist school leaders in their day-to-day work. This work was presented in a workshop with major principals' associations and then used as the criteria to identify case-study schools for high-impact leadership. The overall contribution of this project has been to develop a framework for high-impact leadership that is context specific and resources to help leaders bring this work into being in their schools.

Grand Ballroom: Level 3
Building Professional Learning Communities in Secondary Settings

Presented by: Cathryn Stephens, Shaun Wells
Organisation: Department of Education & Training, VIC

This workshop will explore the early implementation of Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) in Victorian Government Schools, via the DET PLC Initiative. We will discuss the methodology of the Initiative and the tension between maintaining implementation fidelity and adapting the approach to the secondary context. Drawing on the evidence-base for taking a clinical approach to determining impact (Hattie, Dinham et al.), we will reflect on the enablers and barriers to building teacher and leader capability. The session will largely be grounded in the narrative of implementation to date, but we will also pose questions for participants to consider about program variation versus contextual need. Finally, we will consider the importance of differentiating for adult learners who have varying levels of collaborative expertise. There will be an opportunity for participants to compare their collaborative practices with those highlighted throughout the presentation.

Meeting Room: Level 4
Stop Talking, Start Listening: Empowering Teacher Voice and Positive Change

Presented by: Tricia Allen, Melissa McMahon
Organisation: Pymble Ladies' College, NSW

Teacher agency is a critical factor in fostering teacher leadership and hence contributing to a broader learning culture within a school context. Therefore, when teachers become agents in their own learning, they are more likely to provide leadership to others. Both agency and leadership are processes that inform each other’s practice (MacBeath & Dempster, 2009). Where teachers experience agency to lead within their professional learning practice (O’Brien, 2006), it is argued that there is greater scope for growth and development, because ownership of and responsibility for one’s learning are fundamental to its value to the learner. Change is unlikely to occur unless there is teacher agency evident through a sense of ownership of the decision-making change process (Day, 1999) and unless it is shared. This presentation highlights the process and changes implemented/revealed at Pymble in relation to Professional Learning, moving away from a prescribed pathway to a differentiated model where staff are afforded the flexibility to empower their own learning.