Curiosity and Powerful Learning

Two-Year Program

All schools, including high performing schools, must engage in ongoing improvement to ensure students achieve their potential. We must raise standards into the medium and long term and at the same time enhance the learning skills, the spirit of enquiry or curiosity of our students.

Successful school improvement must involve the whole school from the principal to the students and the school community. This program will provide an identified team with the knowledge and tools to embed an ongoing structure of school improvement.

ACEL, in partnership with McRel, have developed a two-year program providing school improvement teams with theoretical knowledge, tools and frameworks to implement processes to develop the pedagogical skills of teachers.

'Curiosity and Powerful Learning is a program that has given AHS a series of easy to follow steps that we can adapt and use in our context at a pace that suits us. It unlocks the latest educational research through practical steps, allowing us to recognise the expertise of our staff and improving consistency across the school in teaching and learning. Developing a broad team to work with CPL has exposed them to invaluable professional learning from Professor David Hopkins and the ACEL team, helping develop their instructional leadership on the way. Most importantly the CPL program is impacting on learning for students.'

Darryl Ward, Principal, Albury High School
C&PL Cohort 2

At the 2017 NSW Government Premier’s Awards: Recognising Excellence in Public Service, the Curiosity and Powerful Learning Program at St Johns Park Public School, was recognised  as a program, initiative, innovation or improvement that increase the number of NSW students in the top two NAPLAN bands (supporting the Premier’s Priority to increase the proportion of NSW students in the top two NAPLAN bands by 8% by 2019).

Curiosity and Powerful Learning
St Johns Park Public School


School leadership teams (4 to 6 staff)

Schools in the Curiosity and Powerful Learning Program will develop:

  • a clear and practical focus on school improvement
  • a practical understanding of the structures to improve practice by working collaboratively within the school
  • collaborative networks between schools
  • processes and content for professional learning within and between schools.

Teachers in the Curiosity and Powerful Learning program will:

  • improve pedagogical practice through focusing on targeted areas
  • implement supportive and collaborative structures
  • engage with clear methods and tools for improvement
  • network and work collaboratively to develop professionally.

'C&PL enabled us to reflect upon and refine our school planning. C&PL Theories of Action significantly impacted on leadership for change at our school. Our collaborative culture continues to build a collective understanding of how to change our teaching practice to improve learning for students and teachers. Members of the C&PL team have led professional learning of the C&PL Models of Practice and we have reflected on our practice through peer coaching cycles. As well, we have conducted Instructional Rounds with our C&PL partner schools to evaluate the effectiveness of the introduction of the models of practice, particularly Concept Attainment and Synectics. The three-year program of CPL has been highly successful at GBHS and we would recommend the program to other schools.'

Dr Linda O'Brien AM, Principal, Granville Boys High School
Cohort 1


Two year program: seven days face-to-face workshops plus four twilight networking sessions

  • Workshop 1 – 2 days face-to-face
  • Network Session 1 – twilight session
  • Workshop 2 – 2 days face-to-face (Instructional Rounds + Workshop)
  • Network Session 2 – twilight session
  • Workshop 3 – 1 day face-to-face
  • Network Session 3 – twilight session
  • Workshop 4 – 1 day
  • Network Session 4 – twilight session
  • Workshop 5 – 1 day


  • Curiosity and Powerful Learning – the theory and frameworks underpinning the program
  • Theories of Action – the 10 research-based actions identified in excellent teaching and learning
  • Models of Practice – six learning models for student learning
  • Building a sustainable culture of school excellence.

'Curiosity and Powerful Learning is helping us to drive our school improvement, as it directly aligns with our school vision. Curiosity and Powerful Learning provided the platform and tools to develop our school improvement pathway. By linking research to explicit improvement measures, Curiosity and Powerful Learning set the solid foundations for school improvement.'

Sean Scott, Principal, Glenroy Public School
Cohort 2


Workshop 1
Participants will:

  • examine the principles underpinning the Curiosity and Powerful Learning approach to school improvement and explore how school structures and systems can be developed to support the learning of students
  • be introduced to the concepts of Powerful Learning, Curiosity and Life
  • develop awareness of the big ideas involved in Curiosity and Powerful Learning
  • gain an awareness of the outline of the 2+ year program
  • understand the theory, practice and components of the Curiosity and Powerful Learning process – in particular:
    • ‘In-side out’ working
    • the school improvement process and pathway
    • the theories of action for teaching and learning
    • leadership and professional development.
  • understand how the theories, values and principles underpinning the program improve student learning
  • begin developing, or add Curiosity and Powerful Learning content and processes to the school’s improvement plan, including:
    • identification of Theories of Action being implemented, and
    • how current structures can be supported and developed
  • begin developing a school narrative focused on enhancing the learning of students.

Curiosity and Powerful Learning Workshop 1 (2 days) will contribute 12 hours of NESA Registered PD addressing 3.2.4, 6.3.4, 6.4.4, and 7.4.4 from the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers towards maintaining Lead Teacher Accreditation in NSW.

Workshop 2
Instructional Rounds

Participants will be involved in a non-judgmental observation of practice in a network school that:

  • focuses on the understanding of teaching rather than evaluating it
  • generates a series of theories of action that link teaching to learning, based on the observations
  • involves learning how observation can lead to the improvement of practice
  • creates a common language for teaching and learning within their school and across the network
  • identifies how to get the best from Instructional Rounds at their school.

Participants will:

  • develop a deep understanding of Theories of Action
  • learn how to facilitate staff development using triads to expand the repertoires of practice of teachers (and others)
  • plan and/or apply Theories of Action to Instructional Rounds at their school
  • review School Improvement Plan and develop structures e.g. a calendar or processes for implementing whole school or classroom implementation.

Workshop 3
Participants will:

  • develop a deep understanding of the 6 Models of Practice and how they can be implemented at their school
  • engage with Leadership principles and practices and how they apply to Curiosity and Powerful Learning
  • apply any new developments to NSW Department of Education to school improvement structures
  • review school plan and update with Models of Practice.

Workshop 4
Participants will:

  • engage in new developments in the Curiosity and Powerful Learning Process
  • apply any new developments in NSW Department of Education to school improvement structures
  • identify any issues that impact positively and negatively on the ongoing implementation of Curiosity and Powerful Learning and school improvement
  • develop a school plan for sustainable school improvement based on these explored issues.

Workshop 5
Participants will:

  • engage in new developments in the Curiosity and Powerful Learning Process
  • apply any new developments in NSW Department of Education to school improvement structures
  • identify any issues that impact positively and negatively on the ongoing implementation of Curiosity and Powerful Learning and school improvement
  • review the Curiosity and Powerful Learning Process – identify school and system suggestions for ongoing rigorous school improvement learned over the two years
  • plan for the future – develop a long-term school plan for Curiosity and Powerful Learning sustainability.

Network Sessions
Participants will:

  • develop a network-based focus for each meeting
  • share and review the school C&PL journey similarities, good ideas and mechanisms to work smarter
  • reflect on developments and resources shared with schools
  • develop a sustainable professional learning structure and culture for school improvement at a school/network/system level
  • feedback to ACEL for program support and development through the online community.

'The Curiosity and Powerful learning materials have helped our school become more strategic in our thinking and evaluative practice. I am truly glad that we have made the C&PL journey with David.'

David Smith, Principal, Fairfield Public School
Cohort 2


Professor David Hopkins
David has recently completed his school improvement trilogy with the publication of Exploding the Myths of School Reform; the previous books being School Improvement for Real (2001) and Every School a Great School (2007). David is passionately committed to improving the quality of education for all and has worked in policy, research and practice, both in the UK, Australia and internationally for over forty years. He has published around fifty books, helped to establish the National College for School Leadership in England and among a range of educational roles, he has been the Chief Adviser to the Secretary of State on School Standards in the UK, Dean of Education at the University of Nottingham (as well as a visiting professor at over a dozen international universities), a long-time consultant to the OECD and also as an International Mountain Guide. He is Emeritus Professor at the Institute of Education, Chair of Leadership at the University of Bolton and founder of the Adventure Learning Schools Charity. David was recently ranked as the 16th most influential educator in the world by the American-based Global Gurus organization.

Trish Franey
Trish is an evidenced-based practitioner working with senior staff to align their leadership development with quality teaching and learning to secure the learning progress of all pupils. An experienced head teacher, she took an underperforming urban community school to ‘Beacon School Status’, gaining national and international recognition for improving performance through an inclusive approach to staff development, ‘learning-centred leadership’ and learning partnerships with pupils. Trish has also led and managed a collaborative of schools as Director of an Educational Action Zone, creating teams, establishing business partnerships, initiating parental engagement programmes and supporting head teachers in raising aspirations, expectations and outcomes for children, their families and communities. Trish was also an Assistant Director of the National College for School Leadership’s Primary Leadership Programme and Consultant in the Network Learning Communities Programme and was involved in the design, delivery and evaluation of leadership and school network programmes. Working in Melbourne, Australia, she has been supporting the implementation of ‘Powerful Learning.’ This involved working at a regional level as well as supporting the development of leaders and teachers in schools.


Dates are yet to be confirmed. Workshops will be held in the following months each year.
Dates will be confirmed as early as possible:

  • April
  • October
  • Twilight session - March/June/July

Cost for 4-6 staff:
Year 1 - Semester 1: $4,125
Year 1 - Semester 2: $4,125
Year 2 - Semester 1: $4,125
Year 2 - Semester 2: $4,125