The two-day premier conference will be held virtually online and feature an esteemed line-up of global educational leaders and experts.

DAY 2: 10:15 - 10:55
Mental Health Reform in Victorian Schools

Presented by: Justin McDonnell
Organisation: Department of Education and Training Victoria, VIC

The Victorian Government is investing $217.8 million through the 2021-22 State Budget in new support for schools, ensuring students receive the mental health support when and where they need it most. This will create a new $200 million Schools Mental Health Fund to support Victorian Government schools to select programs, staff and other support from an evidence-based menu that best meets their students’ mental health and wellbeing needs. The Menu will provide schools with opportunities to purchase support for initiatives that promote mental health and wellbeing, enable schools to intervene early to support students, and provide targeted support for individual students.

The new funding will also continue and expand the Mental Health in Primary Schools pilot to reach 100 schools in 2022. A partnership with the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, the pilot enables schools to employ a Mental Health and Wellbeing Lead, while also supporting staff to better understand and respond to mental health and wellbeing issues affecting their students. Evidence produced through the Pilot is informing larger-scale research and development of what works to support primary school students’ mental health and wellbeing.

DAY 2: 10:15 - 10:55
Leading with the Social Brain in Mind

Presented by: Joanne Casey
Organisation: University of the Sunshine Coast, QLD

Effective models for transforming schools provide leaders with strategies to be innovative in their practice and ways to test implementation impact. In this presentation leaders will learn how social brain theory can contribute to new understandings about the importance of the number and types of interactions taking place within schools. More specifically, schools today need individuals to balance their collaborative efforts, attention and energy across hundreds of students, parents, carers, and colleagues each week. The social complexity of these interactions can be underestimated, and the consequences go unrecognised or ignored. Leaders are encouraged to reflect on how they go about harnessing the collective wisdom in the complex environment of their school and consider how their current departmental structures and day-to-day operational demands contributes to an individual's likely cognitive overload, and thus, to a collective silo mentality as a protection mechanism. This paper shares six recommendations for leaders to optimize collaboration as a strategy to achieve strong outcomes for students.

DAY 2: 10:15 - 10:55
Understanding relational trust in educational leadership

Presented by: Professor Christine Edwards-Groves, Professor Peter Grootenboer
Organisation: Australian Catholic University and Griffith University

Relational trust is commonly heralded as foundational for leading development and change in schools. In this presentation we explore ways trust forms the relational building blocks necessary for forming and transforming the work of teachers in school-based change. We show how relational trust is experienced in five dimensions:

  1. Interpersonal trust – are you trustworthy?
  2. Interactional trust – can we collaborate?
  3. Intersubjective trust – are you part of the team?
  4. Intellectual trust – do you know your stuff?
  5. Pragmatic trust – is the work doable and worth doing?

While these five aspects are identifiable, in practice they do not operate in isolation from one another, or from the site and circumstances that influence development work in schools. In schools the ways leaders and teachers experience and build these trust dimensions forms the conditions for building and sustaining professional learning in the schools. In the words of Peter Drucker – “leadership is an achievement of trust".

DAY 2: 10:15 - 10:55
Evidence & self-reflection to lead an equitable school culture

Presented by: Rebecca Harris and Narelle Albert
Organisation: Dandenong Primary School, VIC

A vision to create a data driven school culture became a search for equity and social justice. How does data allow us to delve deeper into who we are, and why we may make the inferences and conclusions that we do? Sharing our journey of self-reflection on privilege, bias, and assumptions. Identifying the impact it had shaping who we are as school leaders, and classroom teachers in the most culturally diverse community in Australia. Engage with and discuss strategies to assist your own self-reflective practice using evidence as a foundation for having an open and inquiring conversation. Take an honest look at who you are and how it influences the way you build relationships with students and staff. Understanding who you are to understand others better.

DAY 2: 10:15 - 10:55
Curiouser and curiouser - curiosity, purpose, capital and student learning

Presented by: Wayne Craig
Organisation: Melbourne Graduate School of Education, VIC

The presentation focuses on research based on three inter-related ideas:

  • school curiosity leads to improved student learning as curious schools look for and implement the next steps they can take to improve student learning,
  • school moral purpose – seeking to get the best from every student – drives school curiosity and encourages the school to seek new ways to boost student learning,
  • school capital - everything the school community knows and can do - acts as a discriminator and enabler for curiosity. As the school acts on its interest and explores the possible next level of work to enhance learning, capital focusses on knowledge gaps. It helps determine the feasibility of implementing the potential next-level work.

School leaders will gain an understanding of the importance of workplace curiosity and its four components and how a school might assess its strength of moral purpose and reserves of capital.

DAY 2: 10:15 - 10:55
Leading Learning for All

Presented by: Heather De Blasio and Gavin Grift
Organisation: Wilderness School and Grift Education, SA

What if schools could become incubators of learning? And not just for our students, but for all our teachers and leaders? If we are to truly lead learning, we must embed a powerful language of learning in every layer and fold of our schools. We must be intentional in the language we use in the stories we tell and in who we are being, what we are thinking and saying and doing in the conduct of the work of our leadership, including our self-work. Drawing from the menu of 32 practical strategies in our book, Five Ways of Being, we will immerse you in a hands-on experience of strategies that can support leaders to truly make learning the focus for all, through leveraging the cultural force of language. These practical evidence-based strategies have been informed by research from both the educational and corporate spheres and adapted and crafted in our work with schools, teachers and leaders. We know they work.

DAY 2: 10:15 - 10:55
The Victorian Academy of Teaching and Leadership - engagement and accessibility

Presented by: Tyron Paspa & Sean Butler
Organisation: Victoria Academy of Teaching and Leadership, VIC

In 2020, the state government announced the establishment of the Victorian Academy of Teaching and Leadership, a new statutory authority that will deliver advanced professional learning for teachers and school leaders from January 2022. The Academy will build on the existing Bastow Institute of Educational Leadership, with a new focus on the provision of cross-sectoral professional learning for Victoria’s highly skilled teachers. Drawing on the latest evidence, the Academy will design and deliver specialised professional learning for Victorian school leaders and teachers to increase the effectiveness and impact of teaching and school leadership practice on student outcomes in every Victorian school. The Academy has been designed in response to Victoria’s unique education system context and the changing and diverse needs of our teaching profession and students’ learning needs. This presentation will cover two aspects: 1. The Academy’s approach to building engagement and enhancing accessibility to high quality professional learning as a key improvement strategy in meeting Victoria’s ambitious Education State targets. Fundamental to the Academy’s success will be the connection between metropolitan and regional Academy sites throughout Victoria, which will ensure high-quality programs are accessible to teachers and school leaders in our rural and regional schools. The Academy will address long-standing challenges in accessing high quality professional learning programs outside of metropolitan Melbourne which can also contribute to challenges in attracting teachers and school leaders. 2. The design and implementation of the Teaching Excellence Program for highly skilled teachers to strengthen and extend evidence-based practice across the state for teachers in all school settings. This dedicated professional learning pathway provides professional recognition for outstanding teachers and a career path that enables them to remain in the classroom where they can make the biggest impact on student outcomes. The presentation will detail the approach to design and implementation of the program.

DAY 2: 10:15 - 10:55
Leadership for student agency

Presented by: Lars Andersson
Organisation: Richmond High School, VIC

We recognise as a system that students need to have a sense of agency and ownership in relation to their own learning, but how can school leaders promote such agency effectively in their schools? Genuine student agency means that students understand what they are learning and why, having choices in relation to effective learning activities, and the support and time in class to reflect on their learning and understand what to do next. Leaders who are committed to this need a range of processes and dispositions in place, grounded in a clear sense of the lived reality in the classroom. This workshop will provide an opportunity for participants to learn about the core ideas related to student agency in the classroom, reflect on what that might look like in their school, and the opportunity to discuss strategically how that could be applied in their own context.

DAY 2: 10:15 - 10:55
Reframing Teaching and Learning Environments: from adversity to achievement

Presented by: Ben Sacco & Brendan Murray
Organisation: The MacKillop Institute (part of MacKillop Family Services), VIC

Research tells us that Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) can have an impact on the developing body and brain of a child, with lasting impacts into adulthood. This means the ability for a child or young person to engage in the learning process in a positive way may be compromised due to the negative impacts of stress and complex trauma. The Royal Commission into Family Violence (Victoria 2014-2016), highlighted that schools are a service provider that could better respond to children with complex needs. Our presentation will engage the learning process by enabling the audience to learn about building collaborative communities that shift attitudes, beliefs and behaviours about childhood adversity and hear about why schools are a critical system for delivering evidence-based interventions.  Secondly, reflect on current practice in schools and how to create safe and predictable learning environments, reframing our approaches. We will then deepen participants understanding of how to create the preconditions for improved teaching, learning and wellbeing and the application of research into daily practice.

DAY 2: 10:15 - 10:55
Creating a Trauma informed Community: Translating Professional Learning into practice

Presented by: Dr Elspeth Stephenson & Dr David Hicks
Organisation: University of Tasmania, TAS

The need to be trauma informed in educational settings is well documented. Educators need support to understand this concept and build skills to ensure their practice is trauma informed. Professional Learning (PL) is a critical element in this process but translating learning into practice to create school-wide sustainable change can be a challenge. This presentation will draw on a twelve-month study undertaken to develop a trauma informed community in a high school setting. The PL approach will be explained along with the statistical model developed to measure the impact of the PL on teacher practice and student learning over time. Evidence from this study showed that sharing results of statistical data as they emerged, proved powerful in highlighting the difference teachers were making to student learning in real time. Making this difference visible increased teacher engagement and showed to have a positive impact on practice. An opportunity to discuss these findings along with implications for practice will be provided.

DAY 2: 10:15 - 10:55
Four Measures of Social Impact: Supporting the Whole Child

Presented by: Katie McIntyre
Organisation: Little Wings, VIC

In May, 2021 Little Wings concluded a six month Social Impact Research project exploring the educational, medical, social/emotional and financial impact of medical aviation services for seriously ill children from rural and remote areas. The sixth month project provided insights into the lives of rural children and their families and the impact of services like Little Wings on their lives and their community.

Participants will gain insight into the practical process of social impact research and a brief look at the outcomes, along with a chance to explore some of the lows and highs, possibilities and pitfalls along the way.

Katie will share the process of exploring social impact in the context of any organisation, including schools (in which she has extensive experience as an educational leader) and how the findings provided by social impact research can enhance the lives of children, families and their communities and support the whole child.