Curiosity and Powerful Learning

One-Year Online Program

For the past seven years the Australian Council for Educational Leaders (ACEL) has been sponsoring the internationally recognised Curiosity and Powerful Learning (C&PL) school improvement program in a number of states across Australia. This is particularly the case in the New South Wales where six cohorts of schools have been or are currently participating in the program.

C&PL is not a top down or prescriptive approach to school improvement, but rather builds capacity within networks of schools by providing frameworks and strategies to enable them to reach their educational goals more rapidly and reliably. As such C&PL fits well into most reform settings as it adapts well to a variety of educational contexts. 

Successful school improvement must involve the whole school from the principal to the students and the school community. This program will provide a team of up to 6 staff with the knowledge and tools to embed an ongoing structure of school improvement.   

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 increased 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 (up 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 focussing on targeted areas
  • implement supportive and collaborative structures
  • engage with clear methods and tools for improvement
  • network and work collaboratively to develop professionally.


One-year program + induction workshop

The C&PL program consists of a series of phases and a culminating conference: 

  • Induction to Curiosity and Powerful Learning
  • Establishing the C&PL Process
  • Instructional Rounds and Deepening Teaching and Learning
  • Instructional Leadership
  • Sustaining Momentum and Conference

Following the induction workshop, each phase consists of the following elements:

  • Centralised Workshop for the whole cohort - led by Prof David Hopkins. In these workshops, School Improvement Teams are introduced to the key concepts associated with the C&PL approach to school improvement. 
  • In school activity - led by the School Improvement Team 
  • Network Sessions for the whole cohort - led by the Director of Educational Leadership
  • Virtual Clinics with Prof David Hopkins



  • 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.

The Program as a whole is supported by a set of manuals that are available to participating schools. These manuals are written and designed to take account of the busy professional lives of leaders and teachers, providing frameworks and protocols for action based on the best practice and research evidence available. These are practical tools that focus on improvements in the classroom, school, leadership and system. Click here to listen to an interview of Prof David Hopkins regarding C&PL on an episode of Teacher Education Review Podcast.  



Professor David Hopkins

Professor David Hopkins is currently Chair of Educational Leadership at the University of Bolton, as well as Professor Emeritus at the Institute of Education, University College London and the University of Nottingham. David is passionately committed to improving the quality of education for all and has worked at the intersection of policy, research and practice for over forty years. Among a range of educational roles, he has been Chief Adviser to three Secretary of States on School Standards in the UK, Dean of Education at the University of Nottingham, a secondary school teacher, Outward Bound Instructor and consults internationally on school and system reform.

Despite two new knees, he still practises occasionally as an International Mountain Guide; over the years he has led 12 expeditions to the Greater ranges and was one of the ten British Mountain Guides to first receive the UIAGM carnet in 1978. David completed his school improvement trilogy with the publication of Exploding the Myths of School Reform in 2013; the previous books being School Improvement for Real (2001) and Every School a Great School (2007). He was recently ranked as the 16th most influential educator in the world by the American-based Global Gurus organisation.



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

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

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


Cohort 7 has been postponed to Term 4 - the new schedule of dates TBC soon.

Cost for 6 staff:

$4,990 (GST inclusive)

Cost for additional participants:

 $760 per participant (GST inclusive)

Email [email protected] for enquiries and to register or contact the Program Manager Sue Buckley at [email protected]