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 International, has 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 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 (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 focussing 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: six days of face-to-face workshops plus four 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 face-to-face
  • Network Session 4 – twilight session


  • 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
  • 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
    • how current structures can be supported and developed
  • begin developing a school narrative focussed on enhancing the learning of students.

Workshop 2
Instructional Rounds

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

  • focusses 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
  • demonstrates 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 the 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 their 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 six 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 their school plan and update with Models of Practice.

Workshop 4
Participants will:

  • in a conference-style setting, present the Curiosity and Powerful Learning successes in their school and community
  • complete a best practice summary for each school and submit to ACEL
  • review the Curiosity and Powerful Learning Process and identify school and system suggestions for ongoing rigorous school improvements
  • network and share best practice within and between schools
  • 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.

'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

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.


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

  • October and May
  • Network session - April and August

Cost for 4-6 staff:
Year 1: 2x payments of $3625
Year 2: 2x payments of $3625

For further information, or to register, contact [email protected]