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Hillbrook Anglican School Study Tour 2013 Geoff Newton



Introduction to the Study Tour 2013



Introduction The purpose for this study leave was to concentrate on what was happening in schools and classrooms outside of the Australian context. In short, to see first-hand what we could learn from other cultures and educational systems. Late last year, a report on high performing education systems in East Asia was published by the Grattan Institute’s Dr Ben Jensen. As an educator I was curious to see if I saw the same things in schools and classrooms that Dr Jensen saw from his perspective as a researcher at a system level. My methodology therefore was to visit as many schools as possible and observe the diverse ways in which people were organizing and leading schools, and in particular how teachers were operating within these schools and where possible their interactions with students in the classroom. This pupil teacher interaction is what the research says underpins all great learning and is one of our strengths at Hillbrook. To give additional focus to my school visits and discussions with educators I also took the opportunity to investigate four specific areas that I felt were important to our Strategic initiative of; “Being a learning community”. These areas are:Outdoor education Technology that enhances learning Leadership for learning School improvement processes My five weeks travelling were extraordinarily interesting and valuable. To speak to researchers, read articles on education systems and practices is one thing, to visit and speak to the people on the ground is quite another.


What I saw as I travelled through Asia and England highlighted to varying degrees the commonality of issues facing educators in this century. The personal insights and glimpses of the manner different cultures are reacting to globalization and political imperatives was fascinating and enriched my understanding of the importance of our approach to educating young people. The main issues I saw these education systems grappling with included: •The politisation of education. •The rapidly increasing cost of providing universal education. •The best models of providing a quality education. •The rise of testing as a means of evaluating students, teachers, schools and systems. •The concern over educating boys. •The crowded curriculum. •Quality of teachers. •How to provide cost effective access to technology.

In preparation I did a literature scan on each of the 4 focus topics mentioned earlier. This pre-reading is included at the end of this report. I have also listed the resources and ideas I collected during my travels. I have also identified a number of novel ideas to investigate further. I hope to narrow these ideas down in consultation with the SLT and staff to a manageable set of initiatives for our continuing work on ‘Building a learning community’. I have listed these in the further investigation section. One program that I did discuss with SLT and School Council before I left was a teacher exchange program. As I visited schools I discussed this teacher exchange program and the idea was met with great enthusiasm by a number of these schools. I hope to have agreement with a number of schools by the end of the year. The experience of visiting schools, lecturers and researchers was an enlightening and very enjoyable experience, a great contrast to my previous course based personal and professional development experiences. I thank the School Council for the opportunity, and look forward to enriching the Hillbrook experience as we investigate the ideas raised from my exploration of the educational practices of the schools I visited.

•Teaching for the future in a rapidly changing world. During my leave I visited Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai/Suzhou and then England. I purposely wanted to see schools in action and speak to staff and school leaders on their thoughts and practices. I visited schools suggested by fellow Principals, University lecturers and educational writers.

Geoff Newton October 2013


S ECTION 3 May 23-27 Hong Kong


Ms Christine Shain, Principal St Stephen’s Girl’s School 2 Lyttelton Road, Hong Kong Tel: +852 2549 1000 (Principal Office) Website: Email:

May 18 - 22 Singapore Dr Koh Thiam Seng St Joseph’s Institution 38 Malcolm Road
 Singapore 308274
 Tel: +65 6250 0022
 Fax: +65 6253 3640
 Website: Email:

Dr Jennifer Pei-Ling Tan, Research Scientist, Creativity 21c Literacies & Learning, Office of Education Research Singapore 1 Nanyang Walk, Singapore 637616 
 Tel: +65 6219 6179 | Mobile: +65 9184 8789 Website: Email:

Mr Lim Yu Kee, Principal Tze Mien, Vice Principal Bedok Green Secondary School 360 Bedok North Ave 3 (East) Mobile: +65 9799 4926 Website: http:// Email:

Dr Kenneth Lim (NIE Research Scientist) National Institute of Education 1 Nanyang Walk, (West) Mobile +65 9626 6808 Website: Email:

Mr Abdul Mannan, Principal Ang Mo Kio Secondary School 6 Ang Mo Kio St 22 (North), Singapore Tel: +65 6454 8605 Email: Website:

Dr John Kennard, Principal St Paul’s College 69 Bonham Road, HONG KONG Tel: +852 2546 2241 Website: Email:

Ms Yvonne Chan, Headmistress St Paul’s College Primary School 777 Victoria Road, Hong Kong Tel: +852 25468887 Website: Email:

May 28 – June 2 Shanghai Tom Reed, Director of Technology Concordia International School Shanghai 999 Mingyue Road, Jingiao Pudong Shanghai 201206, China Te: 8621 5899 0381 86 13918135894 Website: Email:

Mr John Todd Headmaster Dulwich College, Suzhou Suzhou Industrial Park 360 Gantian Road, Suzhou, China Tel: +86 512 6295 9500 Website: Email:

Mr Guo Xiong Headmaster Mr Fan Dean of Studies Shanghai Yan’an High School 1111 Mao Tai Road Shanghai Mobile: +86 1365 1676 136 Website:

Ms Lucia Xue, Director of International Office Suzhou High School Suzhou Industrial Park 360 Gantian Road, Suzhou, China Tel: +86 512 6253 0368 Website: en_dtlpage.asp?c=231 Email:


June 3-6 London Mr Michael Conn, Principal Bexhill High School Gunters Lane, Bexhill on the Sea, East Sussex Tel: +44 1424 730722 Website: Email: Email:

Mr David Triggs Academies Enterprise Trust Institute of Directors 35 New Broad Street, London EC2 Tel: +44 845 453 0069 Website: http:// Email:

June 7 Launceston Mr Matt Mitcheson Launceston College (Outdoor Education) Hurdon Rd Launceston PL15 9JR, United Kingdom
 Tel: +44 1566 772468 Website: Email:

Dr Mark Leather, Senior Lecturer University of St Mark & St John Plymouth Email:

June 8-10 Cambridge Professor Peter Gronn, Professor of Education, Head of Faculty Faculty of Education University of Cambridge 184 Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 8PQ Tel: +44 1223 767517 Website: Email:




St Joseph’s Institution The Singapore education system is quite diverse and is best explained by the following diagram . Its many elements hark back to its colonial past, and its complexity at first is confusing. However, if you strip away the detail it appears to be similar to our multi-sectorial system.
















Ministry of Education Schools (MOE) can be fully state controlled or autonomous. Autonomous schools can’t set fees but can apply for more funding for specialist focus areas. Schools must apply to be autonomous, and are successful if certain Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) are met. Both types of schools must accept all students: Ang Mo Kio and Bedok Green were autonomous state schools.





Independent schools also receive government funding and are usually mission or church based and were established early last century, St Joseph’s was one such school. Teacher’s salaries are set at MOE levels because they receive government funding, similar to Australia . In many ways both Independent and Autonomous schools are like the new Independent Public schools in Queensland and Western Australia or selective schools in New South Wales. The third leg of Singapore’s Education System, International schools are completely self-funded and usually run the International Baccalaureate (IB) courses in the Secondary School, as can independent schools. Salaries are market driven and many expatriates teach in these schools. Interestingly, there is a great deal of staff movement between the mission/independent and MOE sectors, and the general level of funding provides a very high standard of facilities for all schools, re6

sourcing levels are similar to Australian state schools. Class size is also similar in Years 11 and 12 but can reach forty students in the lower secondary classes. The educational landscape is a mixture of co-ed and single sex schools with International schools educating students in a K-12 environment. MOE and Independent schools, are usually split between Primary 1-6, Secondary 7-10 and Junior College 1112. Students exit Junior Colleges at around 18-19 years of age, a year older than Australian students. Males then do two years of National Service before beginning further education. This means males can be 25 by the time they finish University. I’m not sure how Australians would cope with this. Curriculum

dents gain entry to Junior Secondary College by passing the Primary school leaving exam (PSLE). Entry to Junior College is determined by the Cambridge University Exams (O and A levels), set and marked in England. A sample O level

exam can be found by clicking on this link. The system seems to differentiate students into streams at an early age. This is at odds with the more liberal view of a balanced education, embraced in Singapore. There is also a strong focus on innovation and creativity. I believe it’s a system hamstrung by an external exam system imported from England. This has narrowed the curriculum and teaching strategies. This also occurs in some states in Australia where an external exam system operates. Curriculum Innovation

The Secondary school system is (with a few exceptions) split into Junior Secondary and Junior College. This means that students in their last 2 years go to a separate campus/school to study up to 6 subjects including English, a Humanities subject, a Maths/Science subject plus three other electives. Junior College entry is based on O level results from the Cambridge University examinations. The system has multiple pathways within the Secondary and Junior College phases with a focus on early specialisation. Normal Academic (NA) students take four to five years in the Secondary College phase and can then go to Junior College (Years 11-12) and onto University. Normal Technical (NT) students take 4 years and can go to a Secondary College Polytechnic. “Express” students are NA students taking only 4 years to complete. There are also students who are attached to University Schools and do Junior College through the University. These students are selected on their marks in Junior Secondary. The K-12 curriculum is mandated by the state and stu-

My conversation with the SLT at St Joseph’s focused around the question of what makes a difference to your students learning and outcomes. It was noted that the O level exams narrowed the curriculum and students don’t naturally read widely and ask questions. They are results driven. At St Joseph’s students attempting IB courses in Junior College typically have difficulty with the Theory of Knowledge subject (TOK) and extended essay writGeoff Newton In Discussion ing. Efforts are being made to address this lack of critical thinking and in addition student extension work is being addressed in a few interesting ways. St Joseph’s has instituted a three Bedok Green School- Singapore level system for 7

Years 9 and 10. The first track is accessed by all students. Students attempting the second track, enrol in a personal interest course centered around the term unit, this is instructional and around one hour per week. The third involves a self-directed project based on an open-ended question designed through consultation between students and their teachers. Bedok Green on the other hand had a talent identification program designed to select students for extension work in an after school program plus enrolling them in external competitions. The school also identified Performing Arts as a priority and reserves extra funding for this. As a consequence they attract students with ability in this area. The school leadership believed that improved learning comes from a liberal curriculum involving the Arts.

M OVIE Introduction.1 Geoff Newton In Discussion

Classroom Visits The classrooms I visited were lively affairs with group work and collaboration evident. Teacher interaction with the class was excellent, students were polite and focused, working together was obviously the norm and the social confidence that most Singaporeans exhibit was evident in the class. I believe this is one of the strengths of the Singaporean education system. Interestingly Singapore has not focused on PISA results and international testing as a bench marking tool. Instead it was refreshing to see their focus on the whole child. They have also seen the benefits of working to improve creativity and innovation and have funded research and programs to improve this for decades. This slow methodical approach to improved outcomes in education is possible because it is an island state and the state has, direct control over teacher intake and quality. There is a general view that good PISA results will come from a balanced education rather than directing education to improve test results.

innovation is happening at system level (see comment at end of the Singapore section), but external exams have slowed change in the senior years. However much is being done at school level with schools free innovate and apply for grants to support their innovations if they are school-wide. Ang Mo’s Art and Drama focus is one such example. Extension work is also a priority in the schools I visited, and the idea of personal learning has some life in these schools.

Ang Mo Kai High - Singapore

The self-initiated research projects at St Josephs were a great idea as was a talent identification program. Our guide Dr Lim, as part of his research projects with schools, involved a Year 12 student on an accelerated program through a high school attached to a University. He was involved in the research and time was allocated in his week to do this research with the team. I’m not sure exactly what the assessment would be but the participation in real research was an excellent idea. 8

Ang Mo Kio High At Ang Mo Kio High I spent time in a Year 10 classroom that was inolved in a ‘Second Life’ geography research project with Dr Lim our guide from the NIE. The students were learning geography through avatars on 3 sites on ‘Second Life’. Quite an interesting experience! The premise of the research was to place students in virtual situations as an efficient way of learning about the natural environment. Singapore doesn’t have a lot of natural environment left, hence the

Hillbrook Study Tour -Singapore- Ang Mo Kai high School

ery of what they learnt. I also felt that the level of work from the textbook was quite simplistic. Teacher Professional Development and Appraisal The MOE sets the minimum standards and procedures for appraisal of staff but all schools have the ability to set their own systems as long as they meet MOE requirements. Most of these systems were interview based. All teachers are also interviewed as part of the appraisal system, and given a CEP (Current Estimated Potential), that indicates the position they may reach in their career with the MOE (on present capabilities). Work performance reviews are separated from the appraisal interviews for all schools. There is no central teacher registration in Singapore but all teachers go through the National Institute of Education four year degree program followed by a teaching Diploma. The Diploma followed by nine months in length. International schools have their own accreditation processes. The MOE has also career pathway for teachers that do not wish to follow the administration pathway for career advancement. It has three levels, beginning with a “Senior Teacher” position and this attracts a time allocation for mentoring teachers in their own department (HOD) level. The “Leader Teacher” position covers the whole school and is paid at Vice Principal level. A “Master Teacher” works at cluster level or system level. The criteria for the Senior Teacher position is school based and is not transferable to other schools, at each school a panel evaluates each application and there are no quotas.

research program. At the end of the lesson each group elected a spokesperson to deliver their findings. Though they may have been nervous, I would have expected a more in depth and confident deliv-

In general all schools matched Professional Development (PD) to strategic direction, some were very explicit. One school in particular has a very big focus on PD with teacher groups in curriculum, community engagement and ICT. Professional Learning Teams met regularly as did the whole staff to share practice. At Ang Mo Kio the staff PD ses9

sion revolved around a once a month, four half hour concurrent sessions over the two hours. Teachers presented their work and it was then internally published. This presentation and attendance counted towards one hundred hours of compulsory professional development that each teacher must do each year. •State Funded System Level Professional Development Included: •Teachers may do industry attachment by application from 2 months to a year. •Teachers were encouraged to have a Masters Degree in education rather than be subject specific. •Teachers can apply for scholarships to Columbia/Harvard/Stamford after eight years of teaching. •To further career pathways Heads of Department can go to University for three years and then return to school as Vice Principal. Technology All schools visited were provided with baseline funding for desktop computers. Schools are investigating laptops but all are looking at the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) model. Interestingly all advice teams believe that filtering internet content was the parent’s responsibility and all cited the unfiltered use of smart phones as evidence of the futility of filtering content at school. Use of technology extended to projectors in all classrooms (again baseline funding), with some smart boards in evidence. Learning management systems were mainly used as content repositories. Schools used Moodle and a mixture of MOE and privately provided Learning Management Systems. Graphics calculators were not widely used in Junior Secondary, as the Cambridge set “O” level exams did not allow their use, a classic

example of assessment tail wagging the curriculum dog! One interesting use of free software was to support collaborative learning using Google ‘Sites’ software. Jason Sharland has used this at Hillbrook in Year 9 Global Studies, but it also has uses as an e portfolio for students and staff. It is worth investigating this further as an alternative to the Mahara software we are currently looking at using for this purpose. In general, the use of technology in Singapore’s state schools was nowhere near what we currently enjoy. Having said that, there are schools of excellence such as Crescent Girls High that are funded to use cutting edge technology, and the International Schools have a strong commitment to ICT. Lecturer and Researcher Conversations The National Institute of Education (NIE) is responsible for all teacher education and in conjunction with the Office of Educational Research (OER) oversees school based action research projects involving a number of schools. Its annual budget for school based research is around 20 million Singapore dollars. I met with one of the NIE researchers Dr Ken Lim, and discussed his research and visited two of his research schools. Dr. Lim was very obliging and acted as a chaperone throughout my stay in Singapore. The NIE is both a research and teacher accreditation University. Degree graduates can study a teaching Diploma post degree that includes 6-8 weeks of practical teaching. Potential graduates are monitored by NIE and MOE to establish the yearly intake to Singaporean schools. Teacher’s in training are bonded for three years and guaranteed a job subject to satisfactory performance. Therefore Singapore has great control over who enters the profession. There have been a number of funded programs through the NIE over the last 20 years. It’s part of the Singapore Govern10

ment commitment to improving creativity and innovation, beginning in 1995 with “Thinking Schools Learning Nation” (TSLN) followed by “Teach Less – Learn More” (TLLM) in 2005. As part of the TSLN program overseas scholars were put into multidisciplinary teams in the MOE to explicitly teach thinking skills. In addition five teachers were sent overseas to look at best practice during 1995/1996 ready for implementation in 1997. Each teacher worked with one school and a small group of teachers. These teachers then taught others and so on (Cascade model), unfortunately this has had little long term traction. The current program, Teach Less – Learn More is now being evaluated.

Teacher appraisal was part of a teachers life with minimum annual CPD required of 100hrs. This is significant and compares to 20hrs in Australia. The MOE also supports extended PD, especially masters but only in specific teaching areas, again this targeted approach to improving teacher quality is something we can learn from. Interestingly the PD proposal we are working on for Hillbrook has a number of these elements involved.

tary approach to educational research. Dr Lim indicated however, a few problems with this approach: •Researcher lead interventions have almost all been boutique and are not scalable over large numbers of schools. •Once a project is complete the money and the researchers move on to another project, therefore the research process is not impacting to any degree on classroom practice. This weakness has led to a new research model that provides funds to different schools and clusters based on a common identified educational need or innovation. The process now critically defines outcomes and budget assistance. Typically after 2 years of research an implementation report is written and teachers in the cluster area inserviced in the innovation or new program. Interventions and research projects are now smaller and more focused.

Examples of publications can be found here. Examples of projects can be found here

Research NIE also has a research branch called Learning Sciences Lab (LSL). LSL looks to the future and what may happen in teaching and learning. On the other hand are the research group the CRPP (Centre for Research into Pedagogy and Practice) that looks at current practice. This baseline research focuses on what is happening currently in classrooms whereas LSL is looking to the future and what might be important for future capabilities. I found this an interesting complemen-


Singapore has put a lot of time and money into education particularly to develop critical thinking, problem solving and innovation. This focus has been the hallmark of the education system for nearly 20 years. The emphasis on research and the deliberate cooperation between researchers and schools is a very impressive model and while not completely successful shows that cultural aspects that militate against risk taking and hence innovation in the curriculum can be overcome. Singapore does this research based learning better than anywhere else I visited and is a clear leader in the field. Australia can learn a lot from this explicit strategy to encourage innovation in the classroom through state funded research. “Teachers as researchers” is their focus.

In summary there are a number of interesting things in Singapore that are worthy of further investigation. The whole state is geared to improving their education system. Singapore has no natural resources and so must rely on their capacity to innovate and to do this must have a highly educated population. They have achieved this better than any country I visited.

We can also learn a lot from the way they match supply and demand of teachers. There is one body that regulates the number of teachers that graduate each year and one institution that provides the pre-service training. The number of applicants is much more controlled and so is the quality of teachers. Australia can learn from this model. We have a vast oversupply of teachers in Primary and some areas of secondary teaching and no mechanism to regulate supply. To be fair reports have been written about teacher quality in Australia and how to improve it but as yet nothing at a Federal or State level has been implemented, though some states such as Queensland are moving in that direction, at least on the teacher quality issue.

There are a number of ideas that are worth exploring and include: • University school research projects • Students as researchers • Student extension and independent learning projects • Teachers as researchers

Students are keen to learn and have many avenues to pursue excellence. Technology was present but nothing extraordinary. Their system is in my opinion hampered by an external exam and cultural inhibitions around risk taking and collaboration that are being overcome. The diverse ethnic background is helping with this.




Hong Kong

Hong Kong while nominally part of China retains an education system that has its foundation in the English system. It has only recently redesigned its education system around it own curriculum, previously relying on Cambridge examinations as Singapore continues to do.








The Hong Kong system has a multi-sector education system and is similar in many ways to Singapore but has recently gone through a major change that involved reducing 7 years of High school to 6 years. The first cohort through this new system finished in 2012. There were major changes involving a more criteria based assessment in the early years of high school, but they still rely on external exams in all subjects for University entry. The system, like Singapore is multi-sectorial and comprises of state run schools, independent schools and grant schools (these schools are older schools originally started by various religions) but are under the control of the government in terms of staffing, capital and maintenance responsibility. The fees to grant schools and independent schools are nominal and cannot be increased without government approval. Independent Schools are also helped with direct recurrent funding and capital funding with the ability to raise funds as well, whilst grant schools must rely on government funds for renovation and buildings. There is a perception in Australia that our model of funding schools is very different from other countries. My sense is that each country I visited has a high level of financial support for all sectors. Finally, there is a significant International school presence in Hong Kong, anyone can apply to attend regardless of nationality. Teachers are selected via interview and all wages except the Principal are aligned to the government system salary structure. Teaching staff usually stay in one school for all or most of their careers as it is considered problematic for the teacher if they leave a school, other than for promotion. This entrenches many school cultures and teaching processes and as a consequence change becomes glacial. The advent of criteria based learning and assessment, albeit with external 13 exams, has moved forward slowly with little evidence of the changes

to teaching and learning that Queensland has made under a similar system introduced in the 1970’s. Teachers often didn’t have work programs or a unified department approach to how and what is taught, preferring to do their own thing, this may be a direct consequence of the external exam regime where teachers who get good exam results are highly valued. Exam preparation is very important, so much so that one month before their final exams (in June) schools go to a summer timetable with school ending at 1:30pm. This is to allow students to go home or attend tutorials to prepare for the exams. Staff remain at school and run limited classes and tutorials. On the whole classes are very traditional and at the two schools I visited. Teacher directed learning with students in rows was the norm. Interestingly, the Principal at St Stephen’s was a Canadian and has worked with such educational luminaries as Fullan and Hardgraves and has introduced quite a few changes including wireless networking, data projectors and two classrooms where desks were clustered for group work! In her second year she has introduced 70 minute lessons instead of 35 minutes (imagine that!). Playground space in both schools was very limited and students were allowed to leave the grounds at lunchtime. Both schools were typical Hong Kong schools in that no fees were charged and they were not selective. Enrolments were based on enrolment date order. Staff were very conservative in their approach to teaching and “Confucian” hierarchy was evident in the school and classroom. One of the interesting aspects to education in a very crowded city was the lack of playing fields and so sport was not a great part of the curriculum. The move to a Hong Kong accredited tertiary entry scheme has now been completed with transitional arrangements in place for the first cohort of students . An overview of the new curriculum can be found

Teacher Professional Development and Appraisal Professional Development in both schools is quite minimal and there seems no minimum legislated requirements. St Stephen’s staff meetings including professional development are 1½ hours in length once a month and curriculum groups have been established to oversee the three year strategic plan. These inter-subject learning teams are staff driven. The teams have completed quite a few worthwhile innovations including “Academic Conversations” protocols which are posted in every room. The St Stephen’s leadership team meets with Heads of Departments (HOD) once a month and their role has been upgraded to include policy development. HOD’s also appraise teachers on their classroom teaching but not against the school strategic plan. This really just consists of a tick and flick pro-forma with St Pauls School- Hong Kong classroom observation and a self-evaluation section. Beginning teachers are monitored by the SLT in their first year. Students must also learn English and Chinese, and are examined on both. Classes are usually taught in English.


Technology Both schools have data projectors for all rooms and staff are given laptops, but students use computer rooms. Both have an LMS in place but they are content repositories only. Students in Hong Kong have to develop an e-portfolio of information as part of their final year’s assessment. The software for this has been developed by the Hong Kong Education Department. It is the student’s responsibility to show what they have achieved and to chronicle their reflections on their educational journey. Bring your own device (BYOD) will be the way both schools go in the coming years. There really is St Stephens College- Hong Kong no other option for these schools, as they cannot fund the cost of school purchased devices.

Curriculum The “Global

Experience” program at both schools is impressive as is the Outdoor education program at St Paul’s.

thrive as they don’t require the study of the Chinese language. This requirement has always been difficult for non-Chinese background students but now native speakers are finding the written language component increasingly difficult. International schools also provide wealthier Chinese with a recognised qualification to use for overseas University entry. This option is very much sort after. Teacher registration is mandatory but overseas teachers find it difficult to access the Hong Kong state run system. They would normally teach in International schools. One of these schools, Hong Kong International School, teaches using the Harkness system at the senior level. It’s a fascinating process and requires students to be prepared to discuss a concept with each other in class through study at home. This system has been around for decades and is echoed in the recent “Flipped Classroom” concept of teaching. The fact that classes are taught in English must make learning difficult for many. Collegial department planning is not a high priority (again this could be a cultural issue). I did visit a number of classes in both schools and at St Stephen’s students stood and sometimes bowed before answering (see comment on classroom organization for the manner in which students learn and teachers teach). Both schools have excellent “Global Experience” programs, and incorporate their outdoor education, community projects and overseas cultural and educational experiences under the one umbrella. A great idea to look at for Hillbrook. Their Liberal studies program is also worth a look. Both Principals were expats and had connections with all sectors in Hong Kong. The Principal at St Paul’s mentioned the Harkness model of teaching, which I think we should explore in depth along with the flipped classroom concept.

As previously stated the education system has recently been reorganised for Hong Kong schools but International schools still continue to 15

Summary Comment The strength of the Hong Kong system is its accessibility to all. Schools are reasonably well resourced but the need to mainly teach in English yet also learn Chinese is a difficult balancing act. The teaching was very traditional in many classes and external exams were again a limiter to the curriculum. There were some very interesting ideas to further explore. The idea of a personal e-portfolio is a great one, (one we have looked at), as is their Liberal studies program. At a school level the Global Experience program and the Harkness model of teaching are both very exciting ideas. They would enrich our school’s offerings, and provide a more collaborative capacity building learning environment for Year 12’s. I am keen to promote discussion on the flipped classroom with staff by early next year with a trial by interested teachers. . Our introduction of Philosophical Inquiry into Year 8 next year could lay the ground work for a more formal course along the lines of the Hong Kong Liberal studies or the IB, Theory of Knowledge course for Year 11 and 12 in three to four years time.




The Shanghai school system topped the world in the last round of PISA tests and is a privileged system by Chinese standards. It boasts one of the highest standards of tertiary study in the country with a world-class university in Funan. Students begin high school at 12 and finish at around 18/ 19 years of age. The high school program is 7 years in length, 4 years in the junior school and 3 years in the senior school.












I visited Yan’an High School one of the selective Maths/Science high schools in Shanghai and spent a very interesting 3 hours talking to the Deputy through an interpreter. I complemented this with a visit to Concordia and that followed the American curriculum. Yan’an Senior High School is one of the top ten schools in Shanghai and is a Mathematics/Science focused school of 1500 students. Built in 1998 it is a showcase Shanghai school attracting only high ability students. It is also a school that regularly participates in PISA testing. Students are randomly selected from the cohort to do the testing, but they are selected for entry, so all have above average ability. A high percentage of students pass the “Gaokao” test for University entry. All classes are taught in Chinese, English along with Chinese are compulsory subjects for all year levels. High School is organised around two systems: entry to University and entry to workforce. If a student terminates a subject in their last three years of school then that exam counts for workforce entry, but only the four subjects studied at Year 7 are counted for University entry and all are equally weighted. If students are interested in studying overseas they usually repeat the last two years of high school before attempting univer17

sity study in their chosen country. The curriculum is quite nar-

row, and is outlined below. Subject Chinese English Maths Computer Science Physical Education Physics Chemistry Biology Geography History Music Art Politics

Year 1-4 C* C C C C C C C C C C C C

Year 5 C C C C C C C C C C C

General Comment Year 6 C C C C C C C -

Year 7 C C C C C O O O O O O O O

C is Compulsory O is Optional Technology All teachers have laptops and data projectors are in each room, nongraphic calculators are used by students. Computer labs are available for booking, but there is no school laptop program. The Science department has around thirty Physics Experiments - Gallery wall mounted concept models which are used to interest students in the investigation process. A very interesting idea.

In summary, Yan’an Senior High an austere school with a very focused, but narrow curriculum. There was little use of technology, which is extraordinary given one of the leading Yan’an High School, Robotics Students schools in Shanghai. Concordia International K-12 Co-educational School - Shanghai This school is a wealthy international school charging around $38,000 US per year. It runs on the American school system and like all International schools in China is for ex-patriots only. The facilities were amazing and it is also an Apple school of excellence, the main reason for my visit. The school is only twelve years old and as with every ‘private’ school in Shanghai and possibly China, the government provides capital funds and/or land for the school even though Chinese nationals can’t attend. I’m not sure why other than to help attract highly qualified overseas people. The school has had a 1:1 laptop program in the senior school for the last 6 years of schooling since 2001. It is now a BYOD school with a mandated 13 Mac Book Pro. Machines are re-imaged each year so students must back up material before going on holidays. The school has administration nights to download software only. I asked about filtering at school, but it is not an issue as the Chinese government blocks everything! But if this were not the case then 18

only light filtering would be applied at school. Parents no longer see filtering as an issue. Cyber bullying does occur but cannot be dealt with by the school other than the “responsible use” policy. Year 5/6 students use old laptops from the staff program but they cannot take them home. Mandating a specific machine make and model is really for ease of managing the yearly re-imaging and consistency of software use in class. Therefore, there are few issues related to hardware and software incompatibility. The IT department of eight looks after all technology including AV, help desk, parent issues and film and television including two green rooms and video editing suites. Loaded software includes Office adobe suite, final cut pro and specialty programs such as Geometer and Final Draft. If students use any other machine they will incur software costs and a levy of $100 per year. Teachers have Mac book Pros and will also have iPad minis (their choice) in preparation for 2014 when students in year 7 will be required to have one of their own. In short, Concordia are both BYOD and also BYOS ( bring your own software) where parents buy a machine but the school has administration rights to allow some limited software to be loaded. When they leave school each machine is reimaged and all school purchased software removed. The school has computer labs for high-end video work but no graphics subjects are studied so there is no need for labs in this area. Teachers are trialling iPads and Macs with Apple TV’s. Assignments and drafts are electronically submitted and marked (some even use audio annotations for this). The school has a purpose built Learning Management System (LMS) which they share with their sister school, Hong Kong International, but is mainly a repository LMS. On a more social note the school also

has an after school cafeteria that students and parents can access till Technology day. I visited, use of technology is the preserve Asquite withlate the each otherweek countries of wealthier schools. This digital divide was very evident everywhere I visited. This puts our 1:1 program of one computer for each student in Year 9-12 at the head of the peleton. In his book “Digital Fluencies” Lee Crockett makes the point that in a global society, students need these digital skills to be successful in their careers. The BYOD movement is gathering pace as the cost of providing devices by schools becomes too costly. We see that to some extent at Hillbrook but a move to BYOD here is seen more as a simplification of procedures especially around breakages and filtering rather than cost driven. Both Shanghai schools were in exam mode and therefore I couldn’t visit classes. What I did see were small groups of students completing assessments. Therefore it was hard to guage the dominant teaching style. The curriculum at Yan’an was very narrow and the student results were excellent, so I can reasonably assume that there was a strong focus on teaching for results, given the importance of doing well in tertiary entry exams. Having said this, there were some interesting ideas at Yan’an including a set of models in the corridor of the science floor for students to explore some important physical laws and theories. Concordia facilities were very impressive and their 1:1 program was best practice.

Teaching and Learning and Professional Development Teachers in Shanghai are on remarkably light loads. A typical weekly program can consist of fourteen lessons of face-to-face teaching, three of PD at the local cluster office and three student tutorials; a total of twenty lessons out of 39 for the week. The quid pro quo is that there are upwards of 40 students in classes. Holidays are about the same as ours but the teacher pay scale is much lower in relative terms. 19

Teachers must have a degree and teaching qualification and in their first year attend the cluster office for around one and a half days each week for professional development and mentoring. Salaries are organized around three categories, each of three years duration. On average teachers earn $20,000 AUD, a year a mid level salary in Shanghai. There are bonuses paid to teachers who conduct PD for others and teachers can get paid for taking extra classes. Professional learning was a strong priority at Yan’an and the Shanghai system in general. This is a model that supports new teachers and provides for systemic sharing of ideas. It’s quite centralised and something we do in a less all-encompassing way through Independent Schools Queensland (ISQ) and in State schools through Education Queensland programs. The model of less teaching and bigger classes is an interesting one that could work here (with modification) for particular year levels. Suzhou Visit I then visited Suzhou to look at two schools Dulwich International College and Suzhou High School. Suzhou Dulwich College Dulwich is an International School with a Chinese State School next door with which they share facilities. We currently have two Gap students at this school. The curriculum is the Cambridge GCSE up to Yr 10 and the IB for the last 3 years (see Section 11 for school profile). The purpose of the visit to both of these schools was two-fold:

Hillbrook Memorandum of Understanding

To develop a teacher exchange program. I was able to reach in-principle agreement for two members of staff to visit each school year for 2-3 weeks starting in 2014. This will be the model we use for all other schools. To look at the IB course in the Senior years and especially the Theory of Knowledge TOK course and the Senior Maths Courses. I attended a TOK class and found it quite interesting. As an international school the cultural differences are obvious in the classroom. Korean and Taiwanese students are very quiet and don’t enter into discussion easily whereas the western students are quite comfortable with group work and discussion. I also watched a problem solving class in Year 7, a short video and explanation of the activity is below. I spoke at length to the Principal about school culture in a situation where approximately 20% of staff are new to the school each year. The processes and induction of new Student Problem Solving Exercise teachers is very important in this situation as are school strategic initiatives. The school has a comprehensive improvement and review plan and this is included. The review process is inSuzhou Dulwich College student science exercluded in my precise reading file.


The model of funding for Dulwich College is interesting. The land is leased from the government and the buildings are built and furnished by a developer and then leased back to the school. The canteen, bus services and grounds are outsourced. The only people on the payroll are admin staff and teaching staff. This may be a model for the Anglicans to consider if we can convince a developer of the benefits. Next door (which is also a boarding school) the days were long starting with 6:30am wake-up and in school by 7:30am and back to the boarding school by 4:30pm only to return for self-directed study and tutorials at 6:30pm for 2-3 hours. The style of teaching was very teacher driven and dictatorial in nature. The Steve Wilmarth discussion school is selective, 500 out of 5,000 applicants are successful each year. It’s important for all students to do well as for many it is the families passport to a very different future if Steve Wilmarth in Discussion with their sons or daughters Geoff Newton enter University. Meeting with Dr Steve Willmarth in Shanghai I met with Dr. Steve Willmarth while in Shanghai after an introduction from Christine Shain at St Stephen’s in Hong Kong. Steve has coauthored a number of books with Heidi Hayes Jacobs a well-known international curriculum expert. Steve is currently working as a researcher and lecturer at Wuhan Normal University trying to incorporate some independent thinking and broader 21st century curriculum ideas with beginning teachers. He was quite skeptical about the great PISA results from Shanghai as he has seen no supporting evidence of great and innovative teaching but plenty of evidence of

teaching for the test. He was fascinating to talk to and here are some of his thoughts. Steve is a man of metaphors and the metaphor he uses to explain his views on learning involves a comparison between the Cathedral and the Bazaar. In his view, real and lasting learning is Bazaar-like, messy but in an organic yet loosely structured way rather than Cathedral-like where all is structured and ordered, with a few holding the font of knowledge while others kneel at their feet passively awaiting enlightenment. I asked how a classroom would look using his Bazaar metaphor, and he mentioned the Harkness model or flipped classroom as a model and a way to construct meaning. He has also worked with Howard Gardner of Multiple Intelligence fame and sees value in his Five Minds as he does in UNESCO’s four pillars of education:- To be, to do, to know and to relate. Steve is also trialing the use of Massive Online Open Courses (MOOC) with his students. MOOC’s are now available free through universities around the world or a nominal charge if certification is required or needed. Using a MOOC, students can follow their passion through an online community class via videos, blogs and online submissions. I can see great value in this for students, teachers and parents. It would broaden our learning community and provide opportunities for Year 11 and 12 students to experience online learning in an active way.


Concluding comments That’s about it for Asia; it has been a fascinating journey through three countries and many educational sectors. The good news is that we are doing well in the areas we need to, creativity and innovation. What we do need to concentrate on however is the need to remain focused on our uniqueness as a country and continue to develop those skills and attributes that are important for a healthy, balanced and fulfilled life. The focus on all three countries is improvement but the pathway to that is stymied by history, culture and the concentration on exam results as an indicator of excellence. We must not be seduced by point of time test results to the exclusion of other much more important life skills and attributes. You don’t fatten the pig by weighing it.


Bexhill High School Bexhill is an interesting school and relatively new. It was the beneficiary of a 2006 government program of developing 25 schools in 25 counties to promote innovative approaches to education across England. Bexhill was opened in 2010 as a result of this initiative and it is part of the state system.

















2014. I





No fees are levied in the school of 1500 students - Years 7-11. Students can complete their GSCE at Bexhill or attain a TAFE qualification before going on to “A” levels at the local college or alternatively enrolling in the local Polytechnic. The school is quite innovative in design and curriculum.

















School starts at 8:30am and finishes at 5:30pm two days a week and 3:30pm on the other three days. Students in Years 7 and 8 have 3 sessions of 3 hours in a day, one of which will be spare for study purposes and lunch. They are mainly taught in pods of 90 students in purpose built classrooms. No homework needs to be taken home. Each pod of teachers plans together and has their own prep room. Differentiation and personal learning can occur in these pods as the classroom is quite large and students can ask for help of any of the three teachers or a teacher aide at any time. Teachers teach around 70% of the week which is similar to Australian teachers.

Bexhill POD Lesson

Facilities are hired out to community groups and the fully functioning cafeteria and hairdressing salon are run as businesses. Funds raised go to the school.


The school is organised around a central covered space where a rolling lunch takes place from 11:30 to 2:30. Food is paid for by thumbprint using a credit system. Great idea! Curriculum The curriculum is quite different and is structured around pods of 120 students with 3 teachers and 2 teacher aides. The curriculum is organised around themes in 3 general areas: • Science and Technology • Humanities • Well being The process of monitoring student progress is very comprehensive and based on their potential established through tests in Year 6. Teachers indicate a student’s potential early in each year and every student is measured against their initial assessment. The new state curriculum due in two years will be a challenge for Bexhill. It will have external examinations only and be much more content driven. The current criteria referenced model that provides for school based assessments up to Year 10 suits Bexhill’s curriculum approach. All students have laptops but they are school owned and cannot be taken home. IPads will be introduced next year for Year 7 as part of a BYOD program. Wireless is provided throughout the school. Staffing Bexhill has the right to hire who they wish within a defined staffing ratio. PD is mainly home grown with staff meetings centered around PD. Teachers must teach a 1265 hr yearly quantum and there is an initial 6 step teacher salary model followed by a final 3 year band. Teachers need to show consistent student improvement before they can move into the final band. Teachers can earn from 48,000 pounds to 64,000 pounds in this top band, not high by Australian standards. However, after retiring, they do receive a pension for life based on

years taught divided by 80. In addition 3 years of salary is given as a lump sum at retirement. Teacher Appraisal will soon be mandated by parliament and bonuses paid to teachers who demonstrate improvement in student learning. The school has no staffroom and lunch is the same as for students, a rolling affair. Teacher prep rooms are for pods of teachers, usually 3. School Improvement The school has been examined by the Office for Standards in Education (OFSTED) and recently was given a fail in a number of areas. Failing an OFSTED inspection usually means that some teachers leave rather than be associated with a failing school. The school improvement plan is therefore centered around the areas where improvement is needed. The pressure on staff and Principal is enormous and since the last OFSTED visit which failed the school, the Principal has resigned. Technology A reasonable amount of technology was present in the school and the new data touch screens TV’s are in use. These are very impressive and we are considering them in the new Year 7 classrooms. They have a LMS and School Management system. The school also has very impressive sustainable energy practices. There is no air conditioning and heating is through the floor and biomass generated. Also small bore holes have been drilled down 100 metres and filled with water that heats to 10 degrees Celsius providing pre heating of air before further conditioning is required. David Trigg CEO of Academies Enterprise Trust Brian Caldwell’s second suggestion was to meet David Trigg, CEO of Academies Enterprise Trust. David runs 80 schools through a school based council system. 24

This is a trust like many others set up to run schools under the Blair government initiative as mentioned earlier. Initially 55 schools were targeted and freed from local government control. These 55 schools have become 400. In 2007 the Pathfinder program took the best practices of ten of these schools for use in other schools. The current government has decided to free all schools from local authorities control and to be directly funded by the central government. There are now two ways for state run schools to become Academy schools: -­‐ Sponsored Academies they have failed an OFSTED report 3 years in a row. -­‐ Converted schools: these are good schools who want to be more outcomes based and independent. These schools are State schools in the sense that they cannot charge fees and must pay award wages. They currently are directly funded with 243 million pounds of government money and have over 7000 staff. They are independent in terms of budgets and staffing decisions and to a limited extent, their curriculum. Currently there are 3300 Academy schools and 750 are sponsored. The current government would like all schools to become academies. Governance of Enterprise Academy schools is by 13 governors. Comprising of: • one local authority mentor • 2 parents • 2 staff • 6 sponsored by the trust • 1 principal • 1 member from the trust

There are also 2 students who come to part of each monthly Governors meeting. The governing body for each school is a sub-committee of the trust so are not legally responsible in the sense that Directors are at Hillbrook. The trust has very sophisticated data collection processes and David offered access to these for us to have a look at. The software has been developed by Mike Ramsay (an Australian based in Melbourne). Any school that wishes to join the group goes through a six week process before a decision by the trust is made. Many are not invited to join. The effect of becoming an Academy seems to be overwhelmingly positive for schools joining and while each is autonomous they also must continue to pass the OFSTED review processes. The group ensures through a variety of structures and processes that this will invariably happen. They use the Appreciative Inquiry model so each school is improved through attention to student outcomes and staff development. The website is a great example of how a diverse group of schools can have common goals. It was a long one but we agreed to exchange information to the benefit of both parties. They also partner with the National College of Teaching and Leadership. We are also now a member h"p://

My final question in my talk with David was: “What makes the most difference to learning?”, his answer: “Teachers make the most difference and to improve what teachers do in the classroom should always be our goal”. David was a very impressive educator and a privilege to talk with. I have put forward his name to the Anglican School Conference Organising Committee.


Launceston College This school has partnered with the local university to develop an outdoor education program, hence my interest. The visit was organised through a lecturer in Outdoor Education at Plymouth University. Plymouth partners with Launceston College to develop outdoor education in the school. They have recently become a stand alone Academy school by choice with Pupil Premium Funding. The school is traditional in the sense that it offers A levels and Vocational education to students in the last 2 years and the GSCE up to Year 11. I also had the opportunity to interview students about the outdoor education program offered by the school. The -­‐ -­‐ -­‐ -­‐ -­‐ -­‐

program includes: Year 7 residential (4 days) Jubilee Challenge - 48 hour challenge of varying length 10 Tors similar but in teams. BTEC Outdoor Course (Yr 12 and IB) Forest Gardens for special needs students Duke of Edinburgh

It is very comprehensive but lacking in cohesion across grades. There is no program for all students after Year 7. University students studying Outdoor Education help with the program at the school, a great idea. It is developmental and will mature with time. One of the interesting aspects of the school was their enrichment centre. It did both intervention and withdrawal and students with severe intellectual impairment were encouraged through the forest garden project to tend and care for a garden inside the school grounds. They were also involved in the Year 7 residential program and other outdoor activities.

Generally there is great potential for teacher exchanges with Launceston and the Principal is very interested in pursuing this idea. The fact that Plymouth University is close, with lecturers in this area able to access European and English thinking in the Outdoor Ed field is enticing for us. We on the other hand can share a wealth of experience and knowledge with Launceston. Cambridge University Visit I arranged to interview Dr Peter Gronn as he is the successor of Dr John McBeath whom Norm Hunter visited in 2004. The idea was continue discussions on distributed leadership through Cambridge’s “Leading for Learning” program. Unfortunately our conversation didn’t reach my expectations. However, the university website and the research area of the library was much more productive and there are articles and books to look at to further our work in “Student Voice” and distributed leadership or as it is now called “Configured Leadership”. Overall I was more impressed with the English education system than I thought I would be. They are still not world class but are moving in the right direction. This brings to an end the school visits. Every school I visited gave me food for thought and there are many ideas that we will need to sift through to see if hey are compatible with out culture. The following section lists possible ideas and areas to investigate.

University of Cambridge - Selected images


Most classrooms in England were very much like Australian classrooms. However, the concept of pods of 90 students at Bexhill was quite interesting, though required a lot of control and organisation to make it work. Staff would need to be compatible personalities and teaching styles similar for it to work. Students almost always work in groups and the noise levels were high. The plus for the system is the ability to separate ability groups in a flexible way and almost instantaneously within the very large teaching space. Students that are easily distracted would find the day quite frustrating. A very important part of teacher and school accountability in England is the results of their Year 6 aptitude tests. Teachers have to make sure that each year this indicative ability is matched with results. These results are recorded each year to gauge progress. Teachers can find themselves, as can Principals, without a job if the results and the schools overall have not shown improvement over time. The accountability issues in England are huge. I can see how this focus could have negative effects on the breadth of the curriculum. It’s been replaced with a more functional perspective on education. Gone are the liberal education ideas that were the cornerstones of a good education in days gone past. I quite liked the long day idea at Bexhill and could see the flexibility this would bring to a weekly timetable. Bexhill is experiementing with a digital library and so the physical one is very small maybe the size of half a classroom. I found that extraordinary and one of the few strong negatives about the school that I saw during my visit. Another issue for me was that students were on rolling lunch hour as were staff and I felt this would weaken cross year links, as well as staff collegiality. Launceston on the other hand had a Hillbrook feel to it and the staff and students were very friendly. I talked at length to the Principal and outdoor education teacher. I saw an assembly and visited the enrichment centre. I was also invited got on a kayaking trip after work on Friday by staff and the Principal (very Hillbrook). The research connection with Plymouth is one worth exploring as is their OE competition program for students. I can see a lot of positives in maintaining a connection with this school in terms of OE and teacher exchange. There is a great focus on VET in England and many schools separate students early on into polytechnic or academic streams. I don’t see the value of this in our context.

Overall England has made great strides in its education system over the last 10 years, but I it is still too outcome driven and top down regulation is a de-motivator and stress for staff and school leaders. The Academy idea is a good one and again we see echoes of this in Qld and other states.



creativity and risk-taking in the classroom. My guess is that cultures

Summing Up

that are Confucian in nature are not suited to risk taking and individualism, essential ingredients in any 21st century education. Yet even with this cultural backdrop what they have done in Shanghai and Hong Kong, and especially in Singapore, is a salutary lesson to educators in Australia. This slow structured change is much more effective than short term quick fixes that seem our lot in Australia. Any change process needs to be explicit and direct with a high level of professional and financial support, something that we are not doing currently.

Summing up

Politically, the Chinese are very interested in validating their system and use only Shanghai for their PISA testing. Shanghai is a large well-

One of the main reasons for visiting East Asia was to see if a non-

resourced city and the education system at least for selective schools

academic researcher’s views of the world, as expounded in the Grat-

is similarly well resourced. The selective nature of schools used in

tan Institute’s report on high performing East Asian systems was valid

the tests also begs the question of bias in sampling. Thus while Shang-

from an educator’s point of view. The economic aspects of these edu-

hai’s PISA results are excellent they don’t in any way represent China

cation systems were also intriguing. Did city states such as Singapore,

or even the whole Shanghai schooling system.

Hong Kong and Shanghai where the tyranny of distance was irrelevant and with high population and resource concentration enjoy a natural

The Singaporeans and International schools are more interested in

advantage? Was it in fact more valid to compare these cities with say

the whole person and programs in these schools reflect this broad

Sydney, Melbourne or Canberra rather than Australia as a whole.

view of education. Unfortunately they are let down by their assessment policies. Their reliance on external exams is, for the most part,

Surprisingly what I found was that these countries were collectively

a limiter of classroom practice but more problematic, is that it nar-

trying to cherry pick the best of our western system. As a result they

rows the curriculum offered at Senior levels. As a result, I believe

have a great many western educators directly or indirectly involved

that Australian educators, especially in Queensland have a much bet-

in their curriculum and teaching areas. This is, I believe, a tacit ac-

ter understanding of pedagogy and a broader and richer view of the

ceptance of the inadequacies of their educational systems, (PISA re-

purpose of assessment for learning, not of learning. I would argue

sults not withstanding) especially if you look for problem solving,

that this does not show up in PISA test results. If you want an exam28

ple of how creativity and assessment working

There were some models of teaching that are quite intriguing and if

together is evident in Hillbrook’s Modern His-

we are serious about “Building capacity” in our students as well as

tory multimodal assignment Ancient HIstory. I

taking collaborative learning to the next level then we need to en-

previously mentioned that the International

gage with some of these ideas, especially in the senior years. This

schools also look at the whole person. The In-

research would also support two of our four themes quite nicely;

ternational Baccalaureate (IB) (most Interna-

thinking centred and teaching and learning centred.

tional schools use this in senior years) does support a broader curriculum and I was impressed with the rigour of all their Senior subjects but especially the Theory of Knowledge (TOK) and Community Action and Service (CAS) subjects. We can learn much from this approach to curriculum. The concept of distributed leadership was not evident in most of the schools I visited. This model doesn’t sit comfortably with the way East Asian cultures work and this was especially true in China. It can also be difficult in international schools as staff are usually on 2 year contracts. Enculturating new teachers that can sometimes make up 25% of the workforce is a mammoth task.

The rise of results driven change in education is being felt around the world. East Asian countries see it as validation of their system of education and work hard to be seen as the best. In England it’s more about accountability to the public, and to justify the education budget. Both reasons drive a results driven curriculum and the use of International benchmarking tests such as PISA as validating instuments. The major outcome of this perspective is a functional and narrow view of education with a huge amount of effort expended to produce a set of acceptable results for each student. Unfortunately, a focus on outcomes exclusively will always narrow your curriculum and continually reinforce a simplistic, numbers driven system of accountabil-

The other surprising finding from my visits (I will include England

ity with a short term focus. History has shown that what is assessed

here) is that we are leaders in the use and access to technology in

is valued and therefore what is valued is assessed, an approach that

schools and especially in classrooms. This is ‘future proofing’ our

is the antithesis of a broad, problem solving open ended curriculum.

schools to some extent and I think its directly attributed to the gov-

This liberal approach to education is much more difficult to assess

ernment policy that supports the Melbourne Declaration on Educa-

and doesn’t have the short term accountability that education depart-

tional Goals for Young Australians ICT Statement. The collaborative

ments and governments now require. It seems governments cur-

approach to learning is also not well established in Asia and again this

rently believe that there is a direct link between testing and account-

is a ‘future proofing’ literacy where Australia appears to be taking

ability. They believe in effect, that to quote an old saying: weighing

the lead.

a pig, fattens it. Other means of evaluating education systems and 29

quality of teaching are more long term and qualitative and don’t al-

KNOW and TO RELATE at a high level for the good of themselves and

low easy comparisons across schools, states and countries.


One of the interesting and subtle outcomes of this focus on test

Finally, the move towards more testing and using data for measure-

driven accountability is the effect on teachers. The responsibility for

ment of teachers, schools, systems and countries is changing what

learning has always been shared between the learner and the

we do. It’s changing the educational discourse and allowing opinion

teacher, and traditionally this balance moved more to the learner as

(political) to replace objective data and research on how student’s

they matured. Unfortunately, this dynamic balance has shifted to-

best learn. Before I began this study leave I believed that testing

wards the teacher at all levels. It’s the teacher, curriculum leaders

such as PISA and NAPLAN were benign or neutral in their long term

and principals that are now accountable for the individual’s learning;

effect on curriculum. I now think that all educators need to take a

the personal responsibility of the learner seems not to be as impor-

more assertive stance to this form of testing. Students around the


world deserve better than a narrow, functional curriculum and mod-

If we are going to use this test data, as seems inevitable, then it is a much more desirable approach to view this test data as part of a com-

ern society should demand it. We need creative, innovative and well educated students to take their place in a future society.

plex picture of each learner’s educational journey. If the purpose PISA and testing was aimed at improvement and not as a judgment of what is being taught and a validation of educational systems, then there would be little argument from educators. Daniel Pink, in his book “A Whole New Mind” argues that we need both right and left brained capabilities for success in the 21st Century. Who could disagree! However we test, measure and report on the left brained attributes of students, we don’t test for the creative big picture right brained attributes. In other words, we value what we test, not test what we value. We appear to be losing sight of the real purpose of education, as providing a foundation for life. UNESCO’s report into education detailed its four pillars of education, best summed up by these words, all students need; TO BE, TO DO, TO 30


Ideas to Investigate further

Further Investigation

Curriculum Documents • International Baccalaureate CAS syllabus

• International Baccalaureate in Theory of Knowledge

• International Baccalaureate syllabus in Mathematics p%206/IB%20Programme%20Overview%202014.pdf

• Liberal Studies – Hong Kong

• Efforts to help weaker pupils bear fruit - MOE credits various schemes with helping them level up with peers By Stacey Chia, The Straits Times, 12 Dec 2012 pupils%20bear%20fruit.pdf

• Booklet 1 – The Student Programme to Achieve the Vision of the New Academic Structure – Whole-person Development and Life-long learning

• Senior Secondary Curriculum Guide – The Future is Now : from Vision to Realisation (Secondary 4-6) Prepared by the Curriculum Development Council. (Recommended for use in schools by the Education Bureau HKSARG 2009)

• St. Stephen’s Girls’ College School Improvement School Development Plan (2012/13 – 2014/15) 21st Century Learning Environment for Global Citizenship

• School Improvement Plans from Launceston


Programs to Investigate • Global Experience programs, Hong Kong Schools • Students as researchers, (NIE Singapore) • University/School research partnerships (using 3 legged approach) that must address: o School enhancement o University research o Student learning • “Pupil Voice” literature Curriculum and Teaching Ideas • Flipped classroom teaching model

• Structured Academic Controversy teaching model oversy-Strategy-Guide.pdf

• Harkness Model for Teaching o The Harkness Discussion

♣ ♣ nts/Harkness_Discussion.pdf

♣ mplementing-harkness


• Atlas curriculum mapping

• Electronic Marking and Submission o Scoris Electronic marking System

• Outdoor Education Competitions Curriculum Design • Discuss core, extension, individual projects as an extension/enrichment classroom model • Research Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) and how they can be used at Hillbrook o

o o o o

• Investigate “pods” curriculum at Bexhill High Professional Development • Research Charter school system in Scotland • Research “Configured Leadership” • Investigate Wellbeing index or Torrance Creativity test as a counterpoint to PISA and NAPLAN results • Examine Dulwich’s and ACER’s School Improvement Plan together with Prof. Hargreaves system improvement model (I hope to develop a “Circle of Practice” program across 5 schools and put this in place for early 2014)

• MOU for Teacher Exchange for 2014 Books and Articles to Read • “The Pig That Wants to be Eaten” John Burnham West • “The Global Auction: The Broken Promises of Education, Jobs and Incomes” by Philip Brown, Hugh Lauder, David Ashton • “Third Culture Kids Growing Up Among Worlds” by David Pollock & Ruth Van Reken • “Third Culture Kids The Children of Educators in International Schools” by Dr Ettie Zilber • “A Brief History of Everything” by Ken Wilber • “Visible Learning for Teachers” by John Hattie • Theory of Connected Learning by Stevens and Downes • The Five Dysfunctions of a Team Rb0FfgZ7jXL



Pre-Reading Material


School Improvement through Accreditation “Journey to Excellence in International Education” – The Main Guide to School Evaluation and Accreditation Council of International Schools, August 2010


Seizing Success 2012: Annual Leadership Conference – National College Chief Executive Steve Munby’s Speech National College for School Leadership


Improving Education Outcomes: Evaluation and Assessment in Australia Briefings, Independent Schools Queensland


An Observational Protocol Based on “The Art and Science of Teaching” Marzano Research Laboratory, Englewood, Colorado 2010

May 2013

Pre-reading for study leave Articles 1. School Review and Improvement Framework Overview A Resource to Assist School in Implementing the SRI Framework Catholic Education Office, Sydney, 2010 2.




School Improvement Framework - Better schools…better futures Raising quality and achieving excellence in ACT public schools ACT Department of Education and Training, ACT, 2009 School Improvement through Evidence-Based Practices Geoff N Masters School Improvement: What does research tells about effective strategies Australian Council for Educational Research Conference, Sydney, 2012 Endgame: a self-improving school system Professor David Hargreaves (Wolfson College, Cambridge) School Improvement: What does research tells about effective strategies Australian Council for Educational Research Conference, Sydney, 2012 Catching Up: Learning from the best school systems in East Asia Ben Jensen Grattan Institute, 2012


The Quality Teaching Movement in Australia: Losing Our Confidence, Losing Our Way and Getting Back On Track Australian College of Educators Phillip Hughes Oration, Canberra, 2013 Professor Stephen Dinham OAM


OECD Reviews of Evaluation and Assessment in Education: Australia Paulo Santiago, Graham Donaldson, Joan Herman & Claire Shewbridge. August 2011.

                       Books 12. A World-Class Education Learning from International Models of Excellence and Innovation Vivien Stewart 13.

How Children Success Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character Paul Tough

                       Instruments 14. Self Improving Schools Matrix School Improvement Progress Report April 2013 Leading for Learning – School Improvement 15.

ASCD – School Improvement Tool


ISQ Professional Standards, Reflection and Growth Tool - Implementation Report a. ISQ Professional Standards, Reflection and Growth Tool Survey

Link to  Hillbrook  Online  Pre-­‐reading  Material




A quick introduction to StemNrich Leadership for Learning the Cambridge Network National Institute of Education - publications   National Institute of Education – Research Brief English Schools & Cambridge University of Cambridge – A quick introduction to StemNrich Leadership for Learning the Cambridge Network Dulwich College Suzhou Senior School Looking for Learning Program Suzhou High School Singapore Schools Material Australian International School 34

Professional Learning and Review System Hong Kong Schools Materials   St Stephens Girls College   Global Experience Program   St Paul’s College curriculum Handbook 213.pdf   Shanghai School Material Concordia International School Shanghai High School Profile 2012-2013 Fees & Application Annual Report    



and a Final Word

“The illiterate of the future are not those that cannot read or write. They are those that can not learn, unlearn, relearn.� Alvin Toffler


Principal's Study Tour 2013  

The purpose for this study leave was to concentrate on what was happening in schools and classrooms outside of the Australian context. In sh...

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