Illuminate, Edition 7 2022

Page 1


Knowledge for a better world Pymble Ladies’ College


Contents From the Principal........................................................................ Page 3 From the Editor............................................................................. Page 4 Our contributors........................................................................... Page 5 Setting the scene for Pymble people: reviewing our professional learning and development program...............Page 8 The Pymble Archibull Prize and program development: what will our planet look like in 2050?.................................. Page 15 First Nations representation in twentieth century local histories: From Gilgandra to Pymble ..........................Page 24 How can student voice be amplified by Year 10 Elective Geography students, so they are future-ready? .................Page 28 Brighter fields: the Global Leaders Mentoring Program ...................................................................Page 36 The Kindness Revolution: Empowering children to flourish as learners and leaders..........................................Page 39 Creating worlds of research in their school.........................Page 52 What works best in HSC teaching at Pymble?....................Page 60


Illuminate Research and Innovation | Edition 7 2022

Research is being done differently at Pymble. Putting students at the centre is one way we’re doing this but another is through where research sits. Research is, literally and authentically, in action every day at Pymble.

From the Principal In May this year, we held a research

This led to commencing our

It pains me that, at times, our educators

conference, albeit with a slight twist.

own research project on teacher

are not viewed in the same light as

Our hosts for the evening were Lucy

professionalism, motivation and

other professionals when I see each

Clark and Charlotte Hartin, both in Year

aspiration. Using the rich data collected

day how hard they work and the impact

11 at Pymble, and the theme of the

from focus groups, individual discussions

they have on the lives of our young

conference referenced students both as

and anecdotal feedback, we crafted our

people. Professor Twining has focussed

researchers and as subjects of research.

very own internal process which allows

on this question throughout his career.

Those in attendance may have noticed

us to recognise and reward teachers at a

His research indicates the importance

the shift. At Pymble, we have a phrase

higher level of remuneration.

of building research capacity and skills

that guides our thinking in all matters: “Nothing about us, without us” reflects our focus on student voice. Instead of adults taking to the microphone and telling students how and why research was important, we were engaging in a student-led conference with a program the fabulous Lucy and Charlotte had codesigned and run.

Research in this context means that our students receive the dual benefit of the College retaining excellent teachers, as well as findings of the action research our Pymble Plus candidates will conduct. The group piloting Pymble Plus is working on projects including ways of promoting flexible thinking in Extension-level Mathematics, methods

Research is being done differently at

to make Mathematics learning visible

Pymble. Putting students at the centre is

in primary years and the design of

one way we’re doing this but another is

learning environments that promote

through where research sits. Research is, deeper thinking. literally and authentically, in action every day at Pymble. It doesn’t always need to be “on” students and staff or “about” students and staff – it can be “with” students and staff to achieve practical outcomes that make a difference to the lives of our educators.

The question of teacher professionalism periodically raises its head. Professor Peter Twining, from the University of Newcastle, recently addressed the Research Invested Schools Network of which Pymble is a member. The Network is a collaborative group formed

One example is an initiative to support

by Dr Hugh Chilton and Dr Caitlin

our excellent classroom teachers at

Munday at The Scots College. Professor

Pymble. You can read more about the

Twining asked whether teaching should

conceptual background behind the

be counted as a profession when those

Pymble Plus project in Kerryl Howarth’s

working in this area are not always held

article in this edition. As our new Director

in high esteem, unlike our colleagues in

of Professional Learning, Kerryl has

medicine or law. The group discussed

scoped and designed a new way for our

the attributes of a professional and ways

teachers to move from Band 2 to Band

in which schools are promoting teacher

3 on the accreditation scale. This is an

voice and the ability to lead change.

area of great importance to me as I had received feedback from staff that the existing, external pathway to higher levels of accreditation was problematic.

into the school culture, and ensuring staff can access journals, research and professional learning networks with other researchers to keep growing and developing as professionals. This is precisely what we are doing through our Pymble Institute and the projects, conferences and publications, such as Illuminate, produced under its banner. Please enjoy this edition which shines a light on our ongoing commitment to action research across all areas of teaching and learning at Pymble, including the professional development and growth of our remarkable educators. Finally, my thanks to our professionals, our incredible teachers, who I have the pleasure of learning from and working with each day. They are inspiring, caring, knowledgeable and they are creating the next generation of women who will change the world together in important and meaningful ways.


We all know our educators are extraordinary professionals, inspiring our students, and each other, every day.

Pymble Ladies’ College


From the Editor In my role as Editor, it is always exciting to talk with colleagues and recognise and amplify the excellent work they are doing.

This year, our focus falls on the College’s

In my role as Editor, it is always exciting

Kerryl Howarth and Melissa McMahon,

Strategic Pillar, Academic Intelligence,

to talk with colleagues and recognise

current and former staff members,

and brings together seven articles

and amplify the excellent work they are

respectively, are immersed in the world

illustrating facets of educational research

doing which, with just a little nudge,

of professional development as leaders.

and practice. The articles reflect diversity

can be captured in an academic article.

They turn their gazes to exploring macro

of interest and approach, but at their

The process of writing is not simple;

and micro issues in teacher professional

core, represent curious mindsets and a

it requires planning, drafts, feedback

development. The benefits of mentoring

drive for innovation and improvement

and editing. This lengthy process takes

and global connections are apparent

through scholarly outlooks.

the educator into spaces we typically

in Debbie Tarrant’s and Kate Brown’s

don’t encounter in the busy, people-

reflection on participation in the Bright

Pymble’s strategy around Academic Intelligence is to generate ‘knowledge for a better world’ within our students. We aim to inspire students to explore what matters to them and see themselves in futures they may not have imagined. This is where curiosity is a vital

focused, high-energy day of the teacher. Field mentoring program. Kate Brown If my co-writers are anything like me,

additionally writes about her expansive

most of their academic writing is done

action research project into kindness

in the evenings and on weekends

which has been deepened through the

when distractions can (sometimes) be

lens of mentoring and through iterative

reduced! This is sacred time!

cycles constantly informed and shaped

For those completing PhDs, such as

the enduring virtues of intellectual

Ryan Stewart, who in this edition shares

tenacity and vibrant scholarship, we

his work into researching First Nations

celebrate our staff who role model for

histories, the work of living in worlds

On behalf of the authors, we hope you

our students ways to think critically,

of teaching and scholarship represent

enjoy this edition and feel inspired to

creatively and collaboratively, and ways

two sides to education. As you’ll read in

spend time carving out your own inquiry

to act with a commitment to action.

Ryan’s article, these sides come together

or research space. Education for the

The articles in this edition reflect

to allow students and staff to benefit

future requires a diversity of views and

educators’ own engagement in open-

from his dedicated research. Three

a willingness to both share and listen.

ended learning experiences and

members of our Geography, Business

In this spirit, thanks go to our readers

investment in their own learning.

and Economics Learning Area have

who are sharing in the endeavours of

They represent some tangible steps

contributed papers on topics they are

the Pymble Institute to drive thinking

towards thinking beyond the immediate

actively teaching. Debra Owens, Liam

forward for a better world.

and accepting the challenge to change

Hume and Raymond Howells epitomise

the world for the better.

the teacher-researcher; critically aware

Dr Sarah Loch

of the need for new knowledge and applying this to their practice.


by student interest. I also take a turn as

component in each girl. In developing

Illuminate Research and Innovation | Edition 7 2022

author by stepping back to reflect on the research culture emerging at Pymble.


Our contributors

Kate Brown

Kerryl Howarth

Raymond Howells

Kate has been teaching across

Kerryl joined Pymble as the Director of

Raymond has been teaching Geography

Kindergarten to Year 8 for more than

Professional Learning. Most recently she

for nine years. He completed his

15 years, since changing careers from

spent 17 years working at the Australian

Experienced Teacher accreditation last

law to education. In her career as an

International School in Singapore in

year, has a Master of Education with

educator, Kate has been a class teacher,

a variety of leadership roles including

Honours and, in 2014, he investigated

Year Co-ordinator, K-6 Literacy Co-

Deputy Head of Elementary, Director

teacher perceptions of high potential

ordinator, Deputy Head of Learning and

of Data and Development and PYP Co-

learners as a research project. Raymond

Head of Student Wellbeing K-6 prior to

ordinator. Additionally, in this time Kerryl

is passionate about cultivating curiosity

becoming our Head of Junior School

also worked across K to 12 in the area of

in the classroom, and creating engaging,

in 2020. Her approach to teaching and

Professional Learning and Development.

impactful and purposeful activities that

learning centres around the philosophy

She believes that students should be at

challenge all students. He is a strong

that each child deserves to learn in an

the centre of all professional learning

advocate for contemporary, solution-

environment which celebrates their

and hopes to engage teachers in

based learning in Geography to focus

unique strengths and where each child is

professional learning and development

on what is working well across the

encouraged to have a go, make mistakes

systems and processes which prioritise

world and how the world’s complex

and embrace their learning as a journey.

teacher agency, career progression and

issues can be solved.

Kate believes that a learning community

impact on student learning.

founded in kindness will empower each child to flourish as a learner and leader. Through a focus on kindness, Kate hopes to inspire Pymble students to be kind, not only to themselves, but to then share their ideas with others and positively impact their world.

Pymble Ladies’ College


Our contributors

Liam Hume

Dr Sarah Loch

Melissa McMahon

Liam has been teaching Geography

Sarah is the Director of the Pymble

Melissa is the Assistant Principal –

at Pymble Ladies’ College for seven

Institute, Pymble’s home of research

Curriculum at Oakhill College and

years since migrating from the United

and professional learning. She works

formerly the Director of Teaching

Kingdom in 2015. Prior to moving to

with students and staff of the College,

Excellence at Pymble. She has over

Australia, he was joint Head of the

along with academics from external

25 years of experience as an educator

Geography Department at Wembley

organisations, to create opportunities for across sectors and is committed to

High Technology College in London.

research which positively impacts the

teacher growth and agency. Melissa

Liam has held a number of roles at

lives of women and girls. Sarah gained

is fascinated by what works most

Pymble, including Stage 4, 5 and 6

her PhD in Education with a thesis

effectively for students in classrooms.

Co-ordinator and Acting Head of the

examining ways young adolescent girls

She is excited to be in the English

Geography, Business and Economics

select school subjects and plan for

classroom every lesson and is motivated

department. In Liam’s current role

their futures and her research has also

by the desire to ignite a love of learning

as Celestino Project Lead, he has

spanned ways of writing academically

in her students.

developed a passion for harnessing

and researching differently. She currently

the power of industry partnerships

teaches Year 10 Big History where she

for providing unique, real-world

loves helping her students with their

learning opportunities for students.

research and academic writing.

The partnership between Pymble and Celestino has been embedded into the Year 10 Elective Geography course. This program has been presented at the Australian Geography Teachers Association National Symposium: The visibility of Geography in the STEM field and its contribution to STEM education and It takes a Village – Realising the Power of Partnerships, hosted by the Australian Independent School Fund.


Illuminate Research and Innovation | Edition 7 2022

Debra Owens

Ryan Stewart

Debbie Tarrant

Debra is part of the Geography

Ryan is a researcher at the University of

Debbie’s passion for education was

Business Economics (GBE) team

Newcastle and a History and Aboriginal

evident from a young age when she

at Pymble Ladies’ College, she has

Studies teacher at Pymble Ladies’

would play ‘schools’ with her two

previously taught at PLC Sydney and

College. His PhD research is centered

sisters. She was blessed with a number

Roseville College. She has authored

around settler memories of frontier

of inspirational History teachers during

textbooks including the three

violence with First Nation peoples in

Secondary School, which set her on

editions of Geography for Global and

Australia and the representations of

the path of Humanities. Beginning as a

Australian Citizens, Geo Broadsheets

Indigenous peoples in settler-centered

targeted graduate in the state system,

and Macquarie HSC Geography

local histories. Prior to Pymble Ladies’

her thirst for adventure has seen her

Revision Guide. An experienced

College, Ryan was the Head of History

teach a number of disciplines and in a

HSC marker, Debra has also been a

at Moriah College. Ryan has presented

range of educational settings, including

Geography Teachers Association (GTA)

his research at academic conferences

Knox Grammar, Abbotsleigh and William

NSW Councillor and has presented

at both ANU and UNSW. Between

Clarke College. She has always been

student lectures for the GTANSW and

2019-2021, Ryan was involved in an

fascinated with the mechanics of

professional development courses

educational program in partnership

learning and is currently researching

for teachers through the Australian

with the University of Newcastle and

Talent Development as part of her

Independent School Fund NSW. She

the Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land

master’s degree. Debbie is thoroughly

is currently working as part of the

Council which aimed to educate

enjoying her role at Pymble, as the High

writing team developing the 11-12

university and high school students

Potential Learning Co-ordinator.

Geography and Geography Life Skills

about the true nature of first contact

Draft Syllabuses for the NSW Education

between First Nations peoples and

Standards Authority (NESA). She has a

colonists. This culminated in the

passion for pedagogy with a focus on

production of a short film titled Central

keeping both the content and teaching

Coast First Contact Heritage Project

of Geography current, whilst meeting

click here to view. Ryan has published

the future needs and aspirations of

in the History Teacher’s Association

students so that they can become active of NSW journal and is featured in an global citizens.

episode of Boe Spearim’s podcast series Frontier War Stories.

Pymble Ladies’ College


Setting the scene for Pymble people: reviewing our professional learning and development program Kerryl Howarth Director of Professional Learning

INTRODUCTION In 2022, Pymble is engaging in a process of revising and rebuilding its professional learning and development systems, as the College embarks on a year of creativity in this area, following interruptions caused by the pandemic. Before rebooting systems and practices which worked in 2019, it is important to determine if they still feel like the ‘right fit’, as the College comes to fully understand how teaching and learning, and the nature of work, have altered

He argues that it is in building a collective understanding of the “why” that we galvanise teams to a common purpose, through the co-construction of common understanding leading to the development of shared values and beliefs. Connecting us to the “why” creates a sense of belonging and psychological safety and is part of what inspires stakeholders to get on board and take action. Effective professional learning and

for extended periods has created a

development can be defined as

wealth of new knowledge surrounding

structured professional learning that

where and how learning can best

results in change in teacher practice

occur for staff, as well as for students.

that lead to improvements in student

As the College and professional

learning outcomes (Darling-Hammond,

organisations, such as the New South

et al., 2017). Psychological safety,

Wales Education Standards Authority

belonging and relational trust are three

(NESA), emerge from restrictions

crucial conditions for the establishment

which limited teacher access to formal

of a collaborative, personalised and

professional learning, there is a great

impact-informed learning culture.

opportunity to be creative and develop

This form of professional learning:

of new understandings and current research into professional learning and development. An essential first step will be to examine and redefine the purpose of professional learning and development at Pymble. “All organizations start with WHY, but only the great ones keep their WHY clear year after year” (Sinek, 2011).

Illuminate Research and Innovation | Edition 7 2022

to consider the why of their practice.

over the past two years. Working online

a revitalised system that takes advantage


Simon Sinek encourages organisations

• Is content focused; focusing on discipline or curriculum specific strategies and pedagogy. • Engages participants in active learning; teachers spend time working with strategies that use authentic artefacts which will provide contextualised learning that is embedded in the daily work of teachers.

• Supports collaboration; creates

The evidence is clear that students

time and space for teachers to

placed with highly effective teachers

collaborate in job-embedded

have increased school success.

contexts which lead to the formation Therefore, systems and practices that of collaborative communities with a

successfully scaffold and develop

culture of collective efficacy.

effective teacher practice, when

• Is deeply and personally rooted in teacher self-efficacy, “a belief in one’s capability to organise and execute the courses of action require to produce given attainments” (Bandura 1997, p.3). • Provides coaching and expert support with a focus on personalisation for teacher need, and the sharing of expertise about content and evidence-based practices. • Provides structured opportunities

implemented well, can lead directly to improved student learning outcomes.

PROFESSIONAL LEARNING FOR COMPLEX TIMES The importance of developing effective teacher practice is heightened by the climate and context within which the College operates in 2022. The task of preparing our students for success in a world with increasingly complex social, economic and political contexts requires teachers to go beyond the

for feedback and reflection around

development of knowledge and skills in

growth over time and next steps.

the traditional disciplines, to incorporate

• Is of sustained duration, giving teachers time and space to learn effectively, practice, implement, and reflect upon new strategies that facilitate changes in their practice.

the development of character and competencies that are required for success in an increasingly volatile and uncertain future (Kali, 2010). If the College is to remain true to its vision to prepare students to change the world,

As we take the time to review, rebuild

then it has the responsibility to prioritise

and reimagine our professional

teacher professional learning and

learning and development processes

development to ensure teachers have

and systems, it is important that we

the tools to prepare students for their

take the time to join those great

future, not our past (Schleicher, 2018).

organisations and ask ourselves the

Essentially, the knowledge, pedagogy

fundamental question; what is our

and andragogy (adult learning) that

‘why’ for professional learning? In his

the College chooses as its foci for

seminal work, Visible Learning, John

development will have a significant

Hattie (2008) identified teachers,

influence on the ability of staff to deliver

after the students themselves, as the

on this promise.

most important adaptable in school variables that can have an impact on student learning outcomes. The work of McKinsey (2007) and Coe et al. (2014) draw clear connections between the effectiveness of teacher practice and student learning outcomes.

An essential first step will be to examine and redefine the purpose of professional learning and development at Pymble.

Hattie (2018) revised his research to identify teacher collective efficacy as the single greatest in-school variable which impacts student learning outcomes. Collective efficacy is seen as the number one factor effecting student

Pymble Ladies’ College


Setting the scene for Pymble people

achievement, with an effect size of 1.57, making it strongly correlated with student achievement. This is supported by the work of Jenni Donahoo, John Hattie and Rachel Eells (2021, p. 43) who show that the beliefs teachers hold about their collective ability to positively impact student learning are ‘strongly and positively associated with student achievement across subject areas and in multiple locations’. When teachers believe in the power of the collective to make a difference for students, student learning outcomes are increased. Belief on its own, however, is not enough. Teachers’ work needs to be fed by evidence of impact (Donohoo, Hattie and Eells, 2021). In a selfperpetuating cycle, the more teachers working collectively can see the positive impact of their endeavours to improve student learning, the greater their belief will be that they can continue to make a difference in the future.

There is a clear connection between teacher job satisfaction, teacher wellbeing and student performance (Ortan, Simut and Simut, 2021). Teachers who have high self-efficacy, and who believe they have access to strong career growth and progression, are more likely to deliver high student learning outcomes. Professional learning and development opportunities which allow teachers to grow their practice and pedagogy in a way that delivers positive education outcomes for students, increases their self-efficacy, which in turn, increases teachers’ sense of job satisfaction and wellbeing. Effective collaboration with colleagues, where teachers have agency over collegial grouping, increases job satisfaction, as shared practice and experience works to build self-efficacy at a faster pace. Additionally, high levels of teacher satisfaction is demonstrated by those who have access to career pathways and progression, as well as opportunities to engage in professional learning that grows their career potential.

STUDENT-CENTRED LEARNING DESIGN Keeping students at the centre is naturally the primary purpose for

To answer Simon Sinek, our ‘why?’ is

professional learning and development

ultimately twofold. Firstly, to develop the

make a difference for students. Fullan and Hargreaves introduce three types of capital: • Human Capital: The talent, ability and skill of the staff within a school. In particular, human capital refers to the subject knowledge, understanding of pedagogy, and teachers’ ability to combine these effectively in the classroom for high impact. • Social Capital: The multiple ways in which teachers and leaders within a school collaborate to make a difference to student learning in a collegial and supportive culture. • Decisional Capital: The capability of teachers and leaders to draw on their knowledge and expertise, alongside the knowledge and expertise of their colleagues, to collectively and individually make effective decisions that positively impact student learning. Essentially, this is the ability to put Human Capital and Social Capital to good use. In re-imagining the professional learning

also serve the learning needs of our

and development processes and systems skills and expertise of our staff to provide at Pymble, it is important to ensure that individually and collectively for the best staff are provided with opportunities to

staff. Pymble, and most importantly,

possible student learning outcomes.

develop and hone their knowledge and

the students, benefit from the richness

Secondly, to nurture and develop the

expertise. This occurs through processes

of expertise and diversity of experience

careers of our staff, as a key to job

that nurture personal professional growth

which our staff bring to the College.

satisfaction and wellbeing (Sinek, 2011).

over time that are matched to experience

Alongside the moral imperative to grow

After establishing the clarity of why,

and career stage. Additionally, systems

the capacity of staff to positively impact

Sinek (2011) directs us to develop the

and processes will need to prioritise

the learning outcomes of students, the

discipline of the how. Thus, the question

time and space for collaboration around

College also has the responsibility to

unfurls: how is the College ensuring

student learning, planning and pedagogy.

provide a rich, diverse and differentiated

that we fulfil the twofold purposes of

Embedding structures that facilitate

system of professional learning and

professional learning and development?

teachers’ learning with and from each

development that fulfils and sustains

In 2012, Fullan and Hargreaves

other will encourage a culture of self

career progression across multiple and

wrote about harnessing the power

and collective efficacy by increasing the

diverse pathways.

of professional capital to grow the

decisional capital of the team.

at Pymble. However, any system must



capacity of teachers and schools to

Illuminate Research and Innovation | Edition 7 2022

Everything you say and everything you do has to prove what you believe. A WHY is just a belief. That’s all it is. HOWs are the actions you take to realize that belief. And WHATs are the results of those actions (Sinek, 2011).

Many teachers were equally interested in the style of professional learning opportunities, preferring learning that was collaborative, ongoing and personalised to their needs.

DESIGNING FOR DEEP PROFESSIONAL LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT Jim Knight (2018) introduces the idea of developing a deep professional learning and development culture, in which teachers are engaged in evidence-based and research-informed professional learning, with success measured by impact on student learning. The key hallmarks of such a culture include coaching, collaboration,


co-construction and relational trust. Students are brought to the centre through the inclusion of student voice data as well as student-centred goals.

understanding of the underlying principles of the professional learning and development culture sits the need to take actions which nurture multiple pathways and processes that honour and respect the varying career stages and talents of our staff. The Pymble 2022 Professional Learning Survey for Academic Staff highlighted three key pathways and focus areas for teachers

Less like Surface Level Professional Learning

More Like Deep Professional Learning

Teacher-focused goals

Student-focused goals

Relationship-focused: Prioritises maintaining friendly relationships over challenging conversations in relation to teacher practice

Improvement-focused: Pivots off robust, evidence-based conversations around teacher practice

Minor adaptations to practice with no significant or major changes

Changes assumptions to existing practice. May challenge existing beliefs and values and lead to significant difference for students

Superficial reflection and evidencing of change which ends at a set point in time

Reflective, ongoing, collaborative and evidence-based process that continues until goals are met

Prioritises voice of the teacher

The voices of the collective are heard – students, teachers, colleagues etc

in their professional development. These were: • Leadership development pathway for career leaders in Education • Cross-curriculum learning for best practice in program development • Professional Learning based on research into cross-school concepts, such as “cultures of thinking” and First Nations perspectives, for enhancing teaching delivery and

Table 1: Principles of Deep Professional Learning and Development (adapted from Knight, 2018)

practice in the classroom.

Pymble Ladies’ College


Setting the scene for Pymble people

The College has responsibility for onboarding staff in structures and processes which facilitate deep professional learning and development as a conduit for growing their capacity in meaningful, career-fulfilling ways that cycle back to impact on student

of key understandings, joint projects and action research

and goals of the individual, group and/or project. Matching the chosen action to its

• Ring fencing time for College-wide, collaborative professional learning on staff-only days

purpose gives teachers and teams agency to engage in actions that will best support their initial learning, as well as providing structures which scaffold implementation,

• Creating formal coaching

reflection, and the measurement of

learning outcomes. Some of those

relationships, where goals are

impact on student learning. It should

changes can be embedded into the

co-constructed and supported

also encourage greater creativity and

architecture of the organisation and

through meaningful, evidence-

collective efficacy as teachers and teams

could include:

based conversations around

work in collaboration to design their

teacher practice.

professional learning journey.

• Reimagining meetings and communications, to minimise time

Others could be formulated into a ‘toolkit’

Some of the routines of practice which

spent on administration and event

of actions from which teachers and

could be included in the professional

organisation, to maximise time on

teams can choose to differentiate their

learning and development toolkit are

collaboration and co-construction

actions according to the needs

outlined in the table below:




Professional Learning Courses

• Teacher learning from internal and external experts

• Seed new ideas around key concepts such as pedagogy, curriculum and wellbeing

• Online or in person • One-off course or learning over a more extended period, with the opportunity to trial new ideas

Tertiary Study/ Long Term Course

• Teacher learning from experts in specialised fields and applying the learning in an ongoing manner

• Indepth learning in specialised fields over extended periods of time

Action Research/ Teacher Inquiry

• Teachers conduct research into a question or problem of practice connected to student needs

• To build personal or group understanding around effective teaching and learning practices and develop impactful implementation over time

• Teachers follow a cycle of Planning, Action, Analysis and Conclusion Teacher Inquiry Groups

• Small groups of teachers conduct research into a common area of interest connected to identified areas of student need • Teachers structure their learning around an inquiry cycle, measuring their success against impact on student learning outcomes

• To build common understanding around effective teaching and learning practices and develop impactful implementation over time, with multiple teachers

Table 2: Routines of practice which could be included in professional learning and development to differentiate learning according to teacher need


Illuminate Research and Innovation | Edition 7 2022




Instructional Coaching

• Adapting the coaching style to match the situation for the intended outcome, e.g.

• Supporting teachers to become the best version of themselves and being committed to continuous and measurable improvement

– Facilitative: Coaches encourage teachers to share their ideas openly – Directive: Coach transfers specialised knowledge to the teacher – Dialogical: Coach shares strategies and options for improvements provisionally and helps teachers describe precisely both what it is they want to achieve and how to get there Co-Teaching Cycle

• A teaching partnership works together to co-plan, co-teach, co-assess and co-reflect on a lesson or series of lessons

• Collaboratively practice applying and evaluating the impact of a targeted teaching strategy or lesson structure

Teaching Sprints

• There are three distinct phases: Prepare, Sprint and Review

• To improve teacher practice in highly specific areas of student learning, in focused, manageable chunks of time

– Prepare: Teams engage in rich dialogue about their practice and consider relevant research to identify a precise strategy to improve – Sprint: Intentionally practise target strategy over a period of 2 to 4 weeks, adjusting as you go – Review: Engage in explicit review involving the analysis of impact evidence and consideration of how to transfer new pedagogical knowledge and skills into future practice Lesson Observations Focus on students

• Observe teacher identified student or group of students

Lesson Observations Focus on teacher

• Observe teacher identified element of practice or lesson segment

• Understand the impact of a targeted teaching strategy or learning engagement on specific students • Gain feedback on current reality and/or progress to date

• Understand effectiveness of a teacher identified teaching strategy • Gain feedback on current reality and/or progress to date

Table 2: Routines of practice which could be included in professional learning and development to differentiate learning according to teacher need

Pymble Ladies’ College


Setting the scene for Pymble people



As Pymble engages in the process of

Ultimately, engaging in professional

revising and rebuilding its professional

learning and development practices

learning and development practices

which keep students at the centre,

following the interruptions brought

should facilitate a two-fold impact on

about by COVID-19, the concepts

the College. As the self and collective

that underpin the idea of professional

efficacy of the staff grows, there should

capital will provide a strong foundation.

be a direct impact on student learning

Systems and processes that grow and

outcomes. Additionally, having nurtured

nurture the expertise of our staff, while

and cared for the career journeys

providing them with formal and informal

entrusted to its care, Pymble teachers

collaborative opportunities to engage

and most importantly, students, should

in rich, evidence-based conversations

reap the benefits of an increasingly

about impact on student learning,

skilled and satisfied academic team.

should lead to an enhanced ability to make the best educational decisions for the students.

On the horizon for College staff is an introduction to Pymble People. This is a framework of professional learning

Differentiation is key if we are to

and development processes which

continue to develop the rich diversity of

aims to place learning at the centre

skills, expertise and experience that our

of professional life as we educate girls

staff contribute to the College. Enabling

and young women to be influential

teachers to exercise agency over

and compassionate leaders, within

choice of learning focus, learning style

and beyond the College. Built on the

and collaborative partnerships allows

idea of growing professional capital

them the space to personalise their

and underpinned by the concepts of

learning and development to meet their

teacher agency, collective efficacy, and

individual needs. While the College will

career progression, it is hoped that this

provide the framework for organisational framework will support our staff to learn together to reach our aspirations and consistency and coherence, that framework should be have the flexibility to provide for teacher choice, voice and ownership of learning. Furthermore, providing for the career progression of our staff is vital to maintaining their wellbeing and job satisfaction. Wherever possible, design features must allow for the nonlinear paths that our teachers take in their careers. Supporting this development, be it in the classroom, in leadership or through other means, will have a direct impact on the outcomes for our students.


Illuminate Research and Innovation | Edition 7 2022

inspire educational excellence.

Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. New York: Macmillan. Coe, R., Aloisi, C., Higgins, S., & Major, L. (2014). What makes great teaching? Review of the underpinning research. https://www. What-makes-great-teaching-FINAL-4.11.14-1.pdf. Darling-Hammond, L., Hyler, M. E., & Gardner, M. (2017). Effective teacher professional development. Palo Alto, CA: Learning Policy Institute. Donohoo J., Hattie J., & Eells, R. The power of collective efficacy. (2021, June 2) ASCD. Hargreaves, A., & Fullan, M. (2012). Professional capital: Transforming teaching in every school. New York: Teachers College Press. Hattie, J. (2008). Visible Learning. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge. Hattie, J. A. C., & Zierer, K. (2018). Ten Mindframes for Visible Learning: Teaching for Success. Routledge. Kali, E. (2010). Leading in a VUCA environment: V is for volatility. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from leading-in-a-vuca-environment. Knight, J. (2018). The impact cycle: What instructional coaches should do to foster powerful improvements in teaching. United States: Corwin. McKinsey (2007). How the world’s bestperforming school systems come out on top. education/our-insights/how-the-worlds-bestperforming-school-systems-come-out-on-top Ortan, F., Simut, C., & Simut, R. (2021). Self-efficacy, job satisfaction and teacher well-being in the K-12 educational system. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. Vol 3;18(23):12763. Schleicher, A. (2018, November 12). Educating students for their future, not our past. Teacher Magazine. https://www.teachermagazine. com/au_en/articles/educating-students-fortheir-future-not-our-past. Sinek, S. (2011). Start with why: How great leaders inspire everyone to take action. New York: Portfolio.

The Pymble Archibull Prize and program development: what will our planet look like in 2050? Raymond Howells Geography Teacher

In the 21st century, students require skills to adapt to a rapidly changing global environment to solve complex, multi-faceted issues including climate change, energy insecurity, overpopulation and environmental degradation (Kwauk & Winthrop, 2021). The past two years have illustrated the

These competencies are commonly

need for a new way of thinking to ensure

referred to as ‘soft skills’, skills that

demand for resources can be met

are desirable in all professions which

sustainably and equitably in a polarising

develop innovative solutions to

world where many worldwide experience problems and involve flexibility and hunger, malnutrition, inadequate access

openness to a wide range of ideas and

to education and health (Food and

viewpoints. Succi and Canovi (2020)

Agriculture Organisation of the United

found 86 per cent of respondents to

Nations, 2021).

their research indicated an increased

The subject of Geography encapsulates a need to go beyond the traditional classroom and enrich students in issues that face society today in ways that are relatable and comprehensive. Most importantly, it demonstrates there are exciting solutions already taking place across the world, across space, from local to global. Geography is fortunate to have many avenues which provide students with a diverse curriculum and opportunities to develop their future competencies for the workplace,

emphasis on soft skills over the last five to ten years and that companies consider soft skills more important than students and graduates do. In 2016, the World Economic Forum (2016) released the Future of Jobs Report and commented on cognitive abilities such as creativity, mathematical reasoning and process skills such as active listening and how critical thinking will be a growing part of core skills requirements for many industries. There are new jobs that exist today that

including problem solving, collaboration, did not exist a decade ago. Advances in creativity and innovation (Nagel, 2008;

technology are bringing unprecedented

Australian Curriculum, 2022).

changes to the nature of work, occupations and industries.

Pymble Ladies’ College


The Pymble Archibull Prize and program development

The aim of the Archibull Prize is to illustrate the wide range of career opportunities and innovative nature of agriculture to high school students. Agriculture is a significant industry in Australia, operating at the heart of a functional Australian society and export-led economy (ABARES, 2022).

The Innovation and Science Australia

10 students in 2021. The intent was to

Report (2017) recommends the nurture

explore how students would respond

of interpersonal skills, such as empathy

to a real-world issue, along with the

and creativity, as a future imperative.

opportunity to make an impact locally

Digital disruption and automation make

and create a sustainability mascot

future occupation uncertain, yet the skills

using a sculpture of a life-sized dairy

needed to perform future jobs are clear.

cow. The College embraces and

Alphabeat (2017) claims early-career

encourages Learning Areas to foster

job roles that require critical thinking,

future work competencies through

creativity and presentation skills pay an

the Deep Learning approach

additional $8,000 per year in salary.

embedded into curriculum.

With the above in mind, the Pymble Archibull Prize was introduced into the Geography curriculum for Year 9 and

The Archibull Prize competition embodies many Deep Learning components, as well as addressing outcomes of Stage 5 Geography.

Deep Learning components (New Pedagogies for Deep Learning, 2019)

Stage 5 Geography student outcomes (NSW Education Standards Authority Accreditation, 2022)

Citizenship: Genuine interest to consider global issues based on diverse values and solve realworld problems.

Explains processes and influences that form and transform places/ environments (GE5-2).

Character: Proactiveness, curiosity and self-motivation to join the lunchtime program.

Analyses the effect of interactions and connections between people, places and environments (GE5-3).

Collaboration: Using their interpersonal skills students work independently and learn from each other in teams.

Accounts for perspectives of people and organisations on a range of geographical issues (GE5-4).

Creativity and Critical Thinking: Evaluating information, generating new ideas, pursuing ideas and applying them into action.

Assesses management strategies for places and environments for their sustainability (GE5-5).

Communication: Using appropriate methods to engage a wide range of audiences and advocate their position.

Communicates geographical information to a range of audiences using a variety of strategies (GE5-8).

Table 1: Table of Deep Learning competencies and Stage 5 Geography student outcomes


Illuminate Research and Innovation | Edition 7 2022

At the end of 2021, when the Stage 5 Geography program was redeveloped and rewritten as part of the annual review of programs, it was recognised that the Pymble Archibull Prize reflected many components and student outcomes of Stage 5 Geography. A small team of Geography teachers collaboratively backward planned to consider how the Archibull Prize opportunity could add value to student learning. The team evaluated the success of our current program and sought to develop it further to incorporate more contemporary, realworld case studies.

OPPORTUNITIES IN AGRICULTURE The aim of the Archibull Prize is to illustrate the wide range of career opportunities and innovative nature of agriculture to high school students. Agriculture is a significant industry in Australia, operating at the heart of a functional Australian society and export-led economy (ABARES, 2022). There is a stereotypical image in the public mind regarding what agriculture represents - the ‘Farmer Wants a Wife’ comes immediately to mind! Real-world opportunities with experts outside the classroom can help broaden the reality of agriculture as a cutting-edge industry that is undergoing a new wave of technological revolution. With this paradigm shift, there are exciting opportunities to encourage, educate and upskill the next generation to work in innovative and wide-range fields of 21st century agriculture. Geography, to me, epitomises the real-world issues and opportunities taking place now and into the future. I am grateful to the College for allowing me to pursue this opportunity and to reach out to experts across the nation. Pymble Ladies’ College


The Pymble Archibull Prize and program development

The connection and collaboration with Pymble graduates, as well as a group of Pymble parents, has greatly enriched our curriculum offering in Year 9 for the Sustainable Biomes unit.

professional development which adopts relevant research to the classroom (Finelli, 2014). In addition, the Gonski 2.0 Review (2018), recommends school-industry engagement as a key to increase excellence in Australian schools. Partnerships with industry enrich student learning and broaden, reshape and reframe learning.

WHAT IS AN ECOSYSTEM OF EXPERTISE? An ecosystem of expertise is where complementary knowledges from a

and a core philosophy of the Pymble Archibull Project. The connection and collaboration with

to assist sustainable development is

Pymble graduates, as well as a group

achieved across time and space. This is

of Pymble parents, has greatly enriched

typically used by technical experts such

our curriculum offering in Year 9 for the

as scientists, engineers and doctors

Sustainable Biomes unit. As a teacher,

(Brand & Karvonen, 2007). The key

I have been invited to learn more from

to the success in the ecosystem of

experts who are leading the way in

expertise is the ability of the expert to

sustainable agriculture and it has been a

communicate technical information

great privilege to learn more about their

to non-experts. You could argue an

operations and how this information

ecosystem of expertise exists in each

can be disseminated to students, to get

classroom where the teacher, an expert

them interested in an industry that has

in their respective field, communicates

so much potential.

to their students.

Illuminate Research and Innovation | Edition 7 2022

forefront of contemporary thinking

range of disciplines are intertwined

the technical elements of their subject


Hence, the role of industry is at the

Edwina Beveridge from Blantyre Farms has a mixed farming operation


including sheep, cattle, cropping and

Ritter, Small, Mortimer and Doll (2018)

footprint and generates carbon credits.

illustrate a need to re-examine the

Under the Carbon Farming Initiative

curriculum, recommending the use of

(CFI), Blantyre Farms was the second

backward design, to prepare students

project registered and the first carbon

for the demands of the workplace

credit farm in Australia. Edwina is

and embedding soft skills across

enthused and says, when she was

the curriculum, but it takes time for

at school, she showed no interest in

university research to percolate and

agriculture until age 24, but admits

filter down to schools. This is an area

it is “a cracking career!” Edwina was

where secondary teachers can act as

proactive in reaching out after an email

change agents bridging the research-

sent to Boarding families invited them

to-practice gap by undertaking

to get involved and work with the

pigs. The farm captures methane from pig manure and turns it into electricity which massively reduces their carbon

Geography Department by looking into

Other notable experts include Tayla

how sustainability in practice can be

Field, who works in horticulture, and

incorporated into our programs (Action

her network of fellow Young Farming

for Agriculture, 2022).

Champions (YFC). Students involved in

Gillian Hayman, a Pymble graduate who now operates Montrose Dairy, also reached out to the College. She was keen to echo the idea that learning related to the real world is so important, as well as the opportunity to learn the theory in the classroom. Gillian sees the connection as a positive step which can lead to many other linkages for students. She hopes the project will open students’ minds and perhaps break down the long-held perceptions about who a farmer is and how they go about their business in these modern times. There are many exciting career opportunities across all aspects of agriculture. There are jobs from the research in labs and in the field to

the project sent a list of questions to Tayla about food, climate change and agriculture but Tayla noticed many of the questions were in areas beyond horticulture, so she reached out to the YFC for support. Marlee Langfield provided insights into agricultural yield from crops, Anika Molesworth gave her thoughts on the future of farming in Australia and Emma Ayliffe commented on the role of water in Australia’s dry climate. Other members of the YFC team came back with videos and Tayla was able to create a range of online resources specifically for the students (Action for Agriculture, 2022).


hands-on farming; from technology,

In 2021, a small group of secondary

greenhouse gas emissions, soil, plant

students participated in lunchtime

and animal management, environment

meetings to create a community action

and biodiversity to nutrition, community

project focused on the United Nations

development and economics. Even

Sustainable Development Goals of

if people do not choose a career

climate action and ending hunger

in agriculture, it’s so important to

by focusing on tackling plastic waste

understand food production and land

and food waste at the College. The

management as a consumer.

Sustainability Captains in Year 12 created

Peter Thornton is a Pymble parent and the manager of Delta Agribusiness where he works with a wide range of farmers and agriculture businesses, providing technical and bespoke advice for their specific needs. Peter shared the same passion and curiosity to get involved as Edwina and Gillian, working with the Geography, Business and Economics Department to create a number of interactive videos about his role and Delta Agribusiness’ purpose.

There are many exciting career opportunities across all aspects of agriculture. There are jobs from the research in labs and in the field to hands-on farming; from technology, greenhouse gas emissions, soil, plant and animal management, environment and biodiversity to nutrition, community development and economics.

an initiative to reduce plastic waste by encouraging the use of a ‘keep cup’ to eliminate unnecessary use of coffee cups at the College café and students also advocated for the removal of plastic straws on campus. Year 7 to 10 students decided to focus on the use of bins at the College and how we can ensure waste is disposed of appropriately and, where possible, recycled. Students created a range of posters to ensure the recycling bins were used accordingly and food scraps were sent to the

Pymble Ladies’ College


The Pymble Archibull Prize and program development

In a classroom environment, students receive clear learning targets, guidelines and feedback, as well as a safe learning environment that supports them in their next steps, no matter their current level of performance (The Inclusion Initiative, 2018).

appropriate bin to be used as food scraps at the agriculture plot. This project utilised interest-based differentiation where students were encouraged to select their own topic and the project designed towards motivations that bring students joy (Tomlinson et al., 2003).

• With the assistance and direction of their teacher, students have WHAT WILL STUDENT LEARNING LOOK access to a wide range of experts LIKE? across disciplines and biomes. The preparation of the new project is The specialities include veterinary grounded in differentiation and high science, climate science and potential learning research where horticulture, including help from our the core pedagogy principle is to gardening team at Pymble. An expert teach up. Teaching up is a growth currently based in Antarctica who mindset employed by teachers where is working on climate research and preconceptions on content difficulty for waste management on the continent students is removed and the capacity has already created a range of of each learner is not predetermined. resources on-board the scientific In a classroom environment, students vessels travelling near the continent receive clear learning targets, to studies on the continent and guidelines and feedback, as well as a kindly offered to share these virtually safe learning environment that supports with Stage 5. them in their next steps, no matter their current level of performance. (The DIFFERENTIATING FOR STUDENT Inclusion Initiative, 2018). LEARNING Putting this into practice involved taking challenging concepts in agriculture, such as tillage, soil compaction, precision agriculture and crop sequencing and adapting them for all students to access to provide an engaging, real-world and stimulating experience. As opposed to making extension a separate entity in the classroom, it was structured to be accessible to all with resources tailored to bring all students up. • The program starts with a mock United Nations summit where students choose a biome to represent.


Illuminate Research and Innovation | Edition 7 2022

• Students create a futuristic, sustainable farm that incorporates the ability to rewild their footprint (encouraging the return of nature to human-intensive activity) and increase food yield to feed the predicted 9 billion people on Earth in 2050.

Two models of differentiation were utilised to the develop the program; the Maker and Tomlinson models. The Maker Model (1982) is a practical tool for teachers to plan and develop a differentiated learning sequence. There are four components of the method content, process, product and learning environment the guide teachers to consider where differentiation can be integrated into the curriculum for the class. Tomlinson’s Model (1999) was embedded to connect to students according to their readiness, interest and learning profile. Getting to know students takes time, and the use of diagnostic assessment, questioning, observation and data can assist in the planning stages. A summary of how the

Content: What are students expected to learn?

Process: how will students learn the content?

Abstraction: go beyond the facts, the study of people at different scales of place and space (local, community, NGO, global).

Questioning: higher-order thinking and small-group discussion.

Complexity: in-depth study with a breadth of realworld examples for students to choose from. Variety: exposure of new ideas and content with a glossary of key terms. Afford students the choice to select an area of focus they are interested in.

Divergent thinking: stimulate open-ended thinking. Freedom of choice with varied pace: independent learning to motivate and self-regulate with regular checkpoints.

Product: what will students produce to showcase their learning?

Environment: how can the physical setting of learning be improved?

Real world Application: study of people and evidencebased research that is structured which impacts local people and communities.

Varied groupings: dynamic group sizes to suit cohort’s preference and pace: – Discussion (whole class/small group) – Think-pair-share – Peer assessment (pairs) – Assessment (individual)

Use of checkpoints: use of Kahoot and other formative assessments to check students understanding. Authentic product: create a digital mascot of sustainability with links to support their arguments.

Break out rooms: student-centred, invitation of teacher into focus groups with intentional pairings to extend proficiency and intentional discovery questions. Padlet: low-risk assessment (can be anonymous) with discussion lines and opportunity for teacher development and line of questioning.

Table 2: Adapted from Victorian Department of Education and Training (2022), using the Maker Model (1982)


Learning profile


Engagement: hook students with real life study by asking students what they would like to learn.

Online environment: noise level was monitored (hands up/down) + break out rooms for unstructured peer discussion.

Structure: Dependent to Independent, simple-complex.

Group sizes: Teacher observation into classroom dynamic, use of mixed of groupings and sizes.

VAK: Range of learning style with the use of videos, interviews, chat bar and resources stored electronically.

Scaffold: Use of various weblinks on a particular subject to support and excel, collaboration with library and use of graphic organiser to provide structure to their thinking.

Time out: Structured lesson time away from computer screen to talk through their work.

Table 3: Adapted from Tomlinson’s Model (1999)

Pymble Ladies’ College


The Pymble Archibull Prize and program development

What makes biomes unique and flourish in biodiversity? What are the main characteristics of biomes? Where is biodiversity highest? Why are high levels of biodiversity important? Which biomes are most at risk? Why? Where in the world is this food produced? What biomes are found on the driest continent on Earth, how do humans use the land? What is agricultural yield and why is it important? Will any biomes benefit from climate change? Human destruction or human alteration? How are humans using biome resources? Does food security discriminate? We produce enough food already for 10 billion people, what’s the problem with food security? Where’s the most food-insecure place in the world? Why? How can we create a ‘buzz’ and ‘bee positive’? ‘To bee’ or ‘not to bee’? If truth bee told, do we all need to be keepers? How do we feed 9 billion people by 2050? How is technology used to obtain information to assist with measuring and responding to food security issues? If there’s enough food on Earth for everyone, why is their hunger and malnourishment? How do we feed 9 billion people by 2050? Table 4: Inquiry-based questioning developed in collaboration with the Geography team

sequence embedded differentiation to suit the learning needs of the class is outlined on the next page. Open-ended questions like the examples above provide an opportunity to open up discussion to identify student knowledge and understanding before starting a new concept, teach up to their needs and integrate necessary extension to extend student learning and thinking.

CONCLUDING THOUGHTS 2022 is going to be an exciting year for the Geography, Business and Economics Department at Pymble, with a new program that incorporates 21st century competencies to deepen student learning, offer opportunities to avenues of future capabilities and a project that is authentic and intertwined with Pymble action. Students are at the

How students learn is shaped by a

heart of their learning with a plethora of

range of factors, through teacher

experts available to guide and challenge

observation and deployment of a variety

their conceptions of what agriculture

of purposeful, learning approaches

and geography mean today. Contrary

their needs can be supported to ensure

to the media’s portrayal, the future can equitable access and achievement for all be bright. (The Inclusive Initiative, 2018). 22

Illuminate Research and Innovation | Edition 7 2022

References Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences. (2022). Snapshot of Australian Agriculture 2022, ABARES Insights, Canberra. DOI:

The Pymble Archibull Prize has blossomed from a nationwide competition to involve students in the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals and Australian agriculture opportunities into a collaborative network. There is innovation all around us with individuals, communities, businesses and government already committing to action. It is our hope that we can inspire our students and demonstrate this promise to all learners at the College. The Pymble Archibull Prize has blossomed from a nationwide competition to involve students in the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals and Australian agriculture opportunities into a collaborative network. In my role as teacher-leader, I have liaised with experts across Australia who work in the field as they share their expertise for students to learn about agriculture and food security issues in Australia and overseas. In the future, the opportunity for students to visit and interact with Blantyre Farm and Montrose Dairy, and other agricultural-based organisations will be an exciting avenue with lots of potential for deeper learning and career perspectives. I look forward to seeing what the girls and experts create together.

Action for Agriculture (2022). Embedding Agriculture in the Geography Curriculum. Available online: https://www.action4agriculture. pdf. Accessed 4th April 2022. AlphaBeta. (2017). The new basics: Big data reveals the skills young people need for the new work order, Foundation for Young Australians, Melbourne. Australian Curriculum. (2022). Rationale. Available online: https://www. humanities-and-social-sciences/geography/ rationale/. Accessed 1st March 2022. Brand, R., & Karvonen, A. (2007). The ecosystem of expertise: Complementary knowledges for sustainable development. Sustainability: Science, Practice and Policy, 3:1, 21-31, DOI: 10.1080/15487733.2007.11907989. Finelli, C.J., Daly, S.R. & Richardson, K.M. (2014). Bridging the research-to-practice gap: Designing an institutional change plan using local evidence. Journal of Engineering Education, 103: 331-361. DOI: jee.20042 Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (2021). The state of food security and nutrition in the world 2021: The world is at a critical juncture. Available online: https:// Accessed 14th January 2021. Gómez, J., Román-Martínez, I., & GómezMiranda, M. (2015). Measuring the impact of inquiry-based learning on outcomes and student satisfaction. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 40:8, 1050-1069, DOI: 10.1080/02602938.2014.963836 Gonski, D., Arcus, T., Boston, K., Gould, V., Johnson, W., O’Brien, L., Perry, L-A., & Roberts, M. (2018). Through growth to achievement: The report of the review to achieve educational excellence in Australian schools. Retrieved from: other/662684_tgta_accessible_final_0.pdf Innovation and Science Australia. (2017). Australia 2030: Prosperity through innovation. Canberra: Australian Government. Retrieved from Kariippanon, K.E., Cliff, D.P., Lancaster, S.L. et al. (2018) Perceived interplay between flexible learning spaces and teaching, learning and student wellbeing. Learning Environments Research, 21, 301–320.

Maker, C.J. (1982). Curriculum development for the gifted. Austin, TX: Pro-Ed. Nagel, P. (2008). Geography: The essential skill for the 21st Century. Social Education, 72(7), 354+. A189747470/AONE?u=anon~2c9acb62&sid=googleScholar&xid=9b8c7f7e New pedagogies for deep learning: A global partnership. (2019). Deep Learning Competencies Available online: Accessed 8th March 2022. New South Wales Education Standards Authority. (2022). Geography K-10 Outcomes. Available online: https://educationstandards. Accessed 8th March 2022. Ritter, B.A., Small, E.E,. Mortimer J.W., & Doll J.L. (2018). Designing management curriculum for workplace readiness: Developing students’ soft skills, Journal of Management Education, 42(1), 80–103. doi: 10.1177/1052562917703679. Succi, C. & Canovi, M. (2020). Soft skills to enhance graduate employability: Comparing students and employers’ perceptions, Studies in Higher Education, 45:9, 1834-1847, DOI: 10.1080/03075079.2019.1585420. The Inclusion Initiative (2018). Developing an Inclusive Mindset. http://learningportal. uploads/2018/02/Part-A-Workbook.pdf Tomlinson, C. (1999). The differentiated classroom: Responding to the needs of all learners. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Tomlinson, C., Brighton, C., Hertberg, H., Callahan, C., Moon, T., Brimijoin, K., Conover, L., & Reynolds, T. (2003). Differentiating instruction in response to student readiness, interest, and learning profile in academically diverse classrooms: A review of literature. Journal for the Education of the Gifted. 27, 2/3, 119–145. The Association for the Gifted, Reston, VA 20191-1589. Victorian Department of Education & Training (2022). Differentiation for high-ability https:// teachingresources/high-ability-toolkit/Pages/ differentiating-high-ability.aspx. Accessed 14th January 2021. World Economic Forum. (2016). The future of jobs employment, skills and workforce strategy for the fourth industrial revolution. Retrieved from: Future_of_Jobs.pdf

Kwauk, C. & Winthrop, R. (2021). Center for Universal Education: Unleashing the creativity of teachers and students to combat climate change: An opportunity for global leadership. Available online: research/unleashing-the-creativity-of-teachersand-students-to-combat-climate-change-anopportunity-for-global-leadership/. Accessed 14th January 2021.

Pymble Ladies’ College


First Nations representation in twentieth century local histories: From Gilgandra to Pymble Ryan Stewart History and Aboriginal Studies Teacher

First Nations representation in regional local histories in New South Wales didn’t occur widely until the 1960s and it wasn’t until 1980 that the peoples of the Pymble region appeared in a local settler-colonist history of Hornsby. This trend has been well documented

experienced both elements of Prowse’s

by Australian historian Louise Prowse

appraisal right through to the 1950s and

in her 2015 article Parallels on the

beyond, with the notion of extinction

Periphery: The Exploration of Aboriginal

being the foundation upon which the

History by Local Historical Societies

coastal Darkinjung peoples were inserted

in New South Wales, 1960s-1970s.

into settler historical narratives. However,

In this research, Prowse examined the

by the 1960s, First Nations representation

construction of local histories in the

was starting to occur in local histories,

regional towns of Gilgandra, Gundagai,

as ‘interest, initiative and enquiry into

Mudgee Uralla and Young. Here she

Aboriginal history’ became evident.3

found histories which ‘emphasised the challenges of pioneer days by outlining the danger Aboriginal people posed to white people.’1 Such attitudes from local historians effectively forestalled any sincere consideration of First Nations experiences in regional histories in the early to mid-twentieth century. Prowse found many commonalities across the towns she investigated, stating that between ‘the 1920s and 1950s, some local histories omitted Aboriginal history altogether, or made passing reference to Aboriginal people as having once lived in the area.’2 Local histories published on the Central Coast through this period


Illuminate Research and Innovation | Edition 7 2022

Politico-cultural developments in Australia had, by the late 1960s, created an atmosphere whereupon the plight of First Nations peoples had been brought into the public view of nonIndigenous Australians more fixedly than ever up until this point. Jennifer Clark has argued that by ‘the late 1950s and early 1960s… a new intensity and a new direction were present in Aboriginal politics.’4 This was evident in the Bark Petition of the Yirrakala people in 1963, the Charles Perkins led Freedom Ride in 1965, the Gurindji people’s Wave Hill protest and ‘walk off’ in 1966, and the national referendum in 1967. Such

events highlighted the injustice and

in their endeavours by listening to

inequities experienced by First Nations

Stanner’s lecture and its message.

peoples for both Australians and the

However, before Stanner’s landmark

international community. As both a

lectures, some local historians were

participant and a historian of the 1965

already including First Nations frontier

Freedom Ride in NSW, Ann Curthoys,

history into their narratives. Tom Griffiths

in her 2002 Freedom Ride: A Freedom

has noted that some regional local

Rider Remembers, remarked that she

historians were immersed in the stories

‘saw the Freedom Ride then – and

of contact on the frontier, and were

still does – as a ‘jumping off point’

thus more cognisant of First Nations

for investigating some large themes’

history than academic historians.11

in the history of relations between

Skye Krichauff found this trend evident

‘Indigenous and non-Indigenous people

in South Australian regional local

in Australia.’ Henry Reynolds has

history, particularly concerning the

recently positioned the Bark Petition

representation of the Ngadjuri peoples

and the 1967 referendum to amend the

in settler-orientated local histories.12


Constitution as ‘…milestones on the long Krichauff found that by the 1960s a local road that slowly wound its way away

historian named Nancy Robinson had

from white Australia’s colonial and racist

‘tried hard to include the stories of the

past.’ Reynolds himself admitting that

descendants of the original owners.’13

it wasn’t until the 1967 referendum and

Robinson’s efforts, however, were

the ‘rapid and radical social change’ he

stymied by the advice, including that

witnessed in Townsville, Queensland,

from the South Australian Museum, that

that he began seeing ‘aspects of

the Ngadjuri people were ‘extinct.’14


Australia’ that he ‘had known nothing about.’7 This, of course, famously led Reynolds to explore ‘Australian history from the other side of the frontier.’8 It is in this politico-cultural context that Prowse has explored how some local history writers in the 1960s, across the aforementioned regions that she investigated, were quicker to the uptake of writing First Nations history than academic historians.9 Ann Curthoys has argued that Stanner’s ‘great Australian silence’ on First Nations history did not necessarily filter down to local historians.10 Stanner’s ‘great Australian silence’ lecture was broadcast nationally on ABC radio on 7 November, 1968. Members of historical societies and local historians across regional Australia may have indeed been further encouraged

Whilst some regional historical societies in New South Wales were integrating First Nations experiences into their local histories by the 1960s, it was not a uniform phenomenon. Mark McKenna in his 2008 Looking for Blackfella’s Point took aim at the failings of some historical societies in addressing frontier conflict and violence in their histories of the Towamba region in south-east New South Wales from the 1970s onwards. McKenna criticised such historical societies for not being more representative of First Nations experiences in their histories when universities and the media had been publicising such research about the frontier since the early 1970s. Scholars such as Rowley, McQueen, Ryan and Reynolds having taken the lead on such research.15

Pymble Ladies’ College


From Gilgandra to Pymble

Hence, whilst the academy took the lead

However, aborigines (sic) were few…

in investigating First Nations histories at

most had succumbed to smallpox and

a macro level from the early 1970s, at a

other diseases of the white man.’16

micro level it was local historical societies Whilst brief, it does show (albeit from a that initiated such studies. In relation to First Nations peoples of the Pymble/Turramurra region appearing in local settler-colonist histories, it wasn’t until 1980, in a local history publication of the Hornsby area, that settlercolonist memories of the peoples of our College’s environs were referenced in a local history publication. The 1980 Pioneers of Hornsby Shire, 1788-1906: A History, written by the Hornsby Shire Historical Society, includes an interesting and illuminating reference to First Nations peoples of the region during the early colonial period. The text states that by the mid-nineteenth century there ‘were still aborigines (sic) in the area. They used to travel south from Bobbin Head to Pymble then west towards Thornleigh.


Illuminate Research and Innovation | Edition 7 2022

settler-colonist perspective) the areas frequented by the family group here and the direction of travel from the fishing areas/ habitation areas of Bobbin Head to Pymble (hunting, ceremony, highest point in the area – Turramurra) then to Thornleigh. Anecdotes also survive from the settler-colonist Robert Pymble, for whom the suburb was named, in which he remembered that a First Nations Family Group of Country around Pymble ‘always broke the journey and encamped on Wright’s Hill, near the present reservoir at Pymble…’ and ‘that the hill beyond the present station (Pymble train station) was called by those campers ‘Turramurra’ or ‘Turraburra’… and that the word meant ‘big hill’.’17

Additionally, Pymble told his grandchildren that First Nations peoples of the area were, unfortunately, not visible in the region anymore by 1856 – the pressures of colonisation (disease, violence and dispossession)

Footnotes 13

Prowse, “Parallels on the Periphery”, p. 60.


Prowse, “Parallels on the Periphery”, p. 64.



having most probably forced the people


north-west towards the Hawkesbury


named after Robert Pymble, a First

Anne Curthoys, Freedom Ride: A Freedom Rider Remembers, (Sydney: Allen and Unwin, 2002), xiii.


also recorded as being ‘Pimble.’19 More research and consultation with First


McKenna, Looking for Blackfella’s Point, p. 89. The academy’s efforts in Australia were led by scholars such as C.D. Rowley in The Destruction of Aboriginal Society (1970) and Humphrey McQueen’s Aborigines, Race and Racism (1974), Lyndall Ryan’s The Tasmanian Aborigines (1981), which reconstructed the narrative of relations between First Nations and Europeans in Tasmania from 1800, and Henry Reynold’s The Other Side of the Frontier (1981), dealing primarily with frontier violence in rural Queensland.

Jennifer Clark, Aborigines and Activism: Race, Aborigines & the Coming of the Sixties to Australia, (University of Western Australia Press, 2008), p. 4.

region.18 Whilst Pymble was evidently Nations word for ‘area’ or ‘district’ was

Skye Krichauff, “Recognisng Country: tracing stories of wounded spaces in mid-northern South Australia”, History Australia 2020, Vol. 17, No. 3, pp. 423-447: 428. See Chapter Three, p. 2, for more analysis of Krichauff.

Louise Prowse, “Parallels on the Periphery: The Exploration of Aboriginal History by Local Historical Societies in New South Wales, 1960s-1970s”, History Australia, 12:3, (2015), pp. 55-75: 60.



Nations peoples is needed in regards to the history of the Country on which our

Henry Reynolds, Truth-Telling: History, Sovereignty and the Uluru Statement, (Sydney: University of New South Wales Press, 2021), p. 1.

College stands. Hence this article also


serves as a call to action for students,


staff and the wider community to help


build our knowledge and understanding


Pioneers of Hornsby Shire, 1788-1906: A History, Hornsby Shire Historical Society (1980), p. 148.


Reynolds, pp.5-6. Reynolds, p. 6.

Prowse, p. 57. Ann Curthoys, “WEH. Stanner and the Historians”, in An Appreciation of Difference: WEH Stanner and Aboriginal Australia, ed. Jeremy Beckett and Melinda Hinkson (Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press, 2008), p. 241.

of the peoples and Country in which we teach, learn and yarn.

Tom Griffiths, Hunters and Collectors: The Antiquarian Imagination in Australia (Melbourne: Cambridge University Press, 1996), p. 219.


Ngadjuri Country is in mid-north South Australia and extends from Angaston and Gawler in the south to Panaramittee and Yunta in the north. See au/country.html

“North Shore Line: Naming the Stations,” Evening News, Friday 22 July 1921, p. 4. This article was part five of a series of North Shore local history contributions written for the Evening News by prominent Killara settler-colonist James George Edwards (b.1843-d.1927). Edwards was popularly known as the so-called ‘father of Killara.’ See “Late Mr. J. G. Edwards” Sydney Morning Herald, 4 July 1927, p. 12.

17 west-pymble/ accessed April 8, 2022.



“North Shore Line: Naming the Stations,” Evening News, Friday 22 July 1921, p. 4.


Pymble Ladies’ College


How can student voice be amplified by Year 10 Elective Geography students, so they are future-ready? An action research project to investigate student and parent understanding of transdisciplinary skills to help the Geography, Business, Economics (GBE) Department develop future ready global citizens.

1. Critical thinking – Geography students at Pymble are encouraged to critically evaluate information and arguments, identify patterns and connections, construct meaningful knowledge, and apply and assess this knowledge in the real world.

Liam Hume Geography Teacher and Celestino Project Lead Debra Owens Geography, Business and Economics Teacher

Following the MMG Student Wellbeing Survey 2020 (an annual survey undertaken by Year 5 to 12 students), student voice was identified as a growth area across the College, primarily in Years 8 to 10. Student voice can come through feedback, involvement in decision making or by allowing students to exercise some autonomy over what they learn and how they learn (Gonski, 2018). Through future imagining workshops, we aimed to investigate how the Geography, Business and Economics (GBE) Department can give students a voice in directing their learning and building their own capacity to gain the knowledge and transdisciplinary skills they need to contribute to a better world. These transdisciplinary skills include


Illuminate Research and Innovation | Edition 7 2022

2. Collaboration – Geography students at Pymble work interdependently and synergistically in teams with strong interpersonal and team-related skills, including effective management of team dynamics and challenges, making substantive decisions together, and contributing to learning from and having an impact on others. 3. Creativity – Geography students at Pymble are encouraged to have an ‘entrepreneurial eye’ for economic and social opportunities, expressing oneself in unique ways, asking the right inquiry questions to generate novel ideas, and leadership to pursue those ideas and turn them in to action. 4. Communication – Geography

collaboration, creativity, citizenship,

students at Pymble communicate

communication, critical thinking and

effectively with a purpose and

character. This action research chose to

voice in a variety of models and

focus on the following transdisciplinary

tools (including digital) and tailored

skills, as identified by Fullan, Quinn and

to impact a range of audiences

McEachen (2018, p.17):

and learning outcomes.

WHAT WAS OUR RESEARCH ALL ABOUT? Our research aimed to investigate strategies for promoting student voice in GBE through student workshops and in the practical application of these findings to the Year 10 Elective Geography Urban Living Lab program. The Urban Living Lab program involves students collaborating with industry experts from Celestino and CSIRO to solve complex, real-world challenges facing the development of the Sydney Science Park in Luddenham, Western Sydney. Student

these sorts of skills. Some 75 per cent

Pratt and Jake Plaskett (Director of

of employers considered employability

Student Learning 7-10) were consulted

skills to be as important, if not more

to guide the research project and

important, than technical skills. As

facilitate the workshops. Finally, parents

teachers, we have a commitment to

of the Year 10 Geography students were

our students to not only teach syllabus

invited to complete an online survey

content, but also prepare our students

about transdisciplinary skills and the

for their future. This action research will

future-readiness of their children.

critically reflect on the research findings to make transformative change for the


students at Pymble.

In November 2020, a successful


application for the College’s Kate Mason Professional Learning Grant was made.

voice acknowledges that students

Participation in the research was offered

Research and planning of the action

have unique perspectives on learning,

to all Year 10 Elective Geography

research project were completed

teaching and schooling, and should have

students in 2021. Students were invited

throughout Term 1, 2021. In March

the opportunity to actively shape their

to attend three lunchtime workshops

2021, an action research invitation and

own education (Victorian Government,

throughout Term 2. The number of

consent forms were sent to students

2020). Students from Year 10 Elective

student applicants was initially capped

and parents. The action research was

Geography were given the opportunity to at 20. Dr Susanne Pratt is a research imagine their future selves and the future consultant and lecturer in the Faculty (transdisciplinary) skills they will need to

of Transdisciplinary Innovation at

be active citizens in shaping their future

the University of Technology Sydney

(Davies et al., 2011). By engaging students

(UTS). She has a research interest in

in authentic opportunities to be active

transdisciplinary pedagogy, including

participants in their own learning, GBE

student-staff partnerships and

ultimately aims to use this research to

transdisciplinary teamwork. Susanne

completed throughout Term 2, 2020. There were three student workshops, which were each forty minutes in length. Workshops took place at the start, middle and end of the Urban Living Lab program. Workshops one and two were attended by 20 students. The third workshop was attended by 45 students.

enhance student voice throughout the College, to improve student wellbeing and allow students to build their own


capacity for a transdisciplinary future.

Understanding people


Ideate Generating ideas

WHY IS OUR RESEARCH IMPORTANT? Young people will need different skill sets to thrive in technology-rich, globalised, competitive job markets (Torii et al., 2017). It has been acknowledged and accepted that these transferable skills better equip students for the future of work and to take their place as active, global citizens (Beddie et al., 2014). A survey conducted by the Australian



National Skills Commission (2021) asked

Figuring out the problem

Refining the product

employers about the importance of

Prototype Creation and experimentation

Figure 1: The design thinking protocol used in workshops

Pymble Ladies’ College


Future readiness for Year 10 Geography

Future Readiness Workshop 1

Future Readiness Workshop 3


The focus of Workshop 1 was to

Workshop 3 used the River of Life

Results from Future Readiness Student

provide students the opportunity to

protocol to provide students the


begin to develop ideas about how

opportunity to reflect on their learning

the GBE Department can develop

journey during the Urban Living Lab

future-ready students. This was done

project. The River of Life protocol

through a learning sprint of the Design

involved students mapping their journey

Thinking protocol. The Design Thinking

through the Urban Living Lab program,

protocol underpins the Urban Living Lab

which invited students to consider

program and is a process for creative

situations that helped or hindered their

problem solving. Each of the four

ability to develop the transdisciplinary

transdisciplinary skills are fundamental

skills identified in this research. Students

for being able to navigate through

were also asked to reflect on how the

the five stages of the Design Thinking

Urban Living Lab project assisted with

protocol (see Figure 1). In this workshop,

the development of future skills and to

students identified challenges that the

offer ideas for how these future skills

GBE department would face to develop

could be implemented throughout the

future-ready students. They collaborated

Geography program.

to develop a prototype for what the GBE department could do to overcome this

Workshops revealed that students have an inconsistent understanding of what it means to be proficient in the four transdisciplinary skills. Through comparisons of student Chalk Talk protocol brainstorms with the Deep Learning progressions from Fullan, Quinn and McEachen (2018, p.17), it was identified that student understanding of the transdisciplinary skills can be ranked in the following order (1 being lowest level of understanding). (See chart over page). As educators, this indicates that more time needs to be allocated to explaining

A survey was sent to 12 parents who

and modelling the skills involved in

responded to the research invitation.

critical and creative thinking, as our

The survey involved 18 questions,

students found these less familiar. It also

The purpose of Workshop 2 was to

which aimed to provide an insight

suggests that students are not being

initiate student reflection on what

into their awareness of the relevance

made aware of individual intricacies of

proficiency in the four transdisciplinary

of transdisciplinary skills for their

these two skills and misconceptions are

skills would look like in the classroom.

child’s future. Parents were asked to

present. For example, students identified

Students used the Chalk Talk protocol

rank the four future skills based on

‘coming up with’ as a criterion for critical

to consider what a proficient learner

their importance and relevance to

thinking, which would be more relevant

would ‘look like’, according to Fullan,

Geography, apply their understanding

for creativity. Student understanding

Quinn and McEachen (2018, p.17).

to scenarios and to offer suggestions

of creativity also missed the ability to

The Chalk Talk protocol included

of how both the GBE department and

develop novel ideas. Hence, teachers

students brainstorming silently the

Pymble could assist the development of

need to provide more guidance on

characteristics that they would expect

future skills.

how and where they can develop these

challenge. Future Readiness Workshop 2

a student to have who is proficient in

elements of each skill and provide

each of the four transdisciplinary skills.

more opportunities to reflect on their

Students then compared their ideas to

progression in becoming proficient in

the characteristics identified by Fullen,

these skills.

Quinn and McEachen (2018, p.17) and identified characteristics they did not consider. Students were also asked to reflect on opportunities they have been provided to develop these skills in the Urban Living Lab program and in a wider school context. 30

Parent Survey

The Future Readiness Student

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Rank showing student understanding of the skill

Transdisciplinary Skill

Sentence starters used by students in Chalk Talk exercise

Gaps in understanding identified through comparison with Deep Learning progressions


Critical thinking

‘Identifying’, ‘Thinking about’, ‘Dealing with’, ‘Coming up with’, ‘Why’

Using logic and intuition, analysing, synthesising and evaluating data, anticipating and analysing connections, interdisciplinary and student reflection.



‘Different perspectives’, ‘Developing ideas’, ‘Brainstorming’, ‘Thinking about’

Making change, having courage, demonstrating leadership skills, using a range of digital platforms.



‘Working in pairs’, ‘Group work and discussions’, ‘Helping with’


‘Giving a speech or presentation’, ‘Deciding’, ‘Discussing’, ‘Using different modes’


Being able to articulate reasons for mode of communication, empowering others to be challenged, enriching the understanding of others.

Table 1: Application of Transdisciplinary Skills

Results from the parent survey Figure 2 shows how parents value the importance of each transdisciplinary skill for their child’s study of Geography. Sixty four percent of parents identified critical thinking as the most important skill for their child’s study of Geography.

daily importance of being able to think

Developing students who can

quickly on your feet, assess problems

successfully think critically in Geography

and find the best solutions. Students

will be key to best prepare students

learn about a plethora of global

for both their study of Geography and

challenges and will be the generation

future progression through tertiary

tasked with developing solutions to

education and into the workplace.

overcome these challenges.

When compared with results from Workshop 2, critical thinking was


the transdisciplinary skill of which students had the least understanding.

18% Collaboration

In Geography, students are regularly exposed to language around being creative, to collaborate in groups and to communicate in different modes

9% Communication

but are not often explicitly asked to think critically. Being able to think critically is a challenging skill and needs to be modelled carefully to enable students to build capacity over time. As Geography teachers, we recognise the unique opportunity our subject offers

64% Critical thinking

9% Creativity

for developing global citizens. Adults working in professional workspaces will also understand and value the

Figure 2: Importance of Transdisciplinary Skills for the study of Geography – Parent perspectives

Pymble Ladies’ College


Future readiness for Year 10 Geography

Eighteen percent of parents identified

This highlights the importance of being

real world scenarios. So, as educators,

collaboration as the most important

able to build capacity in both student

it is important for us to make these

skill for their child’s study of Geography. awareness and understanding of these

differences clear. An example of this

The results from Workshop 2 found

transdisciplinary skills. This needs to

in Geography is the Urban Living Lab

that students demonstrated good

be both a College-wide approach,

program. Students are required to think

understanding of this skill. Group work

as well as one within the Geography,

critically about a complex, real-world

is common in Geography at Pymble

Business and Economics Department.

challenge facing the development of

and assessment tasks often involve

As educators, we are, therefore, required

the Sydney Science Park. Through the

students collaborating in groups.

to model proficiency in these skills and

Design Thinking protocol, students

Evidence of successful collaboration is

provide students with clear explanations,

empathise with stakeholders and

used on marking rubrics. Through this

expectations and feedback on their

evaluate their wants and needs. When

regular practice, students have been

progression in these skills. By making

this has been done, students are able

provided opportunities to understand

students more aware of both the

to define the problem which they aim

how and why it is important to work

importance of these skills for their future

to address. Students then collaborate

successfully in a team. Through this,

selves, as well as making the skills explicit

in groups to research and demonstrate

parents are also aware of the regular

in programs, assessments, rubrics and

creativity to research and develop a

opportunities for collaboration through

marking, students will be empowered to

novel idea that could be implemented

their child’s assessment results and

guide their own development of these

in the Sydney Science Park. Students are

subsequent reporting.

skills through their self-reflection of

given a choice of how to communicate

strengths and weaknesses.

their idea. Being able to develop further

Figure 3 shows parent suggestions about how Pymble can assist parents

Being able to differentiate between

in supporting the development of

critical thinking and creativity was

transdisciplinary skills in their child.

a student misconception that was

Providing regular feedback through

highlighted in Workshop 2. Critical

reporting, marking rubrics and learning

thinking involves some degree of

discussions was selected by 83 per

creativity to be able to analyse and

cent of parents. By incorporating

evaluate data and apply knowledge to

partnership avenues both within GBE and across the College will provide students more authentic learning experiences in which they can develop the transdisciplinary skills needed for their future.

critical thinking into learning rubrics and reporting, parents will gain greater awareness of their child’s current capabilities and will be able to support their child to improve their understanding and proficiency in this skill.


HOW COULD WE (AS A SCHOOL) HELP PARENTS IN SUPPORTING THE DEVELOPMENT OF TRANSDISCIPLINARY SKILLS FOR THEIR DAUGHTER? 17% Provide real examples of how these skills are important for your daughter’s future

When comparing the student results to the parent survey, it is interesting to note that parents identified critical thinking as the most important transdisciplinary skill for the study of Geography, yet this was the skill

0% Other, provide details

0% Provide information evenings on this topic

83% Provide feedback on your daughter’s progress in these skills through reports, marking rubrics, learning discussions etc

which students demonstrated the least understanding from Workshop 2.


Illuminate Research and Innovation | Edition 7 2022

Figure 3: How could we (as a school) help parents in supporting the development of transdisciplinary skills for their daughter?


References Beddie, F., Creaser, M., Hargreaves, J., & Ong, A. (2014). Readiness to meet demand for skills: a study of five growth industries. NCVER, Adelaide. Davies, A., Fidler, D., & Gorbis, M. (2011). Future Work Skills 2020. Institute for the Future, University of Phoenix Research Institute. 1 (1), 1-14. Fullan, M., Quinn, J., & McEachen, J. (2018). Deep Learning: Engage the world, Change the world. Thousand Oaks, California. Gonski, D. (2015). Through Growth to Achievement: Report of the Review to Achieve Educational Excellence in Australian Schools. Australian Government. 1 (1), 1-158. National Skills Commission. (2021). State of Australia’s Skills 2021: Now and into the future, Australian Government. Torii, K., & O’Connell, M. (2017). Mitchell Report: Preparing young people for the future of work. Mitchell Institute. Victoria University Victorian State Government. (2020). Student voice. school/teachers/teachingresources/discipline/ humanities/civics/Pages/studentvoice.aspx. Last accessed 17th November 2020.

Pymble Ladies’ College


Future readiness for Year 10 Geography



Illuminate Research and Innovation | Edition 7 2022

Pymble Ladies’ College


Brighter fields: the Global Leaders Mentoring Program Kate Brown Head of Junior School Debbie Tarrant High Potential Learning Co-ordinator

Three Pymble staff participated in the Bright Field mentoring program in 2021/22, connecting the College to girls’ schools in the United Kingdom, the United States and India. The program is facilitated by Ian Wigston, co-founder of Bright Field Consulting, and aims to support leaders of girls’ schools around the world to provide leadership and growth opportunities for their students and staff. Participants are firstly paired with a mentor from a global context, whose specialisation extends beyond the field of education. Online mentoring allows the participant to explore areas of importance to them in their practice as a teacher-leader. Additionally, participants are paired with a teaching colleague from a girls’ school in another country and work on a project together which is implemented in their schools.

Click here to read Punam’s article on page 36.


Illuminate Research and Innovation | Edition 7 2022

KATE BROWN, HEAD OF JUNIOR SCHOOL Participating in the Global Mentoring program challenged me to reflect personally and as a leader. The program assigned me a mentor, Marjon, who coached me to identify, reflect upon and manage challenges in my leadership journey. A key aspect of our coaching conversations has been on how I can manage my energy and my day to allow me to carve space

Head of Junior School, Kate Brown,

for creative and strategic thinking and

High Potential Learning Co-ordinator,

to pursue personal goals – not easy

Debbie Tarrant, and College Chaplain,

whilst leading a school through a

Reverend Punam Bent, were Pymble’s

pandemic! Marjon worked closely with

first participants in Bright Field Global

me so that I could understand how my

Mentoring. Kate and Debbie share

predisposition and behaviour influence

their experiences in this reflection and

my performance as a leader. I was

Punam’s can be found in Edition 6 of

surprised by how open I was prepared

Illuminate, 2021, p.36-41.

to be with Marjon from the outset,

showing how effective the choice of her the confidence to be agents for positive as my mentor was. Ian used the Insights

change in their community. The broader

Discovery Personal Profile to match us.

perspective I gained through many

Through the mentoring sessions, I have

conversations with Nichole heightened

grown in reflective practice and know

my belief in the power of kindness and

that this positively impacts my capacity

its capacity to empower young people as

as a leader.

learners and leaders.

Alongside working with a leadership

Our combined action research focus

mentor, the opportunity to work with

was ‘Investigating how a focus on

an international educator developed

social/emotional learning enables girls

my perspective on the concerns and

to flourish as learners.’ Nichole and I

challenges of our young people globally. then explored this focus through our Partnership with an educational leader

own lens. My primary focus group

at The Philadelphia high school for Girls,

has been Year 5 students as the future

a selective High School in Philadelphia,

leaders of the Junior School. My

USA, enabled us both to share our

action research will culminate in the

action research and community

College’s inaugural Children’s Kindness

project ideas, ultimately shaping a

Convention on 15th June, 2022 where

focus relevant to both our contexts.

100 children from schools across

My partner Nichole’s focus was to

Sydney will collaborate on solution

introduce balance for her students.

finding for social issues they identify

Acutely aware of the increasing levels

through the lens of kindness.

of anxiety in their high-pressured academic environment and the negative impact on their girls’ wellbeing with the isolation of lockdowns throughout the pandemic, Nichole sought to explore the impact of introducing a mindfulness program. The Philadelphia High School for Girls wanted to analyse whether a 12-week mindfulness program would enhance students’ academic ability and teach them how to de-escalate their own stress.

Working alongside Dr Sarah Loch and the Pymble Institute has helped me grow skills as a researcher and has brought the joy of watching our Year 5 students see themselves as researchers and hearing them articulate their capacity as change makers with kindness as their super power.

Our data and the narrative around our respective journeys as researchers will be shared at the Coalition of Girls’ Schools Conference in Boston in June 2022. This opportunity has encouraged me to think deeply about what matters to me as a leader and why. Working alongside Dr Sarah Loch and the Pymble Institute has helped me grow skills as a researcher and has brought the joy of watching our Year 5 students see themselves as researchers and

With the instability in society over the last

hearing them articulate their capacity as

three years, my focus was on the power

change makers with kindness as their

of kindness to empower young children

super power.

to have a voice, a sense of hope and

Pymble Ladies’ College


Brighter fields: the Global Leaders Mentoring Program

I am thankful for Maxine’s expertise as a mentor – her wise counsel and her ability to build trust and rapport, which facilitated this growth in me as a leader.

DEBBIE TARRANT, HIGH POTENTIAL LEARNING CO-ORDINATOR The most important aspect of the Global Mentoring program for me has been the opportunity to work with a mentor in the field of Education. Bright Field Consulting expertly match participants with fitting mentors, using

world in the common area of Gifted Education! Laura and I look forward to one day visiting each other’s schools and experiencing, in person, the Gifted Education programs we have spent many hours discussing on “Zoom”. I hope other staff will have the

have had the privilege of partnering

opportunity to take part in the Global

with Maxine. Despite only speaking on

Mentoring program! It is not an

“Zoom” a handful of times, Maxine has

overstatement to say it has been

helped change the way I see myself and

transformational. It has been a timely

the direction of my career.

reminder of the power of mentoring,

me to get a sense of who I am as a leader, asking me probing questions about my goals and ambitions. I realised that I have been so immersed in my career that I have not allowed myself time to think carefully about my destination. Over the course of the year, Maxine has helped me develop a clearer sense of where I would like to be in ten years’ time and to take some decisive steps to get there. I have never spoken so frankly with anyone about my career before and, although it was difficult to do at first, it has enabled me to understand myself better. I am thankful for Maxine’s expertise as a mentor – her wise counsel and her ability to build trust and rapport, which facilitated this growth in me as a leader. The Global Mentoring program has also afforded me the opportunity to learn about another school’s approach to Gifted Education. Working on a joint research project with Laura, one of the school leaders at Redmaids High School, has sharpened my vision for ‘High Potential Learners’ at Pymble.

Illuminate Research and Innovation | Edition 7 2022

with someone on the other side of the

the Insights Discovery Profile, and I

From the outset, Maxine was keen for


What a rare opportunity to engage

and I am very keen to share this experience with the students at Pymble as we develop our own Student Mentoring program.

The Kindness Revolution: Empowering children to flourish as learners and leaders Kate Brown Head of Junior School

Small changes can make a big difference Humans are intrinsically social animals

During the pandemic, 191 countries

and, as society faces increasing

instigated school closures (UNESCO,

complexities with the global pandemic

2020) impacting 91.3 per cent of

and the isolation this brings, I believe

students worldwide. In response to

kindness has a critical part to play in

lockdown, many schools introduced

our cohesion as a community and our

online learning; however, this adjusted

wellbeing as individuals. Young people

mode of learning led to concerns as to

have been impacted in their social and

how students would be emotionally and

emotional development by the isolation

socially impacted.

and disruption stemming from COVID-19 restrictions. In surveys undertaken by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare in partnership with Swinburne University of Technology, investigating the impact on health and wellbeing since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, 54 per cent of respondents reported that they felt lonelier since the start of the pandemic (Lim et al., 2020).

Schools have responded to the situation by finding different ways to ensure children are still able to explore opportunities to grow and know their strengths and impact. Giving children the opportunity to collaborate, to think critically and creatively and to act as advocates for change is important to develop their sense of self, as well as

Figure 1: Student brainstorms responding to the provocation, ‘Kindness is...’

Pymble Ladies’ College


The Kindness Revolution: Empowering children to flourish

As a Junior School at Pymble, we are using kindness as a way to empower our girls as learners and leaders.

their sense of social responsibility. As a

I wasn’t happy to make mistakes in

Junior School at Pymble, we are using

my learning in subjects that really

kindness as a way to empower our girls

mattered to me! In those subjects I

as learners and leaders.

tended towards striving for perfection.

Kindness is a simple word, easily understood by children and, therefore, accessible as a concept for them to unpack and lead. The Oxford English Dictionary defines kindness as ‘the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate’. Within our Junior School context, we scrutinised kindness through three lenses; kindness to self, kindness to others and kindness to the environment.

Q What do you think you missed out on by not being kind to yourself? I could have been a more broadly educated citizen if I had been more confident at a young age. I would have been more open to learning experiences. Q What would you tell your young self if you could?

I also led focus groups with girls to shape

I would tell myself to be kind, that

their definition of kindness and to explore

I am enough. I wish I could tell

what they perceive as its power and

my younger self that being kind to

potential power.

myself is a strength. I would like

EMPOWERING OUR JUNIOR SCHOOL GIRLS TO FLOURISH AS LEARNERS THROUGH A CULTURE OF KINDNESS Through the journey of exploring Kindness to Self, Mrs Lara Bird, Deputy Head of Junior School – Academics, and I talked to students and families about how we could empower our girls to flourish as learners. We need our girls to take risks in their learning, to make and celebrate their mistakes in their

to have known that being kind to myself is as important as doing things for others. I remember as a child myself being driven by the need to do ‘well’ and achieve top marks. I often chose learning paths that didn’t challenge me to fulfil this need rather than potentially deepening my understanding and learning by taking a path that may have led to mistakes or ‘failure’ as I perceived it.

learning and to choose challenge. Too

Kindness to Self can be an abstract

often, young girls want to ‘please’ their

concept for young children, so in

teacher and as such can inadvertently

wanting the girls to explore the scope of

limit their learning by choosing to play it

kindness to self, I broke it into four facts:

safe when making learning choices. An

1. I will speak to myself with a kind voice

interview with Dr Sarah Loch, Director of 2. I will feel nervous sometimes, and that’s ok the Pymble Institute gives an insight into how limiting the desire to please can be

3. I will have a go

on a young person’s learning:

4. I will make mistakes, and that’s ok

Q How kind were you to yourself as a

Weekly assemblies and purposefully

learner at school? I didn’t even know it was a concept. I was just always doing my ‘best’, which is some form of kindness to self, but 40

Illuminate Research and Innovation | Edition 7 2022

designed Directions lessons (as part of our wellbeing program) provided more opportunities for the girls to explore their understanding of kindness to self, others, and the environment.

One of our Year 5 students, Amber Chen, chose to convey her understanding of this concept by designing posters which are now displayed in each grade level learning area as a visual reminder for all students.

To foster a strong understanding of the

I am currently working with groups

concept of kindness to others, which

of Year 6 students to explore

was our focus as a Junior School for

their understanding of how we

Term 2, 2022, I unpacked that concept

can demonstrate kindness to the

into these four facts:

environment through our everyday

1. I can be of service

behaviours and will then co-create four

2. I can be inclusive

facts based on their thinking. Kindness

3. I can listen

to the environment will be our Junior

4. I can use my voice for change

School focus in Term 3, 2022.

Pymble Ladies’ College


The Kindness Revolution: Empowering children to flourish

Mentoring gave the girls the space and time to grow their own ideas.

BUILDING OUR VOICE FOR KINDNESS AND OUR ACTION RESEARCH PROJECT In 2021-2022, I initiated leadership opportunities with the introduction of Kindness Captains for each class from Year 1 to Year 6 who are peer elected each term. I met with these leaders each week and with other teachers (Mrs Nerissa Davey, Miss Rachael

scientific and medical studies regarding the benefits experienced by individuals who act kindly towards others. Evidence shows that altruism, or being of service to others, has the additional effect of helping the kindness giver so the hope was that these activities will have a dual impact; helping others and helping our own students to flourish.

Gibson, Mrs Kate Giles, Mrs Kimberley

Data collected from our survey of Year

Tyson and Mrs Genia Wright) mentored

5 students already evidences that most

them to grow as kindness leaders

children acknowledge that being kind

within our school and wider community. to others has a positive impact on their own sense of happiness, with 78 per This was the first step in giving our girls voice and a sense of social responsibility

cent of students surveyed attributing a

to spread the message of kindness.

score of nine or ten to how happy they

Mentoring gave the girls the space and time to grow their own ideas. This

Be of Service activities were designed

was key to the action research project

to be completed at school during

where we saw students grow as leaders

weekly Directions lessons and at home.

and flourish as learners when given the

Year 4, for example developed a passion

opportunity to be agents for change.

for knitting inspired by Mrs Nicola Michie

Ideas flowed and the girls acted upon

(Year 4 Compass Teacher) and,

these ideas, despite lockdown in 2021.

therefore, decided to lead a project to

During this period of isolation, the

knit blankets for animal shelters. Led by

Kindness Captains led initiatives to instil

Mrs Alison Tedesco, Year 3 Co-ordinator,

a sense of much-needed positivity in

Year 3 used their Literacy lessons and

their homes, our school, and their local

Directions sessions to collaborate with

community by creating positive chalk

a foundation, UpSchool, to write and

pavement affirmations, messages in

illustrate picture books in support of a

bottles which they left on neighbours’

goal for greater literacy rates globally.

doorsteps and ways of being of service

Led by Mrs Michele Wilson, Year 6

in the home. These reflected simple

Co-ordinator, Year 6 students choose

acts of kindness which sought no

to collaborate with OzHarvest through

recognition or reward.

the Feast program to promote kindness

Once we were all back on campus in 2022, the Kindness Captains worked together with Mrs Kimberley Tyson, Deputy Head of Junior School – Students and I, to design and launch our Be of Service program, linking to the first fact for kindness to others. A review of the literature presents an increasing set of


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feel when they show kindness to others.

to the environment by educating themselves and others of ways to be more sustainable with food. Each grade choosing to partner with different charitable organisations evidences the growing momentum of kindness within our Junior School community, staff and students alike.

HOW DOES IT MAKE YOU FEEL WHEN YOU ARE KIND? (Where 10 is extremely happy and 1 not at all)

Number of participants Table 1: How does it make you feel when you are kind?

ACTION RESEARCH INTO KINDNESS Action research was undertaken throughout 2021 and 2022 to explore and analyse how a focus on kindness (as part of our social/emotional learning) could help the girls flourish as learners and leaders. As part of the action research data collection, 150 Junior School students completed a survey

• How kind are we, as a nation, to our First Nations people? • How kind are we, as a nation, to people of other cultures? • How kind are we, as a nation, to the elderly (defined as those over 75 years)?


to track their perceptions around how

It is evident from the data that most

kind we are currently within our Junior

students surveyed feel our Junior

School and as a nation.

School is a ‘kind’ school, with 90 per

Some students supplied comments to show their thinking behind the score they attributed to their response. Students were asked to record a numerical score out of ten for these questions: • How kind are we as a school (kindness to others)?

cent attributing a score of eight or more out of ten to the question. This data was further investigated with the same group of students by asking two additional questions; how kind are we within our Junior School to one another and how kind are we within our Junior School to ourselves.

• How kind are we to ourselves?

Working with Dr Sarah Loch, Director

• How kind are we, as a nation, to our

– Pymble Institute, Mrs Nerissa


Davey, Deputy Head of Junior School

Pymble Ladies’ College


The Kindness Revolution: Empowering children to flourish

It is evident from the data that most students surveyed feel our Junior School is a ‘kind’ school, with 90 per cent attributing a score of eight or more out of ten to the question.

AVERAGE SCORES FOR EACH QUESTION (Scored out of 10) How kind is my school? Importance of kindness How I feel when I am kind How I feel when someone is kind to me How I feel when someone is kind to the planet How kind are Australians to First Nations people How kind are Australians to flora How kind are Australians to fauna How kind are Australians to other cultures How kind are Australians to the elderly







Table 2: How kind are we?

IS OUR SCHOOL A KIND SCHOOL? (Where 10 is extremely and 1 not at all)



29 8 Number of respondents



Table 3: Is our school a kind school?

Operations and Mrs Kimberley Tyson,

score out of ten. A teacher took photos

Deputy Head of Junior School Students,

of these human graphs.

we asked the Year 5 students to form human bar graphs in response to each question using A3 sized numbers for easy use as the key. Students formed a human number line to represent their


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Following this, student representatives from each Year 5 class worked with Dr Sarah Loch and I to analyse the data, creating graphs and collecting anecdotal evidence as the narrative behind the data.

As the graphs evidence, there is significant disparity between how effectively we demonstrate kindness to others and how effectively we show kindness to ourselves. 59 per cent of students surveyed attributed only a score of one or two out of ten to in response to the question ‘How kind are we to ourselves?’

Only 9 per cent attributed a score of seven or eight to this question. No students attributed a score higher than an eight to this question. By contrast, 54 per cent of students attributed a score of nine or ten and 42 per cent attributed a score of seven or eight in response to the question ‘How kind are we to one another in our Junior School?’.

HOW KIND ARE WE TO OURSELVES? (Scored out of 10)

9% 10%



Score 1-2

Score 3-4

Score 5-6

Score 7-8

Table 4: How kind are we to ourselves?





Score 5-6

Score 7-8

Score 9-10

Table 5: How kind are we to one another in our Junior School?

Pymble Ladies’ College


The Kindness Revolution: Empowering children to flourish

‘ Maybe about 7 because some people don’t realise what they’re doing. They say something rude.’ ‘ Maybe about 6. People leave people out. It’s not the kindest thing we could do.’ ‘ A 9. We’ve got a lot of kindness. Some people get stuck in the middle of a friendship issue (that’s why it’s not 10).’ As we have Kindness Captains across the Junior School, I also interviewed the two Junior School Kindness Leaders for Semester 1; Eve Clarke and Isabella Eum, and asked them to vote and explain their thinking: ‘ A 7 or 6 Because people are very kind but not to themselves. They let themselves down. They need to do more to help the environment.’ ‘ A 7 or 6. We’re kind to others but it depends on the day. Not a good day for you but we’ve got kindness to others. We need kindness to self and the environment.’ Twenty per cent of students attributed a score of six or less when reflecting on how kind they see we are, as a nation, to our First Nations People. By comparison, and more heartening, is the fact that no student attributed a score less than four to the question about how kind we are, as a nation, to people from other cultures. Nine per cent of students attributed a Figure 2: Human bar graphs to rate levels of kindness

We interviewed students to hear the

score of six or less to that question.

narrative behind the score they had

‘ We now realise First Nations People

allocated to these two questions:

were here first, but there is still a lot of

‘ I think it’s around 3 or 4 because most

discrimination. We could and should

days we talk about kindness, but our

respect them more’.

class needs to remember to be kind.’

‘ People are sometimes judged based on

‘ Maybe a 5. Some people are mean

their skin colour or traditions’.

on purpose, not kind to the teachers.

‘We believe in equal rights’.

They interrupt.’ 46

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‘ We now realise First Nations People were here first, but there is still a lot of discrimination. We could and should respect them more’.

IN AUSTRALIA, HOW KIND ARE WE TO FIRST NATIONS PEOPLE? (Where 10 is extremely and 1 not at all)









Number of respondents Table 6: Kindness to First Nations people

IN AUSTRALIA, HOW KIND ARE WE TO PEOPLE FROM OTHER CULTURES? (Where 10 is extremely and 1 not at all)








Number of respondents Table 7: How kind are we to people from other cultures?

Pymble Ladies’ College


The Kindness Revolution: Empowering children to flourish

As a part of our increasing focus on building an understanding of

IN AUSTRALIA, HOW KIND ARE WE TO FLORA – PLANTS, TREES AND FLOWERS? (Where 10 is extremely and 1 not at all)

our First Nations People, we are building partnerships and exchange opportunities for Year 5 students with schools in Dubbo, in regional New South Wales, a project Mrs Nerissa Davey, Deputy Head of Junior School Operations is now leading. Sixteen per cent of respondents scored our nation as a five or less when considering the levels of kindness shown to the environment. Twenty seven per cent attributed a very high score (nine or ten). Eighteen percent of respondents attributed a score of a five or less when




considering our nation’s level of kindness to our native wildlife and 28 per cent







Number of respondents Table 8: How kind are we to flora?

attributed a very high score (nine or ten). ‘ We keep cutting down trees even


though it’s destroying our planet – why?’

(Where 10 is extremely and 1 not at all)

As a result of their concern about deforestation, Year 6 students led an initiative to partner with the One Tree Planted Foundation. The students gifted their mothers a tree on Mother’s Day 2022, planting 200 new trees within Australia in honour of their mothers.






Number of respondents Table 9: How kind are we to fauna?


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DISCUSSION OF THE ACTION RESEARCH DATA Whilst it’s positive to see the students view our school culture as a kind one, it is evident there is significant room for improvement on how our students are showing kindness to themselves as learners and as young people. This data will be used to inform future Directions sessions. We will continue to work with the girls to explore ways we can help them unpack their sense of self-worth and personal strengths and how they can take appropriate action to show increased levels of

Figure 3: Kate Brown with Year 5 students discussing issues relevant to include in the Kindness Convention

kindness to themselves in their daily routine. Similarly, we will work to build the girls’ thinking around ways they can help our nation grow in deeper understanding and respect for our First Nations People. In response to the Year 5 students’ engagement with the research process, Dr Sarah Loch is also looking to establish a Junior School Ethics Committee, thereby continuing to develop students as researchers and empowering student voice.


Figure 4: Year 5 students preparing ideas for the Pymble Junior School Kindness Convention

As a College, we hosted our inaugural Children’s Kindness Convention on 15 June 2022. The aim of the Convention is to provide an opportunity for 100 Year 5 students from schools across Sydney to collaborate and ideate solutions to social issues they identify using the lens of kindness. Focus groups were run with Year 5 students to hear what matters to them, the concerns they see as most relevant in their world and why they see kindness as a powerful resource in our world today. Figure 5: Brainstorm from the Kindness Convention

Pymble Ladies’ College


The Kindness Revolution: Empowering children to flourish

The issues explored by the children at the Convention included: •

The plight of koalas

• The amount of plastic waste in our oceans •

The decline of the Great Barrier Reef

Online behaviour to others and self

• The increase of household waste; particualrly food waste • The plight of bees and other pollinators • Mental health concerns for young people and access to support services • Fast fashion and its impact on our landfill •

Caring for children in foster care

The literacy gap within Australia

The hope is that the Convention acts as a call to action for the students and empowers them with passion and determination to lead positive change in their schools and communities, thereby increasing the scope of kindness throughout the Greater Sydney region.

Students have responded to the focus on kindness in a myriad of creative and independent ways. Younger students have designed posters, imagined schools of the future with Kindness Labs and written letters to me explaining their feelings around kindness in our school and community. Older students have crafted poems, led community initiatives (Gumboot Day for the families of the floods and the planting of a kindness garden in our Junior School to encourage greater awareness and responsibility for the environment) and advocated for the inclusion of kindness as one of our College values. In 2021, the Junior School community was invited to participate in a collaborative recording of a kindness poem written by me to encourage kindness to others through an increased focus on inclusivity. I hoped that a

Students in Year 5 have designed the

celebration of our diversity of culture

logo for the Convention, aiming to

within the Junior School would heighten

provide a clear visual message for the

our sense of a kindness community

Convention’s mission.

where each individual is valued for their

To increase the impact of kindness within our College, we offered Secondary students roles in planning, marketing and running the Convention and students Figure 6: Three logo designs made by Year 5 students for the Kindness Convention


from Years 8 to 12 responded to this leadership opportunity.

unique self. This poem was recorded and shared with the community and girls in the Junior School from Years 3 to 6 also illustrated the text and this poem will be published into a book with the aim of selling it at the annual Garden Party to raise money for charity.



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Significant evidence of the impact of the kindness initiative came from a student who joined the Junior School this year. She said she was so surprised that student ideas were ‘… not just heard but listened to in our Junior School and then our ideas are allowed to come to life’ – Marla (Year 4) There is much evidence that kindness is building momentum within our school community and the girls are leading this impact. One Year 5 student explained, when thinking about what the world would look like if everyone was kind, ‘Kindness is the way we

Figure 7: Pitching the idea of a Kindness House

‘ K indness is the way we should live, it should be a global form of communicating joy and love through actions’.

should live, it should be a global form of communicating joy and love through actions’.

Figure 8: Year 2 student, Davina, writes to Mrs Brown about the kindness initiative

References Lim, M., Lambert, G., Thurston, L., Argent, T., Eres, R. et al. (2020). Survey of Health and Wellbeing – Monitoring the Impact of COVID-19. Swinburne University of Technology: Iverson Health Innovation Research Institute. UNESCO. (6 March, 2020). COVID-19: 10 Recommendations to plan distance learning solutions. covid-19-10-recommendations-plan-distancelearning-solutions.

Figure 9: Student brainstorm, If everyone was kind...

Pymble Ladies’ College


Creating worlds of research in their school Dr Sarah Loch Director – Pymble Institute

INTRODUCTION School-based research centres of different kinds are growing (Furze, 2022) and are well positioned to act as a hinge between school communities and university faculties and researchers. Launched in 2021, the Pymble Institute is one such centre. Its mission is to conduct research and professional

hence the focus of this paper. This paper considers ways tertiary-based research activities provide a good fit and benefit for students at Pymble, but I also question whether existing structures could restrict school students’ perceptions of research.


learning which drives thinking forward

Schools with research centres, currently

to improve outcomes for women and

usually the larger, independent schools,

girls. A strand of the Pymble Institute’s

can develop their own centres according

mission relates to activating critical

to strategy, mission and opportunity.

awareness towards research amongst

Visits to a number of schools in the USA

students and increasing students’ skills

and Canada, with established research

and opportunities in conducting and

centres, revealed these centres can

using research to change the world.

serve a specific pedagogical purpose

As director of the Pymble Institute, I am responsible for building the research culture in the College. I began by supporting teachers and students to undertake inquiry and research, then, to grow the culture further, began intentionally translating activities from the (tertiary) world of research to the (primary and secondary) school context. This student-focused aspect, with activities clustered around research design, ethical processes, data

(e.g. to conduct research into training teachers to teach in a certain way) or a specific culture and wellbeing purpose (e.g. to conduct research in and present research about topics that the school is championing) (Loch, 2020). They can also act as portals through which universities connect with the school to conduct research, and provide opportunities, support and networks for school staff undertaking action research or postgraduate studies. The relationship

with students and ways students collection, analysis, findings, and written, connect with the research centre is verbal and visual communication of especially important in my context, but research, has been developing for a few years, and I am surprised by how well tertiary-based research activities have seeded in the school context.


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is not a key feature of all school-based research centres. The focus of most school-based research centres seems to be adults – teachers, other school staff,

Whilst pleasing, this success is raising

university academics and researchers

new questions and there is merit in

from other organisations – and inquiry

critically retracing the terrain traversed,

into teaching, learning, leading and

pastoral care for children and young people. To this end, contributing to research into what a research-culture looks like in a school with students at the fore and core is a timely and important endeavour. As there are limited models for ‘creating a context where action and research are tightly connected …. [to] develop an approach to social change together’ (Keddie, 2021, p.11) through student perspectives, this is a valuable area to explore.

FOUR STORIES – BUILDING A RESEARCH CULTURE WITH STUDENTS IN MIND I begin with a reflection on what a good fit conventional, researchoriented behaviours appear to be in my school. Pymble students, from Junior School to Year 12, working with me on committees, projects and events, seem inspired by structures more

Figure 1: Year 5 researchers attend the Student Research Conference with Dr Loch

create presentations or posters for peers which give feedback on research students participated in; organise to meet professional researchers to ask about their work before committing to a project with them, etc.

commonly used by university students

The following four stories illuminate

and academics than school students.

aspects of students’ experiences and

My reflections lead me to see how we

ways the research culture is being shaped

are building research culture at Pymble

at Pymble. The first is from the school

by giving students opportunities to

ethics committee where an application

behave like researchers. They appear

from a PhD researcher is reviewed. This

energised by invitations to get involved

experience reveals the expertise students

with research and in sync with my belief

bring to research ethics. The second

that they can go further and deeper into

recounts a data collection activity with

projects that matter to them by learning

primary students and highlights creative

languages and protocols of research. I

and open-ended ways to do this. The

witness meaningful intellectual growth

third gives insights into the co-planning

as students volunteer to write and

of a research conference with the

re-write survey questions for areas

student convenors of the event, and

they wish to investigate more fully.

the final story shares the evolution of a

I see students work in teams to analyse

student academic research club.

survey data; participate in or help run focus groups to collect different data;

Pymble Ladies’ College


Creating worlds of research in schools

There is strong agreement the topic is worthwhile as it can assist students and teachers at our school and others, but uncertainty about the best way teachers should teach. What if the outcomes ask schools to change what they do? This uncertainty helps the group be assured of the value of the project and they are keen to ensure the school learns of the project’s outcomes. Some training for the group is conducted at the same time when notions of risk and harm, confidentiality, gaining active consent and ways to share back after the conclusion of the project are discussed. As the primary students will not be filmed or interviewed, the Figure 2: A research activity on research is set up in the foyer of the Gillian Moore Centre for Performing Arts

Ethics Committee

who participate. They do not want the teachers to feel they must consent, but

members of the academic and

they like the idea of the teachers being

professional staff, external academics

able to attend debriefing meetings with

and students from Year 8 to Year 11.

the PhD student to get feedback.

student who is a teacher at another school. Her study concerns ability grouping in primary mathematics. Everyone has been emailed the application a week in advance and the meeting focuses on whether and how the project will benefit women, girls and

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of research will be like for the teachers

The Pymble Ethics Committee includes

For discussion is a project from a PhD


students focus on what the experience

The discussion needs to wrap up as lunch is ending, but there is support for the project. I compile the feedback to share with the applicant, although we’ll soon be allocating specific job roles amongst the committee, so this task will be given to a student in the near future.

the College, and suggestions for the

Collecting data

applicant to consider.

Kindergarten to Year 6 students are

There is much to read as the applicant

working with the Head of Junior

has forwarded her university human

School to collect data on kindness.

research ethics form, with appendices.

The Head of Junior School is presenting

Students are invited to only read

at a conference and will include

certain sections but most seem to

the student research in her slides. With

give the whole application a go. The

limited time available, three 20 minute

students readily engage in the research

sessions in the wellbeing program are

question by recalling some of their own

available to collect data which can be

memories of learning maths in primary

used by the teacher and students.

school and techniques they found

The data needs to be concrete enough

(and still find) more, or less, effective.

for students to analyse, and conceptual

enough to ensure students know their views are represented at the upcoming Kindness Convention the Junior School is holding. The Kindness Captains from each class meet the Head of Junior School and I to brainstorm how kind students think they are and how we can know this. From the discussion, three questions emerge: how kind do you think students at our school are to (i) themselves, (ii) other students, and (iii) the environment. We try forming histograms (human bar graphs) in response to each question but need to make do with small A4 sheets with numbers written on. In further sessions, A3 size numbers are printed for easy use and students stand along a line for each item to rate their views out of ten. A teacher goes to the balcony above the hall to take photos of the histograms. Following this, student leaders from each class work with me to analyse the data. We find that using graphs to understand data is a core part of the Mathematics curriculum, so students bring a lot of knowledge to the task. Convening a conference Two senior students are working with me to organise a student research conference, the first we have held. In setting the program, the students create a draft program to balance keynotes, break out and parallel sessions. They want to design a program which invites experienced researchers to share their knowledge with the students attending. I am concerned the program might be too adult-centric and suggest some school student presenters be included, but the student organisers are clear that they and their peers need role models working in different fields of research to teach them what they need to know. Figure 3: Images of Year 5 students analysing data on kindness

Pymble Ladies’ College


Creating worlds of research in schools

There will be time and encouragement for student researchers from different schools to present at the conference next year. Capacity building in research skills These same students also translated an adult-centric idea into student-form. A number of us from Pymble, other schools and universities participate in a monthly journal club to share education research. After I had described the club to the students one day, they asked if they could start one with peers from other schools and run a student version. Junior Journal Club ran for a couple of online sessions but it didn’t work smoothly due to the differences in school timetables. The same senior students have now re-configured the journal club into an academic research club which meets face to face each fortnight with students from our school. The leaders are teaching their peers how academic research articles are written, then they look at examples in different fields of research, and are working towards writing their own. Upwards of twenty students are attending the meetings.

DEVELOPING THE RESEARCH CULTURE IN OUR SCHOOL Readers with awareness of academic research cultures will recognise that the patterning in Pymble’s research activities for students is building familiarity and capacity, as well as giving opportunities to experience and engage in research. Together, the activities create a platform, as they not only lay out the features of a research culture – where one activity begets another – reading journal articles, writing them, presenting at conferences, Figure 3: Sessions from the inaugural Pymble Student Research Conference


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attending conferences, building

Hence, the question which spurred

networks, taking and using feedback,

this paper, do tertiary-based research

designing research projects, participating

activities provide a good fit and benefit

in research, giving feedback to others,

for students at Pymble, seems settled in

but allow students of different ages and

the affirmative. Critical reflection reveals it

stages to build language, understanding

has been surprisingly easy to explain both

and experience in research. Although

individual research activities to students,

strongly rooted in tertiary-level models,

as well as to engage them in the full

our school-based research culture allows

cycle or parts of it. It makes a lot of sense

students to dip in and out and become

to school students to balance a quest

increasingly more familiar with what

for new knowledge with expectations to

research involves.

apply and test it, share it through some

As might be expected, research into school-based research cultures is limited, but research into a New Zealand undergraduate program highlights the importance of providing greater opportunities for awareness about and experiences with research for first and second year tertiary students (SpronkenSmith, Mirosa & Darrou, 2014). Positive impacts on student learning include deeper connection with the topic, feeling more motivated and inspired, learning research skills and putting theory into action. Engagement with the research culture at the university at an undergraduate stage also inspires some to plan postgraduate study. This approach is relevant for school students where cultivating a love

form of output, work with feedback and

Positive impacts on student learning include deeper connection with the topic, feeling more motivated and inspired, learning research skills and putting theory into action.

take cues from the exemplary models (papers, presentations, etc) of more experienced others. It also makes a lot of sense to complete the research activity in a set time frame and with limited resources. School students, it seems, are well placed to appreciate the realities of research! Evidence shows that students at my school are building a research culture and they take from, seek out and alter university research structures to suit. There is an inherent love of and respect for scholarship which motivates students to want to learn how it is done before they seek to do research very differently.


of learning brings lifelong benefits.

The second question now comes

Andrew Cheetham, former Pro Vice

into focus – could existing structures

Chancellor – Research, Western Sydney

restrict school students’ perceptions of

University, identifies effective research

research? The answer is also affirmative.

cultures as beginning in secondary

There is much afoot which will improve

school where he asserts research

research cultures through diversifying

is a learned behaviour. Progressing

them and school students, attending

through secondary into tertiary levels of

schools with student-focused research

education, the behaviours associated

centres and/or research cultures, will

with research gain more significance

hopefully produce high school graduates

and become the research culture ‘that

who do not wait until the latter years of

allows us to understand and evaluate

tertiary study to contribute to research

the research activity’ (2007, p.5).

cultures in their universities, work places and sites of service and volunteering. Pymble Ladies’ College


Creating worlds of research in schools

Teachers and academic research partners working in schools, and adults working with students on research, are already shaping new worlds of research and the experiences, successes, failures, blindspots and illuminations are collectively what build our new research cultures.

There are a number of elements for

is something that can be explored in

researchers of the future to consider;

school through the diversity of our

namely, ethics, approach and attitude.

classrooms and communities. Research

The following insights from literature

will be immeasurably improved when

conclude this paper and point to

researchers bring a lifetime of experience

meaningful changes that are coming

in celebrating and enjoying diversity to

to research cultures in universities,

their practice, whatever their age.

but ones that school-based research centres can adopt immediately, and even begin to lead. Kindness

journals is questioning openness and transparency through the reportage of data. There is potential for science

philanthropic organisation which funds

journals, in their policies, to provide

science research to improve health

incentives and structures to ensure

outcomes. It recently ‘call[ed] out

the reproducibility and transparency of

hyper-competitiveness in research and

results are communicated more openly,

question[ed] the focus on excellence’

for example, detailing ‘both null results

which emphasises research output over

and statistically significant results … [to]

how research is conducted (Nature,

help others more accurately assess

2019). Wellcome has been praised

the evidence base for a phenomenon’

for its leadership in working from the

(Science, 2014). The Transparency

funding level to ‘build a better research

Openness Promotion (TOP) Guidelines

culture – one that is creative, inclusive

are eight standards which guide

and honest’ (Wellcome, 2022); one that

authors and journals in recognising and

includes kindness in its mission.

promoting open science practices.


Also relating to ways research is

culture, that of multiculturalism and respect for cultural diversity and difference, Barbara Ridley (2011, p. 295) writes of ‘the buzz’ within United Kingdom university research cultures which pivot around people discussing, debating and arguing, quite often with passion and aggression. She highlights a striking difference in research culture in Ethiopia which attends to cultural norms where silence and caution predominate. Building capacity in intercultural research methodologies and mindsets

Illuminate Research and Innovation | Edition 7 2022

A development in publishing in science

The Wellcome Trust is a UK-based,

Considering another aspect of research



communicated is the accessibility of journal articles. School students seeking access to journal articles, such as Pymble’s academic research club, are acutely aware of the challenges of sourcing quality research from behind publisher paywalls (the databases available in schools are not as extensive as university library ones) and recognise and appreciate journals which make more articles available via ‘open source’. They see the value in participating in more open source research environments.

CONCLUSION The Finnish National Board on Research Integrity (2022) has an extensive collection of articles on issues researchers need be across, including social impact, research integrity, data protection, authorship agreements and metadata; pointing to the construction of ‘the researcher of the future’. Due to the complexity and importance of issues in research, it is reassuring some school students are engaging in research sooner rather than later. Once they get to university, whether the structures and processes guiding research remain the same as today or are vastly different, earlier experiences in research will have shaped the behaviour of the researchers of the future and helped to bring about the diversity of thought research endeavours increasingly require to meet needs in our communities. People in roles like myself are in positions of immense privilege to enable school students to hold a space in research and with this opportunity comes great responsibility. Teachers and academic research partners working in schools, and adults working with students on research, are already shaping new worlds of research and the experiences, successes, failures, blindspots and illuminations are collectively what build our new research cultures. Today’s school students (tomorrow’s researchers) will be leaders in furthering inclusive, creative and bold approaches to research as they spring further from habits developed in their school years and apply these in their

References Cheetham, A. (2007, May 4). Address to Academic Senate: Growing a research culture. University of Western Sydney. chrome-extension:// efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/viewer. html? pdfurl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww. data%2Fassets%2Fpdf_ file%2F0018%2F7119%2FItem_3.6_Building_a_ Research_Culture__Tabled_Doc.pdf. Finnish National Board on Research Integrity (TENK). (2022, April 20). Responsible research: Guide to research integrity, research ethics and science communication in Finland. Furze, A. (2022, April 23). Schools’ research hubs put insights into action. Australian Financial Review, S2-S3. Keddie, A. (2019). The difficulties of ‘action’ in Youth Participatory Action Research: Schoolifying YPAR in two elite settings. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, https://doi. 10.1080/01596306.2019.1696747. Loch, S. (2020). Global perspectives: School research centres. Illuminate: Research and Innovation, 4, 50-53, Sydney: Pymble Ladies’ College. A kinder research culture is possible. (2019, 1 October). Nature, 574, 5-6, https://www. Nosek, B.A., Alter, G., Banks, G., Borsboom, D., Bowman, S.D., Breckler, S.J., Buck, S., Chambers, C.D., Chin, G., Christensen, G., Contestabile, M., Dafoe, A., Eich, E., Freese, J., Glennerster, R., Goroff, D., Green, D.P., Hesse, B., Humphreys, … & Yarkoni, T. (2015). Promoting an open research culture. Science, 348(6242), 1422-1425, DOI: 10.1126/science. aab2374. Spronken-Smith, R., Mirosa, R., & Darrou, M. (2014). ‘Learning is an endless journey for anyone’: Undergraduate awareness, experiences and perceptions of the research culture in a research-intensive university. Higher Education Research & Development, 33(2), 355-371, https://doi. 10.1080/07294360.2013.832169. Wellcome. (2022, April 20). Research culture: Let’s reimagine how we work together. research-culture.

research-rich futures.

Pymble Ladies’ College


What works best in HSC teaching at Pymble? Melissa McMahon Assistant Principal Curriculum (Acting), Oakhill College Formerly, Director of Teaching Excellence, Pymble Ladies’ College

BACKGROUND/AIMS AND THE RESEARCH LITERATURE This action-research study has been undertaken to understand what teaching strategies lead to HSC success at Pymble Ladies’ College and it is a key component of the 2021 HSC

The project raises broader questions about what constitutes HSC success, however, for the purposes of this project, the spotlight is on those strategies being employed by teachers whose students have a very strong learning gain in the NSW HSC.

Improvement strategy. I conducted

This research project acknowledges that

a Literature Review with the Director

a number of factors contribute to HSC

of Teacher Growth in February 2021

success and many of these became

entitled, “HSC Improvement: Reducing

apparent during the course of the short

in-school variance in teacher practice

and concentrated study. Some of these

to improve student learning outcomes”.

factors will be discussed throughout,

The literature compelled me to study

however, the protracted time frame of

our highly impactful teachers in an

the study meant that the focus needed to

effort to understand and share what

remain tightly on pedagogical practice.

constitutes successful HSC teaching in

The rationale for this choice is strongly

a Pymble context.

supported by the research literature

Research conducted over decades indicates that teachers, rather than schools, make the most difference in student learning outcomes. Variance between classrooms, rather than between schools, accounts for the largest barrier to student progress. Masters (2012) states that the challenge of schools is to get all teachers doing

that emphasises the highly significant impact of effective teaching strategies on student outcomes. A number of interesting findings emerged about teacher identity, which will be touched upon, but these may be the focus of more extensive study in the future.


what the best already do and also

Identification of the teachers for the

support the best teachers to develop

study was the most significant challenge

still more effective classroom practices.

of the project as it raised challenging

Hattie (2015) concurs, arguing that we

and important questions about what

need to leverage off our most effective

constitutes a highly impactful HSC

practitioners to build capacity in all.

teacher. Is it the proportion of Band 6

So, what is it that a highly impactful

results, state rankings, student ‘value-

HSC teacher does in their classroom

add’ or something less quantifiable?

that leads to excellent HSC outcomes?

As the focus was impact, the decision

How can we draw upon this untapped

was made to choose teachers whose

resource to ensure students in every

students achieved very strong growth,

classroom are achieving strong growth?

based on Class Scaled Score data from Academic Assessment Services.


Illuminate Research and Innovation | Edition 7 2022

There were limitations to this data set,

grounded research, discovering theory

however, as value-add scores have only

from Pymble data about what works

been available for two years. The pool

best in our classrooms, for our students.

was then broadened to include teachers who have been impactful based on other measures such as Band 6 percentages and state rankings. A number of teachers identified for the study were not teaching Year 12 in 2021, which then discounted them as I was interested particularly in HSC teaching strategies.

The field notes were painstakingly coded into categories after all of the lesson observations and interviews were complete. A random sample of each class was also surveyed. The field data from the observations informed the types of questions that were framed. The survey questions were designed

As such, the 13 teachers studied

after the majority of the observations

were a representative sample of our

were completed and a rough outline of

highly impactful staff members. It

common strategies had been formed.

was important to make this clear in

The questions were largely closed-

communications with teachers as

response questions, with one open-

Pymble has an array of outstanding

ended question about the strategies that

practitioners and a study such as this,

work well for students personally.

completed by an internal staff member, runs the risk of alienating staff members


not asked to participate.

Due to the time and resource-bound

Once the list of teachers was finalised,

nature of this action research, the

13 practitioners were observed

focus was narrowed to the impactful

teaching at least twice and this was

teaching and learning strategies

followed by an interview, during

employed by highly successful HSC

which background information was

teachers. The study illuminated,

collected about teachers’ experiences,

however, important insights into teacher

education, professional learning and

identity, professional development and

participation in HSC exam setting

the culture of the senior classroom

and marking. The observation was

at Pymble, which clearly influence

conducted in a completely unstructured

student outcomes. Whilst these are not

way (everything recorded for analysis

the primary focus, they are worthy of

later), with the field notes constituting

attention. Some initial findings regarding

a running record of the lesson. I chose

teacher identity and professional

this particular method of collecting

development are detailed below.

data as a means of unlearning my

Ayres, Dinham and Sawyer (1999)

preconceptions about effective

identify seven factors contributing to

teaching. I have read many studies of

HSC teaching success, namely; school

effective HSC teaching and I wanted

background, subject faculty, personal

to enter into the observation with

qualities, professional development,

preconceptions stowed away. Rather

rapport, teaching strategies and

than applying a set of predetermined

resources. For the representative sample,

principles of quality teaching on to the

it was evident that the range of factors

observations, I sought to undertake

outlined above contribute strongly to

Pymble Ladies’ College


What works best in HSC teaching at Pymble?

HSC success and it would be worthwhile

This beggars the question, does

to investigate these factors further.

experience equate to expertise?

A teacher may employ a range of the

It is noteworthy that several of the

high impact strategies described below

teachers studied have supplemented

in their senior classroom, however, if

their teaching experience with further

they do not possess deep discipline

study, participation and leadership

knowledge or deep understanding of

in professional associations and

HSC requirements or sufficient passion,

participation in HSC setting and marking

will they make a significant impact on

processes. Their engagement with

student performance?

the subject does not end with the

High impact HSC teachers have cultivated a great repertoire of strategies to support the growth of their students. These pedagogical practices were in common across the disparate disciplines. Maths teachers were, in essence, applying the same strategies as the Drama and the Languages teachers, for instance. These strategies are explored under “High Impact Strategies.”

TEACHER IDENTITY, DISCIPLINE KNOWLEDGE AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT Teachers in the study demonstrated deep domain-specific knowledge and exuded passion for their discipline. In the survey of students, 90 per cent of students strongly agreed that their teacher demonstrates deep discipline knowledge. This was corroborated by lesson observations and the interviews with teachers. Teacher passion for the subject was also strongly indicated by students, with 100 per cent of students agreeing or strongly agreeing that their teacher demonstrates passion for his/ her subject.


Illuminate Research and Innovation | Edition 7 2022

classroom. One of the teachers has been teaching 15 years, has been an HSC marker for 8, Vice President of the professional association and she holds a Masters’ degree. Another teacher studied holds two Masters’ degrees in her discipline, has marked and judged for over 20 years and teaches undergraduate education students in the methodology of teaching. As per below, seven of the 11 had very significant HSC marking, exam setting or judging experience. Pymble data would suggest that the more teachers engage with their discipline outside the classroom, through opportunities such as further study, leadership in professional associations and HSC marking, the stronger the learning outcomes for students.

DEEP UNDERSTANDING OF REQUIREMENTS OF HSC Highly impactful teachers demonstrate insightful understanding of what success looks like in their subject and this was supported by the student survey, observation and interview. 95 per cent of survey respondents agreed that their teacher knows what is required for

Of the 11 teachers studied, 10 had 15 or

the HSC and this knowledge is shared

more years’ experience teaching their

readily with the class. 70 per cent of

subject, which may partly account for

the participants had very significant

deep discipline knowledge. Eight of the

HSC exam setting, marking or judging

11 had 20 or more years.


Five of the teachers had been involved in HSC marking processes for over 20 years and these teachers have been on exam

Deep discipline knowledge

setting committees, they have acted as marker, senior marker and judge. Their understanding of the success criteria was clear in all lessons observed and was readily shared with students. Students also articulated that effective

Very confident understanding of HSC requirements

teachers explicitly teach exam

Professional networks Teacher

techniques (87 per cent). Teachers regularly referred to past HSC questions in Year 12 lessons, with a consciousness of HSC requirements also in Year 11 classes, even if less explicit. Indeed, five


HSC marking/ judging/setting

of the teachers observed were using past HSC questions in some part of the lesson observed. The lessons were observed in May, which is months out from the Trial HSC. From the student perspective, the

Figure 1: Components of teacher identity which contribute to skills as an HSC teacher


number one strategy identified as being

Learning as a highly social practice

impactful for them was regular HSC

was observed in every classroom

practice. Many students referred to these

within the study. Lessons were highly

sample or past questions being used at

interactive and dynamic, with students

the start of the lesson and being timed.

and teachers across the curriculum

One student stated that she appreciated,

engaged in constant dialogue about

“when we get time in class to practise the the learning. There was a sense of “team” in every class with teachers and questions – not leaving us on our own post the lesson.” Working through HSC

students learning and co-constructing

questions collaboratively as a class was

knowledge together. The student survey

also appreciated by students.

corroborated this finding, with 94 per cent of respondents stating that their

Despite the fact that the influence of

teachers were “always” actively involved

the HSC could be felt in classrooms,

in the lesson. In one of the interviews, a

they were not in any way, exam

teacher said, “I treat us like a team.”

drilling factories. In every classroom, students were challenged to think,

This was corroborated by students in

problem solve and apply knowledge

the survey. Direct quotes such as, “we

of the discipline. There was a high

work through it as a class”, “engaging in

level of excitement about the content

the class together” and “going through

as teachers and students discussed,

work as a class”, indicate the importance

debated or problem-solved together in

of collaboration and co-construction.

the learning community.

Pymble Ladies’ College


What works best in HSC teaching at Pymble?

Teachers exhibited strong rapport with students during lessons and several indicated in their interview that rapport was key to HSC success.

Indeed, notes were made in a very

He then asked students to draw on

collaborative, visual way (as per

knowledge of cases they had studied in

the section on Class Notes) and

the past two years. Teachers exhibited

this contributed to the culture of

strong rapport with students during


lessons and several indicated in their

This collaboration and, indeed, the breaking down of the expert-novice relationships, was also evident spatially. The Performing Arts teacher was in the circle performing with the students, the Maths and Science teachers were problem solving with the students and the English teachers had arranged the class in a circle, of which they were a part. This symbolically reflected

interview that rapport was key to HSC success. The classrooms were also highly productive, with little to no ‘dead’ time. Students swiftly transitioned between tasks and when students were working independently, the teachers were constantly giving feedback and checking in on student progress.


the learning community and it was

In their interviews, a number of teachers

reinforced by the teachers actively

talked about intentionally instilling self-

engaged in analysing the texts with the

efficacy in students. A Maths teacher

students. In History, the students sat in a

spoke specifically about tasting success

cluster close to the front and there was

early on and this was reinforced by the

a strong feeling of interdependence in

Languages teacher and Legal Studies

the class, with students and the teacher

teacher. The Languages teacher said,

relying on one another to contribute to

“It is all about believing in them”. She

the organisation of the notes and essay

deliberately sets work that is pitched

plans. In one of the History lessons

above the current level of the students

observed, a past HSC question was

and feels that students rise to the

displayed and the teacher went to sit

level set by the teacher. This was also

amongst the students. One student

affirmed by one of the Chemistry

was appointed as scribe and the class

teachers who mentioned Vygotsky’s

collaborated on an essay plan together,

Zone of Proximal Development. He sets

with the teacher asking a question to

a challenging question at the beginning

prompt student thinking from time

of a unit to pre-test knowledge and

to time. In Chemistry, students were

sets that same question three times

working on a practice task, with all

throughout the unit to show students

students allocated a different compound how far they have come. This excellent strategy picks up on some of the key to work. The data/results were then shared. In Legal Studies, students and

high impact strategies outlined below:

teacher were collaboratively building

metacognition, formative assessment

‘team’ paragraphs in response to a past

and feedback, and challenge.

question. The teacher asked, “What do we already know about domestic violence that links to the question?”


Illuminate Research and Innovation | Edition 7 2022

HIGH IMPACT STRATEGIES Application and Challenge


The lessons of high impact teachers are dynamic, active spaces. Students are engaged in problem solving,

Learning communitycollaborative

Self efficacy/ confidence

reasoning with evidence, interpreting and analysing and drawing conclusions. There is a high level of challenge at the instructional core, both in terms of

Student agency


content and what students are being asked to do. There was not a classroom observed where students were passively receiving information.

High expectations

Teacher always active

In fact, application was the means through which content was taught,

High trust

consolidated and revised. It was also the means through which gaps

Figure 2: Factors contributing to effective classroom culture

were identified and feedback given. Students’ own responses/evidence of

One teacher asked, “How are you

learning were the salient focus of the

going to judge the effectiveness in

large majority of lessons observed.

your response?” Students began

In a Chemistry lesson, students were

brainstorming essay points on the board

given a past HSC question on A3 paper

before the teacher then started to ask

to solve in pairs. The teacher made the

students to organise, categorise, cluster

learning visible and tangible by giving

and prioritise information. By doing this,

students physical models to use to

both teachers were asking students to

solve the problem and students had

interpret and make judgements about

to explain to the class their process for

what they had learnt. Colour-coding,

solving it. Students were, therefore,

pie charts and diagrams were utilised

not only actively engaged, they were

effectively to help students clarify and

asked to share (in a jigsaw formation)

organise thinking.

and to articulate their process of learning

Consolidation/retrieval practice and

(metacognition). This served to make


thinking processes visible and this was common to many classes. In this activity, the teacher cleverly timed the activity to mirror the HSC timing, a practice also observed in other Science classes. In the Modern History lessons observed, the highly experienced practitioners were calling on students to make reasoned judgements about content throughout.

All the teachers observed were constantly reinforcing, rehearsing and clarifying knowledge. This occurred not only at the beginning of lessons, but throughout. The methods of consolidation were quite consistent across the high impact teachers. They were using questions and activities to reinforce knowledge and skills, rather than lecturing.

Pymble Ladies’ College


What works best in HSC teaching at Pymble?

The students surveyed also felt strongly that constant check-ins in the form of questions asked of students every lesson had an impact on their learning.

In Maths, both teachers observed began

Embedded formative assessment and

with mini-lessons during which students


answered revision questions. One teacher called this “OBQ”, Open Book Quiz. Each lesson starts in the same way, so students immediately know what to do when they walk into the room. Both teachers displayed the quiz, stored in the collaborative OneNote, on the screen and a few minutes into the quiz, they began to prompt students to share their working, which was recorded on the screen (and then saved in the

and collecting evidence of learning. What was very impactful in some classes, was that teachers were asking students not just for the answers, but students were required to explain their learning process. All of the formative evaluation happened in the context of the question or activity students were doing. The students surveyed also felt strongly

said, “This is the fourth time we have

that constant check-ins in the form of

done this style of question. What is the

questions asked of students every lesson

first thing I can get a mark for? How do

had an impact on their learning. As one

I get my second mark?” In her interview,

student stated in the survey, “Calling on

the teacher stated that retrieval practice

students to induce discussion, asking us

(constant reinforcement of knowledge

questions rather than telling us, calling

through revision tasks and tests) was key

upon students to answer questions

to HSC success for students. Retrieval

in every class keeps us engaged [are

strategy was also identified by the Legal

strategies that work for me]”.

Studies teacher as a key factor in the

In one Chemistry class, the students

success of his HSC students.

were using mini whiteboards to draw

A structure in common to the Maths

molecules and show evidence of

classes was as follows:

learning. At a glance, the teacher could

• Quiz revising prior knowledge –

see whether students had grasped the

• Identification of gaps in prior •

concept. She asked one of the students to explain solubility to the others and

knowledge – demonstration

demonstrate her understanding through

New knowledge – direct instruction

a diagram on the board. During the

• Opportunity for students to apply

Open Book Quiz, the Maths teachers

new knowledge

were asking questions such as, “What


are our next steps? What did you do

Both History teachers observed were working through a past HSC question with the students. Students and teacher were collaborating on an essay plan, which afforded the opportunity to revise content. These purposefully combined consolidation tasks were combined with the constant student check-in, as outlined below.

Illuminate Research and Innovation | Edition 7 2022

checking-in on student understanding

notebook). One of the Maths teachers



In every class, teachers were constantly

here? Can you have a negative standard deviation? Why?” In Physics, the teacher asked, “How do I get to my velocity vector, what do I do? Who equals zero here? Why?” In Chemistry, students were analysing data they had collected in an experiment. The teacher asked, “Were your results reliable? What does reliable mean? What should we be looking for to identify reliability?”

The constant check-ins provided the opportunity to revise key metalanguage and concepts, and consolidate knowledge in context. Another Chemistry teacher was observed also walking around the room checking in as

In the four History lessons observed, students were also consistently asked to explain their process, such as in the introduction, “What are you going to do? What will you do next?”

students completed a problem-solving task. He asked one group, “Why is there no reaction here? Which one doesn’t

was moving constantly between the

get oxidised?”

students and when she noticed some

When it was a very difficult concept, the Maths teachers modelled their process of thinking, for example, “I look at it and I say to myself, what shape is it?” and “As soon as I see the word volume, I write down volume = area times h”. This particular teacher also held up different students’ formula sheets to share examples with the class to show how to prepare for an examination. She explicitly reminded students of metalanguage. When one student answered “3.96”, the teacher asked, “3.96 what? Chickens?” In the four History lessons observed, students were also consistently asked to explain their

misunderstanding, she stopped and demonstrated two alternate ways of working on the board. In her interview, this same teacher talked about feedback being a key component of HSC success. She has a very quick turnaround time for returning students’ work, “I get it back almost immediately.” Three other teachers specifically raised the quick turnaround time with formative assessment students had completed. Most teachers interviewed made reference to the significant number of hours they spend with students outside the classroom in one-on-one meetings and feedback sessions.

process, such as in the introduction,

The Legal Studies teacher began the

“What are you going to do? What will

lesson by displaying samples of student

you do next?”

work from the previous lesson and the


students and teacher collaboratively identified the strengths of the structure,

The bulk of many of the lessons

word choice and content. Feedback

was given over to students showing

was minute by minute in the Drama

evidence of learning and receiving

class as students worked on the initial

feedback. This was a very consistent

activities. In the second half of the

feature of the classrooms observed.

lesson, the teacher rotated between

Teachers were active throughout the

the two groups to give director-style

whole lesson in identifying where

feedback on the performance. The

students were at and explaining where

teacher sat on the ground with the

they needed to go next. In one of

students and asked them to self-reflect

the Chemistry lessons, the teacher

before she gave her feedback.

Pymble Ladies’ College


What works best in HSC teaching at Pymble?

It was abundantly clear that the students were very used to working in this way and had a strong understanding of the different requirements.

VISIBLE AND EXPLICIT LEARNING This was a very consistent feature in all the lessons observed. Teachers were very active in breaking down the components of a question or a particular skill or an effective piece of work. In one of the History lessons, the teacher was providing students with feedback about their recent performance in source analysis. The teacher broke down the questions,

stating “This is what I want, not this…” As students were engaging in the questions and activities, the teachers across subjects reminded them of important terms to include or how to explicitly arrange the material. For example, “Ensure you have the independent variable over need to know all of these terms...”.


word by word, with the students on

Teachers across disciplines were

the screen, identifying common errors,

creating opportunities for students

misunderstandings and best approaches

to make connections between ideas,

for answering the question. In the

topics and concepts, prior knowledge

second lesson observed, the students

and new knowledge. In Science,

were practising different types of

one teacher kept linking the current

HSC questions. The teacher gave the

experiment to previous ones, asking

students a, “To what extent?” question

questions like, “How can we minimise

and asked for their approach. One

heat loss? How can we measure that?”

student was the scribe and she drew a

Another asked, “What did we say about

pie graph and students collaboratively

ethanol as a fuel? We did this two

worked out how to prioritise the extent

weeks ago.” In English Extension, the

to which certain factors contributed

analysis task for the lesson was linked

to Japan losing the war. Then they

to the module concept and students

practised a different form of question

were asked to link the concept being

and had to discuss applying their

explored in the text to literary theory.

knowledge in a different way. It was

It was noteworthy that some students

abundantly clear that the students were

struggled to do this and it may indicate

very used to working in this way and had the need for more opportunities for students to build connections. The Legal a strong understanding of the different requirements of the History paper and,

Studies teacher was constantly asking

therefore, one can assume explicit

students to retrieve information and link

teaching and reinforcement.

cases currently being studied with cases

What was most effective, was that the teacher was using students’ own work to provide this explicit feedback. In Maths, both teachers used coloured pens on the iPad to highlight different parts of the question and different functions that needed to be performed. In Drama, learning was made visible in a physical way. The teacher demonstrated by performing herself in the circle,


Illuminate Research and Innovation | Edition 7 2022

they studied in Year 11 for students to see the links in terms of the law. He very cleverly created an A3 sheet with all of the past HSC questions down the lefthand side and the units across the top of the page. Students filled in the table, identifying how controlling ideas they had learnt for one topic could be used for a range of different questions, thereby lightening the cognitive load.

This teacher, along with the History teachers, continually made reference to the links between the content and contemporary society. This was a key technique to not only foster

Consolidation and retrieval

HSC requirements

Visible learning, metacognition

connections, but also to engage students, particularly in Legal Studies. Making connections in Maths lightens the cognitive load. One of the teachers said, “This is nothing new. We have seen

Class notes collaboratively built


Making connections

this before…”.

CLASS NOTES BUILT COLLABORATIVELY Teachers across disciplines are using collaborative platforms to ensure

Embedded formative evaluation and use of students’ own work

Application Co-construction

High level rigour of instructional care

students have a comprehensive set of notes. Interestingly, these notes are largely co-constructed. In Maths,

Figure 3: Highly effective teaching strategies for HSC instruction

the demonstrations completed on the iPad feed directly into OneNote.

engaging with students and supporting

One of the Maths teachers remarked

their growth. The classrooms observed

in the interview that despite all of the

were happy, constructive places,

demonstrations being accessible in the

where there were high levels of trust

OneNote, students didn’t always make

and strong relationships. Indeed, the

effective use of the material.

personal qualities of the teachers and

In the student survey, many girls identified having a collaborative platform for note making such as Google Docs or OneNote as being one of the most impactful strategies that supported their learning. One student stated, “doing individual research and learning, then combining the knowledge/research into a class doc so it is in our notes is more efficient, independent and saves us from writing notes daily and at the end of a topic”.

CONCLUDING COMMENTS It has been a privilege to observe and interview this representative group of passionate, outstanding educators. They are genuinely passionate about their subject and they evidently enjoy

their relationships with students are integral to the health and success of these classrooms. Professional Engagement (Standards 6 and 7 of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers) was also a very noteworthy feature of the representative sample of teachers. They demonstrate deep domain specific knowledge and knowledge of what success looks like in their subject. They also maintain strong connections to professional networks and associations, with a number being recognised as leaders in their field. It is important to state that there is no one set of ingredients for HSC success. Many factors contribute to excellent student growth, however, it is clear to this teacher-researcher that

Pymble Ladies’ College


What works best in HSC teaching at Pymble?

The classroom is still largely the “undiscovered country” in schools. Studying excellent teachers can help academic leaders understand what excellence in a particular school looks like and this knowledge can be a powerful tool to build the capacity of all teachers. the strategies observed and captured

• Professional learning sessions or communities during which master teachers share practice or are observed. • Purposeful mentoring or instructional coaching, this may happen informally, or through a development process or formal roles and relationships.

above, combined with strong teacher

Finally, recognising and celebrating

professional engagement, do contribute

excellent practice is a key

significantly to excellent HSC outcomes.

recommendation of this study. The

The classroom is still largely the

teachers who were observed for this

“undiscovered country” in schools.

study were delighted to be recognised

Studying excellent teachers can help

and validated for their day-to-day

academic leaders understand what

practice. Teaching can still be an

excellence in a particular school looks

isolating occupation and many teachers

like and this knowledge can be a

attested to feedback about classroom

powerful tool to build the capacity of

practice being a rarity. The teachers

all teachers. A consistent understanding

involved in this project also simply

across teams as to what constitutes

enjoyed the opportunity to engage in

excellence is vital as we strive for

a deep discussion of their professional

strong academic outcomes. Patchy,

practice and background.

inconsistent practice across teams threatens the goal of improvement for all. Academic leaders are encouraged to regularly conduct learning walks across a faculty, team, or stage. It is my recommendation that we find ways to further deprivatise classrooms and utilise the amazing gift of our master teachers to support the growth of all teachers. Suggestions from the study: • Regular learning walks may afford the opportunity for a large number of teachers to see excellent HSC teaching in action. Learning walks are one idea. Given that excellent HSC teachers share a common repertoire of strategies, it may be useful for teachers to observe teachers from other faculties. 70

Illuminate Research and Innovation | Edition 7 2022

References Ayres, P., Dinham, S,. and Sawyer, W. (1999). Successful teaching in the NSW Higher School Certificate, University of Western Sydney: Sydney. Hattie, J. (2015). What works best in education: The politics of collaborative expertise. Pearson: London. Masters, G. N. (2012, August 27). Continual improvement through aligned effort [Paper presentation]. 2012 - School Improvement: What does research tell us about effective strategies?. research_conference/RC2012/27august/3. Vygotsky, L. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. M. Cole, V. John-Steiner, S. Scribner & E. Souberman (Eds.). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

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Illuminate Research and Innovation | Edition 7 2022


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