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Students Aren't the Only Ones Improving

Teachers at Ambrose Treacy College have 3 loves: a love of learning, a love of learners and the love of bringing the first two together.

One of the underpinning characteristics of teaching at Ambrose Treacy College is engagement with evidence informed practice. Sometimes, this evidence has already been undertaken. At other times, teachers act as researchers in order to contribute to a body of understanding around strategies that advance student outcomes.

We are excited to share that Ambrose Treacy College has been selected as one of several schools to participate in the Queensland Catholic Education Commission ‘Advancing Teaching and Learning’ research program.

Schools and teachers use a myriad of pedagogies in classrooms….but how do we know when and how they are effective? In partnership with the University of Queensland, ATC’s Learning Leadership Team are currently investigating effective pedagogy that promotes and improves the writing skills and outcomes of our students. As a result of a school improvement project launched in 2017, we have already seen significant improvements in our writing results. This project represents a continued commitment to improving outcomes for boys, and our findings will help guide and direct other schools.

“It is critical that teachers learn about the success or otherwise of their interventions: those teachers who are students of their own impact are the teachers who are the most influential in raising students’ achievement” (Hattie, 2014).

Our research will be supported by The Science of Learning Research Centre (SLRC), who bring together education professionals and high-quality researchers from cognitive psychology, neuroscience and education disciplines to collaborate on our area of interest. Evidence for Learning (E4L) is also supporting the program with workshops on the Education Action Plan, the hierarchy of evidence and an introduction to the E4L Teaching & Learning Toolkit (Deeble & Vaughan, 2018).

The Advancing Teaching and Learning Research will support our School Improvement Plan that specifically targets improving boys’ outcomes in Literacy. This strategic plan is in its third year, and already we have seen significant improvement in paragraphing, sentence structure, text structure and punctuation. We now move to specifically target growth in the areas of coherence and ideas, which is 18% of the NAPLAN literacy marking rubric.

Effective literacy learning occurs when schools embed high impact strategies in literacy programs. This includes teachers reflecting on their practice, identifying an area of improvement focus, applying the teaching strategy and evaluating its impact.’ (Framework for improving student outcomes, 2019).

In a College that is still in the establishment phase and implementing the most significant changes to Senior Schooling in more than 50 years, it would be easy to deprioritise research. However, just as our students are called upon to be aspirational and improvement seeking, so are our teachers. The Learning Leadership Team look forward to contributing to the field of research by measuring the impact of pedagogical practices that are based on scientific evidence on how learning occurs and how learner achievement can be enhanced. To aspire to anything less, would be against the interests of our students.

Lara Morgan
Assistant Dean of Learning – School Improvement