ABOUT REVOLUTION SCHOOL. Kambrya College

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1 ABOUT REVOLUTION SCHOOL Kambrya College Kambrya College is a comprehensive Government secondary school in Berwick, a middle to low socio-economic area in Melbourne s outer south-east, 43 km from the CBD. The school opened its doors in 2002 as the suburbs sprawled into areas that not long before had been dairy farms. The population grew rapidly with young families taking advantage of the new, relatively inexpensive homes built in housing estates. The school went through a period of extraordinary, virtually unmanageable growth there were 97 Year 7 students when it opened in 2002, but by 2007 there were 1500 students. Current principal Michael Muscat, who took over in 2008, says the school was chaotic. It was the wild west. There was blood, there were queues every day outside the first aid office. And inside the classroom, results were so poor that it was flagged as a red school by the Education Department. Fewer than half of the Year 12 students were passing. Muscat and his team set about implementing wholesale change, starting with a strict uniform and discipline code. The turnaround worked in a few years the school has become one of the most improved schools in Victoria in terms of Year 12 results. There are currently around 1100 students and 87 teachers at Kambrya. There are students from about 37 nationalities at the school, with around 25% of students having a language background other than English/ That makes it a typical Australian school in the 21 st century, and was one of the reasons it was chosen for the documentary series. But also, Muscat and his colleagues are passionate about improving outcomes for all students, be they academically-challenged or academically gifted, and have been working with the University of Melbourne to implement better teacher training and classroom practice. We focus on what matters most and that is outcomes for kids.

2 Melbourne Graduate School of Education at the University of Melbourne The Melbourne Graduate School of Education is one of the world s foremost education faculties. On international rankings, it has placed in the top 10 education schools in the world consistently over the last five years, alongside such revered institutions as University College London, Harvard, Stanford, Cambridge and Oxford. It is Australia s top ranked education school, and teacher education at the MGSE is open only to post-graduate students. It takes approximately 800 students a year in early learning, primary and secondary school teaching streams, many of whom have had successful careers in unrelated areas. Every applicant must sit a Teacher Selector test which asks about previous experience and reflections on teaching. There is a literacy and numeracy component but the test also assesses applicants disposition, personal characteristics, communication style, ethics, and cultural sensitivity. Dean of the MGSE, Professor Field Rickards, says the Masters trains graduates in what he describes as clinical, evidence-based teaching so they can accurately assess and meet students learning needs. Rickards believes this evidence-based approach to teaching is the key to improving results for Australian students, and for putting teaching on a par with the medical profession. Critically, every Masters student spends two days per week at the University s partnership primary and secondary schools schools such as Kambrya College - so they are better prepared for the classroom when they graduate. The MGSE counts among its staff a number of the world s most respected education academics including Professor John Hattie and Professor Patrick Griffin, who also conduct partnership research with schools.

3 Professor John Hattie, Director of the Melbourne Education Research Institute at the University of Melbourne and chairman of the Federal Government s Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) John Hattie is a straight-talking academic with a passion for trying to understand, measure and share what makes a difference in the classroom. His study on what really matters to help students learn and progress has been described as the holy grail of effective teaching and he is arguably the world s most influential education researcher. His 2008 book, Visible Learning, is the largest ever collection of evidence-based research into what makes a difference for students, ranking the factors which most improve learning. It was the culmination of 15 years of research, incorporating more than 50,000 studies on schools involving millions of students. Professor Hattie found improving the quality of feedback students receive and ensuring positive teacher-student interaction led to the best outcomes. It is a pupil s ability to assess their own performance and to discuss how they can improve with the teacher that makes the most difference. Somewhat controversially, he also says the evidence shows that factors such as class size, homework and public or private schooling are not nearly as important to students learning progression as the quality of individual teachers. Born in New Zealand, John Hattie grew up in the regional port city of Timaru, and after school worked as a house painter before going to university and gaining a teaching diploma. He gained his PhD in 1981 and has worked at universities around the world before taking up his position in Melbourne in Key quotes from John Hattie: On private versus public schools: When it comes down to the quality of teachers, its very, very hard to find evidence that there is any major difference between the public and the private schools in terms of the growth, the value that teachers add (to students learning). In fact it s almost a myth to believe they re that different. You get some of the best teachers in Australia in some of our poorest school areas. It s quality teaching which makes the difference: If you take students of the same kind of prior ability, the same kind of initial ability, here in Australia it virtually doesn t matter what school you go to. Schools don t make much difference - it s the teachers.

4 On how teachers can make a difference: It's really critical that every teacher fundamentally believes and demonstrates that they can make a difference to every kid in that class, they can make every kid a learner. If you think the opposite way kids are very good at perceiving that and picking up the cues that they may be dumb. We don t want that. And a school like Kambrya where the aim of the school is for every kid to obtain a potential or exceed what they think their own potential is, then you can see teachers working very, very hard to show students that they can be excellent learners. On the need for teachers to use a clinical approach to students learning needs: The reason we use clinical teaching is that we want to start firstly with what clinicians do, a good diagnosis. We want a clear understanding (of) what the kids are bringing to this lesson. We then want to put in to place multiple interventions. Making sure that the intervention we put in place is based on the diagnosis. The third part of it is we want to make sure that we evaluate what we're doing and we've got the diagnosis right because kids change as they go through learning. So there is this multiple diagnose, intervene, evaluate. That's the core of clinical teaching. On teachers classroom methods: When you ask teachers how often do they talk in a class most of them say 30 to 40% of the time. Well, actually they talk 80 to 90% of many classes and realising that is pretty powerful. But you don't realise it until you actually have the evidence. On the need to properly train and support teachers: Burn out and low teacher morale are big problems. Too many young teachers leave the profession, about half leave within the first five years. Too many more experienced teachers start to cruise along. It s a real problem. On Kambrya College: When I look at Kambrya s achievements the major message that we should take home is that relentless focus on the quality of teaching can truly make a difference to the lives of students and that can happen in any school in the nation. On students home life: Support and encouragement is probably the most critical thing and if you don t get that you do it hard.

5 Professor Lea Waters, Director of the Centre for Positive Psychology, Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne Lea Waters is a psychologist who has held an academic position at the University of Melbourne for the past 20 years. She often speaks in public about positive education and parenting, and has worked with more than 100 schools across Australia, Asia and Europe. The Centre for Positive Psychology aims to advance the science and practice of wellbeing for students, teachers and education systems at primary, secondary and tertiary level. The Centre assists schools to create positive cultures. Professor Waters says Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show one quarter of young Australians are suffering from symptoms of mental illness. She says it s critical to equip young people with the skills and mindsets that counteract mental illness and prepare them for a life well lived. For well over a century, education has aimed to equip children with the three Rs: reading, writing and arithmetic, she says, adding that it s now time to add the R of resilience to teaching programs. Professor Field Rickards, Dean of the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne Professor Rickards trained as an audiologist and set up Australia s first training in audiology in He has been Dean of the MGSE since 2004 and has set a firm focus on improving the quality of teaching through an evidence-based approach. He believes teaching, like audiology, should be viewed as clinical practice and he has introduced that approach into the Master of Teaching at the MGSE. I actually believe teaching is the most complex and challenging profession there is, because we re talking about children s development, Professor Rickards says. Professor Rickards has facilitated ongoing partnerships with dozens of schools in Melbourne where Masters students spend two days each week on pre-service training so they are better prepared for the classroom when they graduate. He equates this to teaching hospitals for medical students. Professor Rickards has been a member of the Federal Government s advisory panel to review teacher education and training in Australia. At the MGSE, he leads a team of internationally acclaimed researchers, including Professor Hattie and Professor Waters.

6 Dr Bill Rogers, education consultant and Honorary Fellow, Melbourne Graduate School of Education It s not hard to find classroom teachers who credit Bill Rogers, or at least one of his books or YouTube presentations, for helping them manage students with challenging behaviour issues. Dr Rogers is a teacher by profession but now spends his time lecturing on discipline and behaviour management in schools, and how to help teachers manage stress. He has taught at both primary and secondary schools, and began his consultancy work in 1985 when he worked with the Victorian Education Department to promote whole school approaches to behaviour management and student welfare, within a framework of rights and responsibilities. Dr Rogers focuses on positive behavior management, emphasizing the need for teachers to have a plan to deal with disruptive behavior. He suggests a series of descriptive cues for calmness, tactical pauses, and clear directions and reminders for expected behaviours. He is big on do rather than don t. For example: Looking this way and listening, thanks, rather than Don t talk while I m teaching. He has written numerous books including Cracking the Hard Class: Strategies for Managing the Harder than Average Class, and Behaviour Management: A Whole School Approach. Di Snowball, Literacy consultant Di Snowball began teaching in 1972 and quickly realized she didn t have enough training in how the children in her Grade 1 class in Melbourne would learn to read and comprehend. Ms Snowball took it upon herself to find out all she could, and over time developed a six-step strategy for teaching reading which has achieved dramatic results in low-performing schools both in Australia and overseas. In 1992 she was invited to provide professional learning for teachers and administrators across schools in New York and other parts of the US, and she carried out that role for 16 years. More recently she has been involved in a program which has led to significant improvement in literacy levels in schools in Melbourne's western region. The principal at Footscray North Primary School, Sharon Walker, sings the praises of Di Snowball s approach to teaching reading. "We look at Finland, Singapore, people go overseas and yet we have a fantastic model on our doorstep, Walker says. Di Snowball has written several books and articles about literacy teaching and has produced videos demonstrating the most effective teaching practices.

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