When it comes to the question of what makes a great school, the answer can differ wildly depending on who you ask, but new research aims to pinpoint the X factor.
Early next year, three leading universities will look at the best public schools in NSW to find out the secrets to their success and how it can be replicated across the state’s education system.
The initiative follows a NSW Government grant to run the new The Ambassador Schools Research Centre to a consortium of three universities, the University of New South Wales (UNSW), the University of Canberra and Charles Sturt University,
NSW Deputy Premier, Paul Toole, said he was thrilled to know that Millthorpe Public School in his Bathurst electorate would provide effective teaching advice to educational professionals, not just for NSW educators but from around the world.
“Millthorpe might be a small village, but its school and teaching professionals are among the best in the State. This initiative recognises that and seeks to tap into Millthorpe’s success and how we can replicate it elsewhere,” Toole said.
“This research will not just assist our future teaching practices in NSW but put us on the world stage, as knowledge from the Research Centre is shared with other education professionals.”
NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said the research will help schools and education policymakers understand how to share the success of the Ambassador Schools across the State, helping teachers improve their classroom practices and lifting student outcomes.
“Our Ambassador Schools are not just great schools they are excellent schools - they have an X-factor, and we want to understand what the secret recipe is to their success.”
‘A transformative initiative’
UNSW Professor Kim Beswick said the university was excited to get started on what he called “a transformative initiative” for education.
“We are delighted to be leading the university consortium and working with the NSW Department of Education to support improved student learning outcomes,” Professor Beswick said.
The Ambassador Schools program is the first of its kind in Australia and a key initiative of the NSW Government’s School Success Model. Ambassador schools are diverse, covering primary and secondary, metropolitan and regional areas, and schools across a range of socio-economic contexts.”
Auburn North Public School was selected as an Ambassador School earlier this year.
“As an Ambassador School we have the opportunity to share what works in our context, to help other schools in their drive for school improvement,” Principal Mark Harris told The Educator.
Harris said his school recognises the vital role parents play in the wellbeing of students and in a child's educational success.
“We have developed a welcoming school learning community and culture for our parents that are based on trusting and mutually respectful relationships,” he said.
“A range of effective programs that have resulted in a high level of parent involvement and parent engagement have also been developed and implemented at the school”.
Initiatives include the school’s ‘Harmony House’ programs that provide educational, wellbeing and social programs for parents and the empowering ‘Parents as Partners in Learning’ program that assists parents develop the confidence, knowledge and skills to become active participants in their children's learning in the home.