Home Hybrid Learning Deep Dive: The groundbreaking program driving educational excellence in Australia’s schools

Deep Dive: The groundbreaking program driving educational excellence in Australia’s schools


Deep Dive: The groundbreaking program driving educational excellence in Australia’s schools

In 2019, a study conducted by the University of Newcastle’s Teachers and Teaching Research Centre discovered something that would turbocharge teaching and learning across Australia.

The Quality Teaching Rounds (QTR) program, co-created by renowned Laureate Professor Jenny Gore and Dr Julie Bowe from the University of Newcastle, was not only a low-cost scalable form of teacher professional development, but it could also improve primary students’ achievement in maths by 25%, with this effect as strong if not stronger in disadvantaged schools.

Moreover, QTR was identified to be relevant professional development for teachers in every subject area, working in every grade at every stage of their careers.

In 2023, the program rolled out nationwide following successful trials in NSW, Queensland and Victoria.

The expansion of QTR went on to become part of the National Teacher Workforce Action Plan, which aims to address the workforce shortages facing Australia’s schools. Over the past decade, it’s helped more than 4,700 teachers and benefited at least 785,000 students, making it one of the most transformative programs in Australian education.

On 3-4 June at the Novotel, Sydney Olympic Park, passionate educators and visionary leaders from various educational sectors across Australia gathered at the University of Newcastle’s 2024 Quality Teaching in Practice conference, now in its third consecutive year.

The conference provided a platform for attendees to represent their diverse school communities while engaging with leading researchers and policy makers in the field of education.

“The challenges facing our education system at the moment are complex. Dire teacher shortages, poor engagement and behaviour, stagnating student results, and widening equity gaps are some of our thorniest challenges,” Professor Gore told The Educator.

“However, teachers and school leaders are being offered simple solutions, when what we need is comprehensive, systemic change.”

Professor Gore said while the QTR might not be a panacea, it is comprehensive in simultaneously producing positive effects on teaching, teachers and student learning, and backed by randomised controlled trial evidence.

“The effect on student achievement was greater in disadvantaged schools, signalling the potential to address equity. It achieves all this with just four days of in-school professional development,” she said.

“Quality Teaching Rounds produces these effects by providing a robust framework on quality teaching that resonates and is applicable to everything teachers do.”

Professor Gore said this approach to professional development validates what teachers are already doing well.

“It makes them feel valued, builds strong professional relationships, and importantly changes teaching practice to enhance student learning.”

Enabling time-poor teachers to make an impact

Michelle Ware, a Quality Teaching Rounds Adviser, has delivered professional learning to teachers across Australia. She said against the backdrop of unprecedented teacher shortages, teacher burnout and ongoing concerns about student behaviour and wellbeing, finding time for powerful, collaborative PD is tough.

“Here’s where using the Quality Teaching Model to enhance assessment tasks and programs, rather than only lessons, can be really useful,” Ware told The Educator.

“Instead of releasing four teachers on four separate days for Quality Teaching Rounds, it’s possible for small groups of teachers to use existing professional learning timeslots to analyse tasks and units of work.”

Ware said teachers have reported finding this approach highly valuable, particularly when meeting with colleagues from different subject areas and year levels.

“Having ‘fresh eyes’ on under-performing tasks or tired programs has refreshed teachers’ thinking about the how, what, when, where, and why of their assessment and programming practice.”

Fostering a common language for teaching

Jenny Linklater, Principal of Chifley College’s Shalvey Campus, said QTR is a high impactful professional learning opportunity for teachers at all career stages.

“This iterative process is an investment in enhancing teachers’ professionalism and efficacy,” Linklater told The Educator.

“Through focused observations and deep collegial discussions about observed practice within a safe space, teachers share ideas and, as a result, learn from each other and this positively influences their own work in classrooms each day.”

Lauriston Girls’ School introduced QTR in 2020 as a way for teachers to observe each other and give lesson feedback using an evidence informed model.

Previously, the school had used Cultures of Thinking (Harvard) to guide classroom observations but found it lacked the structure that QT provides.

Kate Hehir, Assistant Principal of Lauriston’s Junior School, said QTR uses a known framework which allows teachers to converse deeply about pedagogy and complex educational ideas using a common language.

“Our Junior School teachers have completed the two-day QTR Foundational workshop face-to-face so have built a strong knowledge of the 18 elements, giving them the confidence to code and discuss lessons in depth,” Hehir told The Educator.

“The ‘QT: Enhancing Assessment Practice’ one day workshop encouraged our Junior School teachers to look carefully at our current assessments through a QT lens.”

Hehir said teachers at the school have spent time analysing assessment tasks, considering how to include high levels of the three dimensions: Intellectual Quality, Quality Learning Environment and Significance.

“This improves the task quality and engagement for the students as well as giving the teacher richer assessment information on student performance,” she said. “Lessons receive validating and affirming feedback which builds teacher morale.”

Hehir said PLCs (Professional Learning Communities) of 3-4 teachers create genuine opportunities to connect with colleagues and spend valuable time talking about educational ideas using a common language.

“QT has encouraged rich lesson planning as teachers carefully consider including the 18 elements, some which they may not have focused on in the past.”

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