Joseph Banks Secondary College

  1. PLC Story
  2. PLC Practices
  3. Achievement Data
  4. Awards
  5. Resources
  1. JBSC- Our PLC Story

Our journey began in 2014, a little over five years ago when our foundation principal was charged with the responsibility of establishing a new high school in a developing community. The PLC at Work process was a key trigger to engage in a fairly new way of working in WA and shift the focus from teaching to learning as a means to improve student outcomes. Our journey to establishing a PLC is outlined below and is achieved through sustained efforts and progress. It has by no means been an easy process; and each year we have undergone a churn as we have employed 25 – 30 new teaching staff with each new cohort.

Our newly established college opened its doors to its first cohort of Year 7 and 8 students in January of 2015. We welcomed around 230 Year 7 students and 200 Year 8 students to a world class education facility with the belief that every student can learn, and provided the right opportunities and support, will learn to high levels of success. This belief was borne out of extensive research around innovative teaching practices conducted by our foundation principal, Eleanor Hughes  in 2014, as she embarked on a journey to establish a college that was different; a college that would guarantee challenging, engaging and intentional instruction that is carefully planned to ensure curricular pathways to student success; the provision of whole child student supports ; a high performance school culture; and a high reliability and low variability approach to student learning. Eleanor Hughes connected with Wayne Craig, the Executive Director of McREL, Australia in 2014, well- known for his “Curiosity and Powerful Learning” work. This approach is based on a relentless focus on improving the quality of teaching and reducing in-school variability. The objective is to support teachers to become more precise and more effective. This work became the foundation of our college vision and way of working.

In late 2014 the recruitment process and establishing of the team began, with the notion that staff will join the Joseph Banks Secondary College bus and operate as a professional learning community. Staff worked alongside Wayne Craig and the executive team in the first two years to gain a better understanding of the professional learning process; and the induction process continued each year with our rapid growth.

In the first three years we began with three collaborative teams (an even spread of expert teachers teaching across Years 7-9 students in each collaborative team) operating at our college. Each student belongs to a collaborative team, led by a Leading Teacher, with expert teachers and a Learning Support Mentor. The group of teachers engage in collaborative practices where they meet once a week, share expertise, and work together to improve teaching skills and the academic performance of their students through a process of observation, feedback and data analysis. Traditionally you would have subject specific teachers collaborating around curriculum. With our structure, as the teachers belonging to the collaborative teams were from different subject areas, we have switched the focus from curriculum to learning and for our staff, their work focused on the student and how to work together to improve student outcomes as the staff all taught the same students and through their collaboration could easily identify best practice and which strategies had the most impact on outcomes. We still have collaborative teams (Domains)who come together to focus purely on curriculum and ensuring that students are equipped with the right skills and knowledge. The narrative of ‘Good to Great’, is an ongoing theme to underpin the notion that it is about continuous improvement and the belief that all students in the community should have every opportunity extended to them to assist in reaching their full potential. The focus of our work is on serving every child, every lesson, every day. (Joseph banks Secondary College Business Plan 2015-2018). With this in mind, in 2017 we established a fourth collaborative team in Middle School as we felt the student numbers were growing and we wanted to maintain the sense of belonging for students as well as ensure that teachers knew their students well.

We had staff members who were familiar with Rick Dufour’s work, and his book, “Professional Learning Communities at Work” was introduced to all foundation staff.  During the school holidays of 2015 we sent a team of five members of the leadership team to Wembley Primary School in Melbourne to observe their practices and learn more about Professional Learning Communities. This opportunity deepened our understanding of PLC at Work and was the beginning of school-wide culture transformation. Since the first visit in 2015, we have sent over 30 staff members to professional learning opportunities across the state that have enhanced our work around collaborative teams, including just recently five staff attended the 2018 PLC Summit in Brisbane. Each time we have refined our practices as each year we grow we want to ensure that we do not lose our focus, however at the same time, we want to ensure that the staff who are ‘on the bus’ are in the right seat and we have not left them at the bus station so to speak. Throughout the process of defining how we want to work, we engaged in reflective processes, particularly with our leadership team, and each time they were able to ‘own’ the process which allowed us to create high performing teams, that focuses on individual student results.

Facilitating a culture of continuous improvement

The fundamental structure at Joseph Banks Secondary College meant that the collaborative teams were a priority and there was an appetite to meet once a week to ensure they are focusing on the’ right’ work. Each collaborative team has developed team norms that guide their work and hold each member accountable to the process as well as their direction.  Each collaborative team has a focus around:

 3 Big Ideas:

  • Focus on learning rather than teaching

  • Work collaboratively on matters related to teaching

  • Using evidence to plan for student learning

4 Key Questions:

  • What do we want students to learn? (curriculum)

  • How do we know if students have learnt? (assessment)

  • What will we do if they don’t know? (instruction)

  • What will we do if they already know it? (instruction)

  • How will we increase our instructional practice? (teacher development)

  • How will we coordinate our efforts as a school?  (leadership)

      

Over 2015 and 2016 there was a strategic focus on Learning Intentions and Success Criteria to ensure that students knew what they were learning and what they needed to do to be successful. In 2017 our focus was on the narrative and pace of the lesson with cooperative learning strategies being embedded to increase student engagement and improve outcomes. We added to the four key questions with a focus around instructional practice linked to teacher development and coordinating our efforts as a leadership team. We have also refined our understanding of the four key questions by going deeper with staff and ‘reducing the noise’, with each collaborative team reaching agreement around how staff will respond to these questions. This continues to be a priority area for us. In August 2019, we were privileged to have Gavin Grift cofounder of Grift Foundation, who led the development of  PLC networks across Australia, culiminating in the establishment of the Centre for Professional Learning Commmunities, work with our staff to extend their thinking and deepen our understanding  of collaborative teams.  

Meetings have become more strategic and purposeful with the Leading Teachers meeting regularly to ensure that they are on the same page and that each collaborative team has a clear focus and direction that aligns with the vision of the college. While each collaborative team's needs may be different, they have agreed on common priority areas to ensure that students across the different collaborative teams have access to the same learning opportunities, skills and knowledge, reducing variability and increasing engagement.

In our foundation year many of the PLC practices were established; focus on the four key questions, non-negotiables, essential learnings and key skills, creation of common assessments, analysis of student data, and became more meaningful with a staff commitment to key ways of working that was established and developed  from 2015-current. These include and are not limited to:

  • Weekly Domain Meetings that focused purely on curriculum and developing engaging and challenging tasks underpinned by the four key questions as well as cooperative learning.

  • A culture of observation and feedback to build capacity and skills among staff through various processes including coaching, triads, whole school instructional rounds, pivot surveys.

  • Staff meetings devoted to professional learning aligned with professional learning communities, quality teaching and learning, building culture and creating purpose. 

 

There now exits at Joseph Banks Secondary College a spirit of collaboration and collective ownership that is enhanced by academic growth in the last four years. There is an emphasis on leadership development at the college, evident in cases where Leading Teachers, Domain Leaders and teaching staff are leading some of the whole school professional learning. 

 

Staff feedback on their experiences being part of a PLC

As a leader, working within a collaborative team allows me the opportunity to support others and to also draw on the support of the team around me. Working towards a common goal and utilising our 4 key questions means that, as a team, we remain focused on the learning and ensuring student success. This core idea helps to unite the team and ensure our focus remains on the students and allows us all to share ownership of the initiatives that are put in place to support our students. By working with a collaborative team it also means that as a leader, I have the ability to develop the capacity of others and to draw on the expertise of other professionals. I am not expected to be the "fount of all knowledge" but rather facilitate the opportunity for others to share examples of best practice and to share their own unique skill set for the benefit of the entire collaborative team, and ultimately the students.” Rachel Amonini, Leading Teacher, Challenger Community.

“My experience of working in a collaborative team has been largely positive and allows us to focus on a foundational value of our school; the success of the individual student. The structure of the collabortaive team allows staff to work in close proximity to other teachers who teach the same classes, rather than teachers who teach the same subject. Therefore, by structuring offices in collaborative team spoces we are able to easily and efficiently have conversations about the wellbeing or learning needs of particular students. The collaborative teams create a family vibe in the school and allows students and staff a comfortable and safe space to call their own and a place where they can easily build strong relationships with others. Joining JBSC as a prac student, relief then full time staff member, I have had the opportunity to work within this structure for several years, and I honestly think it is the best structure for our school; for both staff & student belonging, and upholding our values of individual student success (no students falling through the cracks). Another reason why I believe collaborative teams are an excellent structure for our school is that it allows staff to up-skill and share ideas across subject areas efficiently. By working in close proximity with teachers of different experience levels, subject areas and skills, you are able to learn different classroom strategies or ways of teaching content that you would not have learnt if you were in a subject specific office.

The one challenge I have found whilst working in a collaborative team is that it can be isolating at times, in terms of planning subject specific content and lessons. In a previous year, I was the only person in our office teaching year 7 and 9 English, so although there were other English teachers in the office, I couldn't as easily and efficiently share ideas and brainstorm ways to teach content, for my specific Year 7 and 9 classes as no one else was teaching that content. However, as a whole school that challenge is minimised by having regular domain meetings where we can interact with other English teachers around the school, and having multiple teachers of each subject in every collaborative team.” Jessica Davies, English Teacher.

“The focus of our collaborative team is always the students. Joseph Banks Secondary College has approximately 1500 students and the HASS domain consists of 12 staff teaching across Years 7-12. There is a wide variety of expertise in staff, from new graduates to teachers coming back into the classroom after some years.

 The challenge for me as a leader is to reduce variability between classes and ensure consistency of programs and assessments across all teaching staff and year groups. To achieve consistency in teaching practices and improve teacher capacity and effectiveness, collaboration is key. As a result, I put processes in place for collaboration to occur. This took the form of giving one person the responsibility of a program manager. Their role is to collaborate with their planning team to create learning materials and assessments for the term.  The learning materials include PowerPoints with embedded instructional strategies based on best practice as well as any additional materials such as graphic organisers and card sorts etc.

This program is then provided to all teachers in that year group. The program is evaluated on a weekly basis through a collaborative google form, where all teachers provide feedback on what is working well and ‘even better if’. The feedback is then utilised by the planning team to improve the program for the following year.

As a group we monitor the data from the formative assessments, utilise Act on Feedback lessons in order to improve the outcomes for students for the summative assessments.

The process works well and provides the following benefits:

 - Reduces variability.  All teachers use the same, agreed on program and can provide feedback for improvement.

 - Builds capacity. Planning in collaborative teams builds capacity. Rotating the role of program manager ensures that all staff have the opportunity to build their leadership capacity. Collaboration within the teams builds the teaching capacity of new graduates as they learn from others in their team and this in turn builds collective efficacy.

 -Consistent and purposeful focus on improving student learning in the domain meetings.” Sarah McGill, Domain Leader, HASS

“My role as a Learning Mentor (administrator role) allows me to form strong relationships with staff, students and parents. It gives them one main point of contact which makes me feel like I'm a vital part of the team. Knowing the students so well enables me to individualise my actions, not all students are alike and what might work for one won't work for another. I have formed bonds with parents as I understand their needs and can put in support where needed. I have made friends for life with the staff I work with. In a collaborative team you all become better at your job by helping and learning from each other. I thoroughly enjoy this role and love coming to work everyday.Tanya Weston, Learning Mentor - Endeavour Community

 

 

 

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

  1. Monitoring student learning on a continuous basis

    Teachers are committed to working with each student on a standards-based curriculum, using common formative and summative assessments, and feedback connected to data to ensure students are successful. Domains plan for and embed common formative assessments and feedback cycles into their units of work and use data to assess student progress. Collaborative teams meet weekly to analyse student data; NAPLAN data, SEQTA reports, academic data and attendance data plan for interventions and enrichment opportunities for all students. This data analyses is mapped over the term and agreement is reached around when and how the data will be analysed. Students are identified for tracking and measures are in place to collect evidence and evaluate progress.  The effective use of the Learning Support Mentor (education assistant) to support staff in the planning and delivery of content is constantly being reviewed to ensure differentiation is in place for students who require support or extension in the classroom environment. Educational plans are reviewed regularly and students and parents are involved in developing the goals and plan for improvement. As part of our reflection and evaluation of our work, we identified a need for Leading Teachers to work more closely with Domain Leaders (curriculum leaders). This was critical to achieve a team approach to supporting the needs of both staff and students. Coaching, observation and feedback provided opportunities to ensure quality teaching and a guaranteed viable curriculum.

  2. This year, we have started to focus on formative assessment data so teachers are consciously aware of where atudents are in their learning and allow enough room in the program to enable feedback/consolidation lessons to take place.

    In terms of using summative data, we moderate to start with and then look for patterns and ask reflective questions. If there aren’t many A’s, what could the reasons for that be?

    It could be insufficient scaffolding, that the assessment didn’t allow for A’s, it could be that the students weren’t prepared enough. That will then prompt action, where collaborative teams will work to tweak the program or assessment to address the required areas.

    Next term, collaborative teams will look at putting a more formal line of inquiry against the data set to build capacity of teachers in analysing their class data. This will allow teachers to work at a higher level.

 

        As our collaborative teams are interdisciplinary, there is more of a push this year

        to ensure greater collaboration between collaborative teams and domain teams

        (subject specific) so essential learnings, students targets and education plans are

        shared more regularly to enhance learning outcomes for all students. We have set

        strategic meeting times twice a term to faciliate this collaboration as a means of

        analysing common data, tracking individual and groups of students and unpacking

         essential curriculum relevant across the collaborative teams. This collaboration           has become powerful in terms of monitoring student learning on a timely basis,

         creating and implementing a guaranteed and viable curriculum and ensuring that

        "no student falls through the crack."

      

 

2. Creating systems of intervention to provide students with additional time and support for learning.

  1. Creating systems of intervention and extension to provide students with additional times and support for learning.

    Using collaborative teams supports our approach to nurturing student learning and serving every student, every lesson, every day. Our principles of teaching and learning link to the Classroom Instruction that Works Framework and forms the basis of our belief that the learning environment will cater for all student needs and learning opportunities will be planned with purpose, use evidence and timely and specific feedback will be used to engage students in the learning process. During a consultative process undertaken by our Foundation Staff, certain non-negotiables were developed around ‘Creating the Environment for Learning’ which included developing a consistent approach to making learning visible and using learning intentions and success criteria, cooperative learning strategies, exit tickets, models of work and displaying examples of a high standard, use of word walls (vocabulary walls) and targeted feedback to students about their learning. Through this consistent approach, students are able to articulate what they are learning and what they need to do progress their learning. Teachers use collaborative groups to strategically group students so they can access support either in or outside of the classroom. The classroom teacher and Learning Support Mentor work flexibly with small groups of students or, one on one, depending on the teacher and skill being delivered.  Additional opportunities are provided to students to work with the classroom teacher or Learning Support Mentor before or after school hours.

    Our commitment to using SEQTA more effectively has also improved the tracking of student data. Staff log all curriculum planning, course outlines, results, communication and educational plans on SEQTA. This has improved the collaborative team focus and more time is spent on planning for interventions as a team.

    The Contact Teacher is another integral part of our intervention to provide students with support for learning.  One hour a week, students have a Contact class which is generally an opportunity for staff to build relationships with their students and get to know their aspirations and goals. Contact teachers are provided with data for each of their students and they use this time to set individual goals and track student progress. The Contact Teacher checks in regularly with targeted students throughout the week as a mentor and a support person for their learning. The Contact teacher is a critical conduit between the student, the parent, Leading Teacher and Classroom Teacher. By working collaboratively to develop and analyse student progress, and offer opportunities for students to self-assess and reflect on their progress, the staff at Joseph Banks Secondary College are maximizing their time to monitor student learning in a timely manner. While our Intervention system is somewhat fluid and identifed students 9Tier1) are supported during class time as well as their Contact class time, Tier 2 and 3 students are offered additional support during Period 0 and Period 6 classes. These times are negotiated with parents and are run by subject specific teachers.

3. Building teacher capacity to work as members of high performing collaborative teams that focus efforts on improved learning for all students.

  1. Building Teacher Capacity to work as members of  high performing collaborative teams that focus on improved learning for all students

    In some way the process of building a collaborative team was easier as from inception the structure allowed for the teams to collaborate across Domains (Learning Areas). The recruitment process inducted staff to the philosophy and research around Professional Learning Communities and a particular way of working. Being on our metaphorical bus meant that staff were placed into a collaborative team and our work focused around the resources and training that supported the PLC process. Leadership travelled to observe schools in practice and all of our in school professional learning centered around the cultural shift and the development of effective teams. Graduate teachers we employed knew no different and more experience staff welcomed the change. In 2015, with a staff of around 20, the focus on Professional Learning Communities and collaborative teams was relatively easy. As we progressed and employed about 20-25 new staff each year, we found it necessary to go back and reestablish the culture and understanding of the PLC process. From 2017, we began to anticipate the churn staff would face and provided the structures and professional learning and resources to accommodate the emergence of high performing teams.

    There was a concerted effort to maintain the momentum and energy in the Pcollaborative teams. We restructured the role of the Domain Leaders to include an Instructional Coach aspect which centered the teams on the Four Guiding Questions, with an emphasis on developing the instructional practice and building capacity (guiding question 5 and 6.) Leading Teachers and Domain Leaders are beginning to collaborate more effectively to support staff.  We also introduced the role of Second in Charge (2iC) to support the work of the Leading Teacher. From the expressions of interest it was clear that we had a high number of staff invested in the PLC process and had developed their capacity to take on a leadership position.  This focus, including the identification of expert staff in the collaborative team, has allowed teams to develop from strength to strength. 

    In Term 4 of each year, as part of our induction process, each collaborative team planned for and presented to new staff joining the team what it meant to work as a Professional Learning Community and in a collaborative team. This was an important opportunity for staff in the team to lead some of the processes and develop their leadership skills.

    Ongoing training and reflection is also provided for the Leadership Team, either full day or half days at least once a semester that targets their work as effective leaders of a collaborative team. Equipping them with opportunities to provide them with tools to use, for refection and sharing as well as to challenge them, has empowered them to become effective leaders. The entire staff benefit from strategic professional learning delivered at the college targeted at improving the PLC process and showcasing the strategies of some of the most effective teams.

    Resources, including time, is provided to collaborative teams to set their strategic direction and goals, and plan for improving student outcomes. These times are valued and the contributions that staff make to their teams are invaluable and essential for improving student learning outcomes. These collaborations have resulted in significant improvement in student performances across all year groups.

    2019 is our first year with a full cohort of students from Year 7 to Year 12 and, as a result, our staff is fairly established. I look forward to the continued development of our high performing, collaborative teams as we now focus on developing and upskilling the staff who are on our bus.  

 

Achievement Data Files

Additional Achievement Data

It is evident from our data that there is an increase in the percentage of students Pre-Qualifying for OLNA through the NAPLAN testing in Year 9. Prequalification requires students to achieve Band 8 or higher in the corresponding test for NAPLAN.

A large percentage of students continue to meet the requirement on first attempt in Year 10 with +28% for Numeracy the lowest of the three components. Significant gains were again achieved by the end of Year 10 for our 2018 Year 10 students.

In 2018, our Year 11 student data for OLNA continued to improve, indicating our target of +90% of students in Year 12, 2019 meeting the WACE Literacy and Numeracy requirements for WACE Graduation is within reach. To exceed 90% across the three components is now our goal.

Targeted OLNA sessions were utilised in 2018 for our Year 11 students, and our Year 10 students continue to be supported to develop their literacy and numeracy skills through the flexibility offered by their personalised timetable and the completion of the Year 10 Certificate II Course. In 2019, targeted invention will again my timetabled for students across Years 10-12 to ensure continued success in OLNA.

We are looking forward to our first Year 12 data at the end of the year.

As we have had a focus on essential learnings and the four key questions from 2015, our data shows that we have more students proficient across Mathematics, English, Science and Humanities compared to like schools. We will continue to see significant progress as we dig deeper into the four key questions. This bodes well for our Year 12 data.

We have been acknowledged for our PLC model and our approach to learning by beng invited to present to different audiences through the Institute for Professional Learning. To name a few :

 -Our approach to supporting students vs the traditional student services model

- leading effective teams (Middle Leaders)

- workshops for Middle Leaders and aligning the Business Plan to Operational Plans aimed at improving student outcomes. 

- Learning Environments Australasia Conference Transformation.

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