Auburn West Public School, located next to the Auburn Botanic Gardens, has 610 students and an ICSEA score of 909. Their school population includes 98% with language backgrounds other than English and many students attend lessons in their languages of Arabic or Turkish. Auburn West PS has a focus on flexible learning spaces, mentoring and coaching, and future focused teaching and learning as school priorities. The school leadership team has a focus on instructional leadership for students and staff, and there is a strong partnership between the staff and community. There is a vibrant and active involvement in arts and culture events and active support for refugee students. Student engagement is strong and Auburn West PS utilises learning goals to share student learning success.
Auburn West PS identified a school-wide need to engage their community in classroom practice and school initiatives. They saw that articulate and engaged students would enhance their ability to involve parents and caregivers in their learning. Auburn West PS had a belief that that powerful, deep learning will occur when there are strong links with the community.
What happened during the project?
The school developed and delivered personalised professional learning to all teachers. This training aimed to develop quality Learning Intentions and Success Criteria (LISC) to better equip students with the ability to articulate learning goals. To gain a deeper understanding of effective feedback, teachers were mentored by executive staff and engaged in further professional learning.
Auburn West PS leadership reported that networks and school connections provided by SVA enabled them to learn new practices around student voice and adapt them to suit their school context. Dynamic and varied student leadership opportunities were developed to increase student voice.
In order to offer students more leadership opportunities, the school needed to create additional leadership positions, modify school timetables to extend student leadership meeting time, refine student leadership processes in order to place importance on student voice, connect with other schools to broaden our understanding of leadership and student voice in different school settings.
In order to build student capacity to be autonomous, articulate 21st Century learners, the school had to connect with external partners to upskill school executive about best practice. This information was filtered to all teaching staff and through this professional learning, teachers were equipped with the relevant skills to enable student growth.
With the purpose of connecting with community we needed to establish a solid, united partnership. A P&C was formed to ensure parent and community voice was heard and valued. A working committee of teachers and executive was established with the aim to strengthen partnership and communication between home and school.
What changed for the students?
The school’s engagement with SVA has contributed to leadership and leadership qualities in becoming a whole-school focus. There are now multiple opportunities for leadership within the school. 48 student leadership positions existed pre 2017, and over the duration of the project, Auburn West PS saw an almost 50% increase in student leadership positions, rising to 86 positions in 2019.
There were immediate positive effects as a result of increased leadership. One such positive effect was that student confidence increased, leading to 300 applications being received for leadership positions in 2019. Another positive effect was that student leadership application processes were further refined. In 2019, the SRC created a successful, multi-step application process. This has led to the development of a thorough and incremental pathway into leadership positions.
Teachers are now better equipped to create quality learning intentions and success criteria after an analysis of student work and achievement. As a result, students understand and can confidently articulate their learning intention and success criteria. In addition, students now work collaboratively alongside teachers to determine their ‘where to next’.
Where to next?
Key next steps for Auburn West PS include:
- Continuing to develop programs that have been established as a result their SVA action plan, including Passport to Leadership and student leadership initiatives.
- Continuing to increase leadership opportunities for students, such as student representative in school hubs.
- Maintaining and continuing to refine practice around LISC through ongoing professional learning and mentoring practices.
- Increase opportunities for parents to share in and celebrate student learning.
- Professional Learning: Strong, personalised professional learning and targeted mentoring, ensures teachers have the skillset to develop and foster student autonomy and student growth.
- Student Voice: Giving students a voice in the decision-making process within their school boosts confidence, engagement and ensures a sense of belonging and accomplishment.
- Community Engagement: Solid, united partnerships between home and school strengthen belonging among parents, students and teachers.
The importance of collaboration
Q&A with the School Principal
Q: What has made SVA a productive partnership for your school?
The opportunity to connect with like-minded schools across the state and throughout Australia has ensured our school has developed networks ‘beyond our school fence’. SVA has provided an opportunity for our team to dive deep into current research regarding best practice and innovative solutions to problems of practice. A key driver of our journey so far has been the opportunity to engage with colleagues and other professionals outside of education to challenge our students, staff and community.
Q: Outside of SVA itself, what has been the most productive partnership you’ve developed through your SVA project? Why has it been productive?
Small partnerships have been established during our time with SVA such as Leaders Connect – a student leadership partnership with Berala Public School and Granville East Public School. This was developed in 2017 and has grown over the years. It has been a productive partnership because we are geographically close, have similar school contexts and our moral purpose is aligned.
Lastly our partnership with Dr Helen Timperley aligns to our vision in our SVA Project Action Plan. Through our partnership with Helen Timperley we have made significant changes to professional learning. This has led to a whole school focus on writing through a spiral of inquiry. Three visits from Helen Timperley over the duration of the SVA partnership has helped senior executive and teachers to deepen knowledge on best practice.
Contribution of another school to your journey
Over the duration of the partnership with SVA Auburn West PS have connected with a range of other Connection schools leading to the genesis of school improvement ideas. These have included:
- Granville East PS and Berala PS: working with these local schools has enabled leadership conversations, development of ‘Leaders Connect’ and exploring ‘3 Way Learning Conversations’.
- Hoxton Park High School: visiting this school lead to exploring Leadership Passports, which are now in development at Auburn West PS.
- Morphett Vale PS and Prospect North PS: originally seen in a school visit to these South Australian schools, over 2018/19 Auburn West PS have implemented and tailored the idea of a group of student “Lead Learners” to their school context.
- Hoxton Park PS: this school helped Auburn West PS to explore restructuring their library so that it helps equip students with relevant 21st Century skills.