Effective Practices in Context

Effective Practices in Context

An independent evaluation of the Smarter Schools National Partnership on Literacy and Numeracy (NPLN) in NSW Schools, undertaken on behalf of the NSW Minister for Education by Erebus International, identified themes of effective practice which closely align with the nine domains of the National School Improvement Tool .

An important evaluation finding was that the practices were most effective when implemented as a suite of initiatives across the whole school.

The Erebus evaluation also noted that these practices occur in the context of a range of other factors which may be present at the system level, across a whole school, within classrooms, with teachers and sometimes with individual students.

The following summary presents an overview of the nine domains of effective practice and their contexts. The overview may be useful as a stimulus for discussions within your school in order to help effectively shape the improvement agenda.




Whole school factors

Classroom /teacher factors

Individual student factors

An explicit improvement agenda

An explicit improvement agenda has core objectives and timings that are clearly stated and shared by the school’s governing body, the principal and executive, teachers and parents. It is underpinned by contemporary research in teaching and learning and is established collaboratively right across the school community.

A whole-school approach of commitment and shared responsibility from all members of the school community, including parents, drives sustainable change in student outcomes.


Student learning improves when tailored intervention programs align with whole class explicit teaching strategies and an agreed whole school agenda.

Teachers engage most effectively with intervention programs which are underpinned by a sound research base and evidence of student improvement.

Teachers can focus on student improvement when their teaching and learning decisions are based on contemporary evidence based research.


Analysis and discussion of data

Systematic practices are developed to ensure that decisions are based on qualitative and quantitative evidence at the classroom and whole school level about student achievement and whole school effectiveness.

A whole school systematic approach to collecting, analysing, interpreting and tracking data focuses on outcomes of student literacy and numeracy learning


Teachers' decisions about student learning needs are strongly informed by a range of robust student data

Teachers track student progress through constant monitoring of student performance data.

Students engage in critical reflection about their progress in literacy and numeracy through feedback of meaningful and timely data.

A culture that promotes learning

A culture that promotes learning is driven by the analysis of student learning needs and supported by a positive, safe and secure learning environment which recognises each student as a unique individual.

Leadership for effective pedagogy and student engagement begin with the student not the program.


Effective teachers understand their students and utilise class time to focus on specific student learning needs.

Extended uninterrupted blocks of time “quarantined” for teachers and students to engage in literacy and numeracy activities significantly enhance student achievement.


Student engagement with learning is fundamental to confidence and enhanced achievement in literacy and numeracy.

Targeted use of school resources

Staffing, physical and technological resources are applied through school-wide policies that are aligned to system and local priorities, to address the well-being and learning needs of students.

Resources are focused specifically on what students need to learn in response to needs that have been systematically identified.

Specific intervention programs and tailored resources are one of the tools for enhancing student learning outcomes.


Expert teaching team

Tailored professional learning opportunities for all members of the school community enhance the effectiveness of whole school leadership. Professional learning supports classroom staff and the school community and contributes directly to a culture of continuous improvement.

Tailored forms of professional support (e.g., targeted professional learning, deep pedagogical knowledge, release from face to face class time for observation, reflection and collaborative planning) can underpin a whole school culture that will include innovative and effective teaching strategies.



Optimal teacher professional learning reflects contemporary pedagogy and supports effective and targeted programs based on evidence of student learning needs.


Systematic curriculum delivery

A systematic approach to the curriculum is shared across the school and the wider school community through professional dialogue, collaborative planning and the systematic exchange of resources, programs and ideas.

Teachers clearly understand the content and timing of what they should teach, and show a level of commitment and activity that is reflected in a culture of shared responsibility.

Student learning of literacy and numeracy is most effective within a culture of school collaborative planning, exchange of teaching and learning ideas and systematic monitoring of student achievement across stage levels.

Student learning is enhanced with a whole school plan for curriculum delivery which includes the use of common language across the school community, including parents.

Collaborative planning by teachers reflects an agreed common commitment to curriculum priorities, assessment and reporting of student outcomes, including to parents.

Teachers regularly share programming ideas and teaching tools across curriculum areas and Stages of schooling.

Discussion of student learning outcomes and planning for student learning occurs across stage levels.


Differentiated teaching and learning

The school prioritises the identification and understanding of each student’s individual learning needs, responding with evidence-based classroom activities that effectively address these needs.

Opportunities for student improvement are enhanced when there is whole school commitment to interventions based on clearly identified student needs.


The teaching and learning cycle begins with the identification of each student’s learning needs, informed by all available data.


Individual Learning Plans (ILP’s) are a powerful tool in assisting teachers to plan, implement and monitor students’ individually tailored learning experiences, especially when parents are engaged in the process.

Effective pedagogical practices

Effective pedagogical practices have a strong research base, are clearly understood by classroom practitioners and are direct responses to students’ identified learning needs.

Collaborative planning and programming, led by a principal and executive team who are well-informed about contemporary, research-based practices, underpins effective pedagogy and student learning.

There is a high expectation across the school of the use of systematic, evidence-based approaches that target what students need to learn to improve.


The primary focus on individual learning needs determines the choice of program or teaching/learning strategy.

Students’ identified learning needs are addressed by an explicit teaching and learning strategy, which may include specific intervention programs or tailored resources that are known through research to be effective.

In responding to students’ diverse learning needs, teachers are flexible and adaptable in their use of programs and strategies.


Individual student learning is enhanced when teachers make connections through all aspects of student learning, i.e. across all KLA’s

School-community partnerships

All members of the school community, including parents and families, other education institutions, community organisations and businesses, actively participate in and are committed to the common purpose of enhanced student outcomes.

The school is strategically linked with key community stakeholders who can support the school with resources and experiences not otherwise available.

Teachers feel they are in active partnership with the community, particularly families, in identifying and responding to individual student learning needs.