Improving Outcomes for All: Leading Reform Through Innovation

16 April 2024

Independent schools are actively improving student outcomes through innovative practices. ISA’s report showcases ten Case Studies from Independent schools around Australia, illustrating their innovative approaches to the national school reform priority areas of equity, wellbeing and workforce. These three priority areas will be the focus of the upcoming Better and Fairer Schools Agreement.

The Independent sector includes ISA, Associations of Independent Schools (AISs), and individual Independent schools. Together the sector has the capacity to contribute to the development of reform initiatives, and to finding and being part of solutions. Independent schools have a level of autonomy that gives them the freedom to respond to the needs of their students, staff and school community. They are often early adopters of new technologies and their autonomous nature allows them to innovate using evidence-informed practice to improve outcomes for students in a range of contexts.

Independent schools are supported in researching, adopting and implementing innovation in key areas of schooling by the AISs in each state and territory. AISs play a vital role in supporting their member schools with evidence-based and evidence-informed practice, programs and professional development to support innovation and implement national reform.

Independent schools serve many students in Australia experiencing disadvantage and make a major contribution to the education of students from the priority equity cohorts identified in the Review Report. Challenges exist, for example, in identifying effective teaching pedagogy to engage First Nations students and improve learning outcomes.

Case studies from Hymba Yumba School and Nawarddeken Academy demonstrate successful approaches to supporting First Nations student engagement and learning through culturally responsive teaching practices.

Personalised learning and the implementation of targeted support, data-driven interventions and parent engagement are key practices in the Independent sector.

Independent schools recognise the importance of student and educator wellbeing and implement wellbeing programs ranging from school-wide approaches to one-to-one intervention for the most vulnerable students.

The Independent school sector is actively engaged in promoting evidence-based strategies and initiatives to address teacher workload, attraction and retention, particularly in regional and remote areas.

Supporting and mentoring Initial Teacher Education students to future-proof the teaching workforce is one priority and Shearwater, The Mullumbimby Steiner School Case Study provides an excellent example of the success of the Association of Independent Schools NSW (AISNSW) Teaching School Hubs program.