Post-intervention: the importance of sustainability

April 2017


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DR PHIL COOGAN says collaborative partnerships and capability transfer are the key to ensuring the sustainability of an intervention.

student teacherCognition Education recently hosted over 120 key educational leaders, influencers and advisors at an event to discuss the latest research on collaborative impact and its benefits for learner achievement in New Zealand and globally.

Keynote speaker Professor John Hattie shared research that showed teacher collaboration is among the most important influencers of student achievement. His research, published as Visible Learning, has been highly influential in education systems around the world.

Another keynote speaker, Emeritus Russell Bishop, outlined how relationships-based learning is changing lives for indigenous and marginalised students in New Zealand and Australia.

The event reinforced our thinking that we can no longer continue to accept systemic under-achievement – especially among particular learner groups – when we have the evidence-based professional development programmes that we know can lift achievement for those groups.

Cognition’s approaches to professional learning are informed by the research of both Hattie and Bishop but also by people like Michael Fullan, Andy Hargreaves and Helen Timperley. Our job is to translate that research into practical strategies that can be implemented by leaders and teachers.

Former principal and current Cognition Education Professional Learning Manager Dr Brian Hinchco sees the new approaches being implemented as part of the wider Investing in Educational Success strategy as key ways of sharing and scaling such professional learning.

“Placing learners at the centre and viewing their pathways through learning organisations as a collective responsibility – who can argue with that?” says Hinchco.

He applauds schools and Communities of Learning/Kāhui Ako using data and shared local expertise to develop local achievement challenges aligned with national priorities.

“Add to that the rigorous accreditation of facilitators, choosing the appropriate type and mode of internal or external PLD, as well as the most appropriate facilitator and you’ve got the ingredients for a system game-changer,” he says.

“Our schools want to know that interventions have an evidence base and that they will impact positively on leadership and teacher practice and student engagement and accelerated achievement.”

Critical for schools and Kāhui Ako is the capability building needed to ensure the sustainability of any intervention. Hinchco suggests that this needs collaborative partnerships and planned capability transfer.

“What we leave behind is as important as what we do while we are in a school or community.”

The bottom line is the impact of any initiative and at Cognition we can point to some pretty substantial shifts in learner achievement as a result of working in partnership with leaders and teachers.

The national mathematics contract we led showed an aggregated effect size of 0.98 (0.4 progress is considered to represent an acceptable effect size for one year of learning). Our system-wide work in the Northern Territory of Australia has contributed to literacy and numeracy results for kids – especially Aboriginal kids – which has attracted attention across Australia. And we’re proud of our support for an iwi-led response in Whanganui where impact is being demonstrated in terms of teacher practice, community agency, leadership practice, and yes – NCEA results.

Dr Phil Coogan is Cognition Education’s Regional Director for Asia Pacific.

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