Cessnock High School students are getting a direct link to the latest university research into what works best in lifting academic standards.

As part of an exciting new research project, all staff at Cessnock High School will be trained in Quality Teaching Rounds over the next three Terms.

As well as training teachers in QTR we are providing ongoing support in implementation and evaluation of the program and other initiatives designed to support teachers and create wide-scale academic and social benefits for the Cessnock community.

The 16 teachers who kicked off the initiative have spent valuable time during their Rounds days observing each other’s teaching, analysing lessons and discussing pedagogy, including how teaching could be enhanced, using the Quality Teaching Model.

Participating teachers said they thoroughly enjoyed the experience, describing it as a powerful opportunity for growth at both an individual and whole school level. They are looking forward to continuing the professional development process with their colleagues over the course of the project.

Early career teacher Kelsey Kisina said she had learnt a lot from working with her colleagues and looked forward to implementing these lessons into her daily practice.

“As a beginning teacher I have found the Rounds process to be really validating. At times I felt like you work solo within your classroom, and at times you can doubt yourself because of your ‘inexperience’, but being able to receive feedback from my colleagues, both positive and constructive, was validating for me and almost reassuring,” she said.

Project lead, Dr Drew Miller, said the overarching goal was lifting students’ academic achievement through a holistic focus on quality teaching, assessment, and school culture.

“It is wonderful to be building a relationship with Cessnock High to take a really deep, analytical and long-term approach to the pursuit of improvement and excellence. The initiatives we are implementing will support the leadership team to enhance staff morale and culture, further develop teaching efficacy and embed a shared vision of high-quality practice at the school.”

“We will be providing ongoing support for the school’s work in achieving their academic, social and community targets over the next four years.”

According to Principal Peter Riley, the Cessnock High School staff are committed to holistic improvement that will benefit the entire school and wider community.

“We are aiming to develop a strong culture of educational achievement at Cessnock High. A culture that celebrates success and excellence among our students and our staff,” Mr Riley said.

“By targeting and focusing on quality teaching, improved leadership and building a positive school culture we hope to increase engagement in education, resulting in improved attendance, retention and attainment rates for students.”

“I see this as a real opportunity to create long-term change and improve equity in our region. As our students grow into young adults, we want to see more of them staying on to complete the HSC, more going on to pursue further education through TAFE and university, and more opportunities for them in the workforce.”

“Having students more engaged will further develop the learning relationship between staff and students and have a positive impact on the classroom learning environment. Over the next four years we hope to see our students engage in education in a way that can help to break generational cycles of disadvantage.”

“That’s what we’re aiming for by partnering with the University and the Quality Teaching Academy.”

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