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Curriculum & Leadership Journal
An electronic journal for leaders in education
ISSN: 1448-0743
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The Knowledge Bank

Mark Landy
Senior Project Officer, Office of Learning and Teaching, Department of Education and Training Victoria

Imagine this scenario. You are in a leadership position, and your principal asks you to manage a project to implement a new teaching and learning framework for your school.

Where do you go for information and assistance? First, you may seek out your school colleagues and talk over what’s involved. Then you might want to find out what how other schools, either in your region or beyond, have approached a task like this. Perhaps a contact in the region or the Department will help set you on the right track. And what about searching the Net to see what’s there?

Imagine how valuable it would be to have all these contacts, networks, case studies and resources sitting in one place, or even just signposted for you.

Developing such a service is the longer term goal of Knowledge Bank, a web resource for education and training providers in Victoria. Knowledge Bank provides information organised by category, region and topic. The topic areas are student learning, professional learning, building leadership, whole-school improvement, and community involvement and partnerships. Material on each topic is linked to relevant web pages of the Victorian Department of Education and Training and other informative education sites.


Case studies

Knowledge Bank provides access to case studies of exemplary and promising practice from across the education and training sector. While the studies are directed towards the Victorian school education community, they are likely to be of interest and value to educators elsewhere.

Importantly, the case studies have been written by educators working in government schools, non-government schools, TAFE, VET and ACE providers. They are real stories about challenges in education. The studies are reviewed regularly and new ones are added all the time.

A growing collection of case studies now report on the experiences of teachers on professional leave. Teacher Professional Leave provisions in Victoria give teachers an opportunity to take up to ten weeks of paid leave to explore creative and innovative practice.

The value of reports on teachers' professional leave is illustrated by two of the most recent case studies. For one study, a group of teachers from Craigieburn Primary School researched best practice in the Thinking Curriculum, and developed an implementation plan to promote change. They visited five schools that were identified as already implementing a whole-school approach to the Thinking Curriculum.  A list of questions was generated to investigate the process involved in promoting change.  A summary of findings was collated, and an implementation plan has been submitted to the leadership team at the researchers’ own school.

In another study, two teachers from a girls’ secondary college in Geelong explored ways to recognise and extend the learning taking place in a student music ensemble that performs in professional contexts. The researchers were also concerned to make contacts with other teachers who were developing alternative approaches to student musical performance.


The What’s On section and the Research eLert newsletter

Knowledge Bank’s What’s On section covers news and events and gives an overview of educational online and elearning networks within Victoria and interstate. Readers are also able to browse an archive of past news announcements.

This section includes a link to Research eLert, an electronic newsletter which aims to support evidence-based decision making across the education and training sector. It is issued twice per term. Each newsletter features a specific theme that is relevant to schools and other education providers. A range of research papers related to the specific theme is included in each newsletter. The research papers are summarised and links to the full paper are included. Research eLert has been developed by the Office of Learning and Teaching on behalf of the Department's Research Executive Committee.

The lead article in the August edition of Research eLert describes an empirical study in seven Victorian secondary schools. The study sought to identify the school characteristics that have the greatest impact on student engagement. It aimed to provide advice to schools on systemic ways to modify teacher behaviour so as to achieve reliable, high performance. The findings highlight the key role of mutual respect between teachers and students, the need for the school to focus on the development of the whole child and for the school to have high and clear expectations of teachers’ performance. The August edition also includes a range of related research papers and reports that cover the key areas of student engagement, teacher effectiveness and parent and community involvement in schools.

Another feature of Knowledge Bank is a Links section that offers a directory of education resources from around Australia and overseas. There are also plans to set up discussion boards for online communication between educators on the Knowledge Bank site.

Knowledge Bank is managed by a small team based in the Office of Learning and Teaching at the Department of Education and Training. It is a Blueprint for Government Schools initiative.

Knowledge Bank is about celebrating and learning from best practice. If you work in an education and training provider in Victoria and are involved in an initiative that you'd like to share, we'd like to hear from you. To get started,  teachers in government schools can contact the Knowledge Bank coordinator in their region, or contact us directly. We would also be pleased to hear from educators elsewhere who wish to suggest examples of exemplary or promising practice for possible coverage in Knowledge Bank.

KLA

Subject Headings

School culture
School and community
Leadership
Students
Professional development
Websites
Victoria
Thought and thinking
Information services
Electronic publishing
Educational evaluation
Education research
Case studies