Collaboration in the Ovens Valley

“It’s all about unlocking the power of collaborative learning …”  — Marie-Claire Bretherton, Kyra Teaching School Alliance

More than sixty educators from North East Victoria have explored ways to establish an ambitious education collaborative between their schools.

The staff, from across the Ovens Valley region, attended a professional development session on March 9, outlining key strategies to boost student learning opportunities and outcomes by working as a partnership or cluster.

Key facilitator for the day was international teaching specialist, Marie-Claire Bretherton, who is credited with the establishment of the UK’s largest and most successful rural school collective, the Kyra Teaching School Alliance.

Ms Bretherton urged the Ovens Valley schools to wholly embrace the ‘Cluster Concept’.

“It’s all about unlocking the power of collaborative learning … which leads to collective improvement,” she said.

“By working together in true collaboration, schools can ensure that all children benefit from the highest standards of teaching and learning.

“The schools can then be ambitious and hold themselves to account for the quality and impact of their partnership.”

The Ovens Valley schools looking to strengthen their rural cluster are Harrietville, Wandiligong, and Porepunkah primaries, as well as the Bright and Myrtleford P-12 Colleges.

During the session, educators took part in group exercises, discussing methods and specific areas in which the schools could team-up.

Bright P-12 Principal, Jean Olley, said the session provided invaluable insight into the advantages of school clusters.

“Marie Claire discussed her experiences setting up the Kyra Alliance in England with vivid stories from the schools involved,” she said.

“We then explored how we could work together as a collective and what it (the cluster) might look like.

“We established a final list of Agreed Actions for the further development of our cluster and this will be followed-up by our Principals.”

The  Kyra partnership operates according to four key principles, which Ms Bretherton has encouraged the Ovens Cluster to consider.

They are:

  • High Social Capital – sharing the expertise and skills available across schools, and supporting teachers to learn and work together;
  • Frontline Obsession – putting learners and their teachers at the centre of everything you do
  • Capacity Building – supporting the ongoing professional development of all educators to ensure they provide high-quality and engaging learning for students;
  • Shared Responsibility – creating a narrative which tells the story of your partnership, the impact you want to have and the responsibility to ensure every child is provided with the best possible learning environment.