Bridging the divide between policy and practice

Written by Margery Evans, Chief Executive Officer of AITSL

Next week the Global Education Leaders Program (GELP) will convene in Sydney. This will be the largest meeting of this initiative to date and will bring together education leaders from twelve high performing or fast improving systems around the world.

Australia’s involvement in GELP is important for a number of reasons.

What we know to be true is that professional learning and peer collaboration is as important for leaders of systems as it is for leaders of classrooms and schools.

The opportunity to exchange ideas, lessons learnt, and evidence collected should never be underestimated.

This is an important platform to not only showcase some of Australia’s achievements, but also learn from how others are working differently to drive change. One example of this is the approach of South Korea, which is seeking to model their school system on the pillars of collaboration, creativity and character. One of the reasons this stands out to me is that it breaks the stereotypes about schooling in Asia, and is proactively addressing the current and future needs of learners in the twenty first century.

At any gathering like this I am constantly reminded that our work does not exist in isolation. I am yet to see a high performing system of education that does not explicitly prioritise excellence in teaching and school leadership.

I’m also reminded that despite ongoing challenges and opportunities for us to improve, our achievements are significant and we have much to be proud of.

Of course one of the greatest challenges for events such as this is that the bridge between policy and practice is not always clear. An ongoing struggle for any system is to ensure that policy is understood, valued and broadly applied.

Too often policy is lost in translation. The best policy is grounded in evidence and is largely informed by excellent practice. When excellent practice is not identified, understood and shared, we all miss out.

As we have established AITSL this has been something we’ve remained mindful of. We continue to develop new ways of making the link between policy and practice explicit. Examples of this are our Illustrations of Practice and Teacher Feature. Our Illustrations of Practice seek to bring to life what the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers look and feel like in schools across Australia, and Teacher Feature provides a platform for Teachers and School Leaders to directly share their insights and experiences.

Where have you seen the relationship between policy and practice work well?