Director's Message - The future of learning

Innovation; Research; Technology
Director's Message - The future of learning

The opening of a cutting-edge facility, a commitment to delivering powerful learning experiences and an adaptive approach to supporting school leaders in education to improve student outcomes have shaped the way the Bastow Institute of Educational Leadership has evolved since it was established in 2009.

Three years and over 7000 course participants later, Bastow’s mission for the future remains fundamentally the same: to create a world-class leadership institute that builds the capability, confidence and knowledge of leaders in early childhood and school settings.

Motivating everything we do is our commitment to continuously learn, grow and develop in order to be responsive to a rapidly changing education landscape. This commitment is also something that we hope to pass on to every person who walks through our door.

Over the past four years we have proved our ability to constantly calibrate our strategies and react to the changing expectations of schools and their leaders, as well as effectively align our curriculum with government policy, specifically Towards Victoria as a Learning Community.

What is distinctive about Bastow is our commitment to provide a transformative experience for leaders in the education system so that they can create environments for learning that are positive, engaging, rigorous, intellectually stimulating and relevant to every life stage of every student in every setting.

We have assembled a talented, energetic and diverse team of educators who deliver highly relevant courses. We pride ourselves on developing learning experiences that rest on evidence-based research, meet the individual needs of participants, and have clear learning intentions and expectations.

An innovative feature of our approach since day one is the use of feedback from facilitators, peers and through our online communities as a method for assessment. Constructive feedback, whether it’s related to a school-based change project, designing a course content, trialling a particular teaching or leadership strategy, is what drives improved performance. It also provides an opportunity for self-reflection and assessment - it’s a valuable and mediated learning cycle.

Above all, we value the recognition we receive from the participants themselves, their praise and positive feedback. As part of this measurement of success, we recently undertook further evaluation to gauge our impact not only on participants, but also on student outcomes.

In association with external consultants, we designed a framework based on Guskey’s model of evaluation to achieve a clear picture of participants’ progress and the impact of their learning beyond Bastow. And so far the results are extremely encouraging and enlightening, with 96 per cent of respondents reporting that they had improved their leadership capabilities, knowledge and understanding and used these in the workplace.

These results also endorse Bastow’s motto - ducere exemplo or lead by example - as the focus for all our endeavours and as something that sets us apart. Every aspect of every Bastow course - from the welcome on the first day to the learning spaces - is designed to provide leaders with a model that they should consider for their own context. We ensure that we cater for different learning preferences and modalities and expose our students to different strategies and technologies. Implicit in this notion of transfer is our willingness to take responsibility for the potential of our influence.

Since course delivery commenced at Bastow, three important shifts have occurred, which have all contributed to the success we enjoy today. The first was to consider the early childhood sector and how we could attend to their professional development needs and establish partnerships. This involved thinking differently about our language and frameworks.

The second shift was into the facility itself, which brought with it implications for the management of a whole range of business processes and a responsibility to fully utilise what this wonderful, state-of-the-art building has to offer.

The third was to develop a deeper engagement with people who deliver our courses. We have made a commitment to ensure that we support them in extending their capacity to design courses that actively encourage and support the innate disposition of leaders to impart knowledge, inspire and never cease learning.

Our challenge for the future is to continue to both service and respond to the expectations of the Department, as well as be nimble, adaptive and highly innovative. We need to preserve our position at the leading edge of practice and everything that this entails. It’s also imperative that we consider the future of education so that we can support our leaders to extend children’s capacity to adapt and thrive in any environment.