Understanding our Impact

​​​​Neil Barker, Director, Bastow Institute of Educational Leadership

Neil Barker, Acting Director, Bastow Institute of Educational LeadershipI am honoured to have been appointed Director at the Bastow Institute of Educational Leadership, and to carry on the wonderful work of Bruce Armstrong who has worked so tirelessly to establish this Institute.

I have been involved in education for more than 30 years; having been a principal for ten years, teaching in primary and specialist schools, managing an education policy unit, and working in the not-for-profit sector. It is a joy to work with the Bastow team who are passionate about the provision of quality leadership learning and who work so hard to create those opportunities. I would like to thank them all for their exceptional efforts in 2014. I would also like to thank all of our facilitators, supporters, partners and you, our participants for joining us to make this Institute an exemplar of leadership training and facilitation.

As well as continuing to build Bastow’s excellent reputation for delivering powerful leadership professional development, 2014 has also seen us raise our profile and visibility as an organisation that makes a positive impact on education across Victoria. We are determined that this impact be felt not only by Bastow’s course participants themselves, but also by their colleagues, the wider community, and most importantly, by the children and young people they teach and lead.

We are continually evaluating all our programs to look at how they can be improved and to make sure our participants are developing their knowledge, skills, disposition and capacity to lead in order to improve learning outcomes. We are proud that our most recent independent evaluation on the impact of Bastow learning on leadership practice and student outcomes revealed consistently high ratings by participants.

Seeking input from participants’ colleagues as part of this evaluation provided a different perspective and a better sense of the real changes that are occurring in schools. Interestingly, the colleagues’ responses were consistently more positive about the impact of Bastow learning on practices, attitudes and awareness, indicating that participants often underestimate the degree of their learning and development.

Delivering programs in Victorian rural and regional areas was also a priority in 2014 with the establishment of our new Regional Partnerships Team. The team is dedicated to expanding and customising Bastow’s current leadership development for Victorian regional and rural networks. This team has provided a contact point for networks of schools to identify and define their needs and then to work with us to localise, customise and target our courses to strengthen leadership. This is also a great forum for schools to connect, share ideas and collaborate.

One of the truly exciting courses we have delivered this year is the Open-to-Learning (OTL™) Conversations workshop. Bastow partnered with Distinguished Professor Viviane Robinson, Academic Director of the Centre for Educational Leadership in Faculty of Education at the University of Auckland, to offer this powerful professional learning.

The course is based on the ‘train the trainer’ model, which has proved to be highly effective for improving leadership capability. With the success of OTL™ in 2014, we are looking at how we can develop this rigorous and authentic learning model to allow schools and groups of schools to take responsibility for their own professional learning.

Our signature programs – Impact, Evolve, Create and UP – are also building a reputation for excellence. These carefully designed programs reflect the Victorian Government’s commitment to develop and support education professionals at every stage of their career journey.

Bastow’s Twilight seminars and professional practice series are also building momentum and success. The regular evening Twilight events offer an opportunity for Victorian education professionals to hear leading academics, innovative thinkers and industry experts from all over the world talk on a wide range of highly relevant topics.

For 2015 and beyond we remain committed to providing more opportunities to more people, including teachers, principals, early childhood professionals and educational support staff across Victoria. We will continue to understand and increase our impact, identify gaps and look at how we can partner with others to expand our offerings. We are determined to maintain our reputation for providing high quality, challenging and effective leadership programs that make a real impact.

Bastow has a great suite of professional development courses and events planned for 2015 and we look forward to seeing you either here in North Melbourne, on polycom or at one of our region courses.