Frequently Asked Questions

View the Communities of Practice FAQs.


Who will chair each network?

Each geographic network will be chaired by a principal from within the network.

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What is the role of the network chair?

The role of the network chair is to:

  • provide leadership for the network, playing a lead role in setting the network’s agenda and planning the network’s vision and future direction, in collaboration with the network Senior Education Improvement Leaders (SEILs)
  • focus network collaboration on the effective implementation of the Framework for Improving Student Outcomes, including supporting the establishment of smaller, initiative-specific networks within the network or across networks as necessary
  • drive a Community of Practice (CoP) approach to network activity that has a relentless focus on improving student outcomes, through shared accountability, collective responsibility and a rigorous evaluation of the impact of the improvement foci
  • ensure that the network is a key forum for building capability, holding professional, evidence-based conversations, sharing practice and sharing and analysing school performance data
  • provide opportunities for the network to discuss the implementation of other DET student-related policy and practice e.g. transitions, wellbeing, and shared operational matters such as OHS, facilities and staffing as required
  • facilitate opportunities for the network to engage with the broader school and local communities and key partners across the government, business and community sectors to improve student outcomes
  • collaborate with SEILs and other area-based multi-disciplinary team members on behalf of the network as required, facilitating two-way communication, consultation and feedback between the Department and network schools
  • represent the network as a member of the region’s Network Chair Forum (NCF)
  • undertake succession planning for the network chair position in collaboration with the network and the SEILs.

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What is the role of Senior Education Improvement Leaders (SEILs) in networks?

SEILs will be a conduit and have an important role to play in facilitating, connecting, integrating and challenging to ensure effective network practice. They will assist networks to adopt an effective CoP approach, and ensure the network concentrates sufficient focus on the Framework for Improving Student Outcomes implementation. SEILs will play a stronger role within the geographic network depending on the need and capability/capacity of the network chair.

For more information about the way SEILs will support the Communities of Practice approach, see SEIL Role.

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How will network chairs be appointed?

The appointment of the network chair will be managed through the network itself, supported by the network SEILs. The selection process will be open and transparent.

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How long will network chair appointments last?

Network chair appointments will be for a period of up to 24 months. This will enable willing and appropriately experienced principals to have the opportunity to perform the role.

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What happens if the network cannot identify a network chair?

If no principal can be found within the geographic network, the network SEIL will temporarily assume the role of network chair, and will collaborate with network principals to build the appropriate future capability within the network.

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What if two or more networks combine regularly?

Where two or more geographic networks regularly combine to work together, each network will still be required to appoint a network chair if possible. They will collaborate and co-chair as appropriate to ensure their individual networks operate effectively both individually and collectively.

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What support is available for network chairs?

Being a network chair is voluntary but it requires additional time and work from principals. Accordingly, the opportunities provided through the role of network chair must provide sufficient incentive for principals to take it on, so the Department is investing in capacity building opportunities for them.

A key opportunity is the Education State leadership initiative, WISE (We Inspire System Excellence). This initiative will include professional development, support and incentives for principals to take on the role of network chair, and to implement the CoP approach.

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What other support will be available for network chairs?

Additional support and capability-building opportunities available to network chairs will include:

  • the CoP resources to guide professional practice within networks
  • enrolment in Bastow’s WISE program (commenced July 2016)
  • funding to support network chair activities
  • membership of the region’s Network Chair Forum – an opportunity to regularly engage with other network chairs and regional/central executive staff; to access Departmental information and build on professional knowledge; to provide feedback to the system and influence decision-making
  • direct and regular access to and support from members of the area’s multi-disciplinary team, including all SEILs, and to the region’s Executive Director of School Improvement.

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How is the CoP approach different to other network approaches?

The CoP approach builds on current network practices by focusing the work of networks more purposefully to impact student outcomes and school improvement.

Research shows that effective school networks that are focussed on collaborative effort to improve student outcomes, have rich conversations, use data for improvement, and are powerful drivers of purposeful learning and leadership, can make a difference. The CoP Self-Assessment Tool is designed to support networks to make this shift and challenge those doing well, to do even better.

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My network is currently working well – what does this initiative mean for us?

Networks that are working well will continue to focus on their achievements and enhance existing practices and processes.

The self-assessment tool will enable the network to review its current practice and take it to an even higher level.

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How will this initiative benefit my school? What’s in it for me?

Principal networks have been used for a variety of purposes. The CoP approach signals a shift towards a stronger and more purposeful emphasis on improving learning outcomes, reflecting the ambitions of Victoria as the Education State.

The CoP approach will enable opportunities for your school to benefit from the collective learning of others in your network.

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How will the performance of networks be assessed?

Members of the network will self-assess their current network performance against the CoP Self Assessment Tool (PDF)​​ on a regular basis.

In the longer term, the focus of network performance will be on improved student learning outcomes.

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What protocols/arrangements will be made to smoothly transition existing networks to new school networks?

Sample protocols are available on the Protocols guide page.

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What role will Bastow have in the establishment and running of networks?

Bastow will have no role in the establishment or running of networks. Bastow will provide human resources and documentation to support CoP approaches in networks.

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What other resources will be available to networks? 

SEILs, area directors and multi-disciplinary teams will support networks to deliver on the Framework for Improving Student Outcomes initiatives in addition to DET support available at the Framework for Improving Student Outcomes page.

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How will the implementation of the network model happen?

Networks are not new to Victorian principals. The CoP approach is an integral way of working together to achieve improved student learning outcomes. SEILs and network chairs will receive additional professional learning to develop a CoP approach and will work with networks to embed the approach.

It is expected that networks will meet at least once a term to facilitate continuous learning and improvement. These meetings may incorporate time for smaller learning groups based on the Framework for Improving Student Outcomes initiatives to support improvement in their schools. These groups will determine whether other school leaders and teachers need to meet, and the frequency of meetings needed to drive improvement.

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What will help my geographical network work well? 

Geographical proximity enhances network ability to collaborate and share good practice, develop a deep understanding of the context of each network school and provide meaningful feedback.

Technology can help improve the reach of networks where they are geographically disparate and they genuinely want to enquire into key areas of improvement, and support change in each other's practice and in school improvement.

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How can we learn about good practice from others outside of the geographic network?

Good practice examples and contact details will be shared with all principals on the Bastow website, and updated regularly. Please contact us cop_enquiries​​ to share insights and examples of promising and excellent collaboration.

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