CoP and networks

The CoP approach builds on current network practices to focus the work of networks more purposefully.

​​As part of the Framework for Improving Student Outcomes (FISO), 57 geographic networks were formed across Victoria, who have the remit of creating student-focused Communities of Practice (CoP).

Networks engage in a shared process of collaborative learning to enable improvement in each member’s own school and in the schools of their peers. Each network has determined the areas of practice most relevant for them to focus on in their context, and developed plans to enable them to implement, monitor and fine-tune their actions as needed.

Networks also provide a way for principals to support each other within the system, both personally and professionally. The CoP approach that guides the work of networks helps educational leaders be a key part of shaping a self-improving education system.

This approach is a way of working together to achieve improved student learning outcomes. Senior education improvement leaders (SEILs) and network chairs receive additional professional learning to develop a CoP approach, including the opportunity to participate in the WISE: System Leaders program at Bastow. 

Networks using a CoP approach focus on implementing the FISO with support from SEILs, area directors and multidisciplinary teams.

See Leading Communities of Practice: Roles and Responsibilities (PDF 3.8MB) for more information about these roles.

Network chair

Network chairs play a key system leadership role in enabling school leaders to collaborate and take collective responsibility for all learners in their network. They are key to using a robust, evidence-informed approach and  improving student outcomes.

The role of the network chair is to:

  • provide leadership for the network, set the network’s agenda and plan the network’s vision and future direction in collaboration with the network executive and SEIL
  • focus network collaboration on the FISO improvement cycle, including supporting the establishment of smaller, initiative-specific groups within the network or across networks, by using the CoP approach
  • facilitate a CoP approach to network activity that has a relentless focus on improving student outcomes, through mutual accountability, collective responsibility and a rigorous evaluation of the impact of key milestones towards improvement
  • ensure that the network is a key forum for building capability, holding professional, evidence-based conversations, sharing practice and analysing school performance data
  • provide opportunities for the network to discuss the implementation of other Department of Education and Training (the Department) student-related policy and practice (for example, transitions, wellbeing, and shared operational matters such as OHS, facilities and staffing)
  • facilitate opportunities for the network to engage with the broader school, local communities and with key partners across the government, business and community sectors to improve student outcomes
  • collaborate with SEILs and other area-based multidisciplinary team members on behalf of the network, 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
  • undertake succession planning for the network chair position in collaboration with the network and the SEILs
  • other (network-specific)

Network executive

Network executives support the network chair in their system leadership role. They model collaboration and co-learning and provide a channel for succession planning.

The role of the network executive is to:

  • provide leadership of the network, play a key role in supporting the network’s agenda and plan the network’s vision and future direction in collaboration with the network chair and SEILs
  • focus network collaboration on the effective implementation of the FISO improvement cycle, including supporting the establishment of smaller, initiative-specific COP within or across networks by using the CoP approach
  • reinforce a CoP approach to network activity that has a relentless focus on improving student outcomes, through mutual accountability, collective responsibility and a rigorous evaluation of the impact of key milestones towards improvement
  • support the network chair to make sure the network is a key forum for building capability, holding professional, evidence-based conversations, sharing practice and analysing school performance data
  • contribute to network discussions on the implementation of other Department student-related policy and practice (for example, transitions, wellbeing, and shared operational matters such as OHS, facilities and staffing) as required
  • support the network chair to facilitate opportunities for the network to engage with the broader school and local communities and with key partners across the government, business and community sectors to improve student outcomes
  • undertake succession planning for network executive positions in collaboration with the network chair and the SEILs
  • other (network-specific)

Senior education improvement leader

SEILs are a conduit and play an important role in facilitating, connecting, integrating and challenging to ensure effective network practice. They help networks adopt an effective CoP approach, and ensure the network focuses on implementing the FISO.

SEILs play a variety of roles in networks, depending on the network’s self-assessed needs and FISO focus area priorities, including:

Connector

Broker relationships to help a network nurture its strengths, bridge areas of development and pursue greater opportunities.

This means the SEIL could:

  • connect networks with experts in education who can contribute to the network’s objectives
  • connect networks with relevant government agencies, businesses and others who have an interest in great student outcomes.

Integrator

Maintain information-sharing relationships with other networks across the state.

This means the SEIL could:

  • foster relationships with other networks to share experience and expertise according to needs
  • support communication channels within the network.

Facilitator

Focus on enabling collaboration between the network’s members, and stimulates interest within the network to ensure member engagement.

The SEIL could assist to respectfully:

  • build trust between members by helping them address outstanding issues
  • help members share performance data to support network initiatives.

Challenge partner

Helps the network members to challenge each other to improve performance and continually challenges the entire network’s performance.

This means the SEIL could:

  • support the evolution of a network from an emerging collegiate and information sharing focus, to a culture of transparent results and practice
  • source professional development that enables challenging conversations in a spirit of reciprocity and professional trust.

Conduit

Act as a bridge between the central office and your network, enabling a two-way flow of information and feedback to align and recognise the network’s efforts and achievements.

This means the SEIL could:

  • help your network interpret the effects of new policies or changes
  • share your network’s successes and feedback to central office for broad dissemination and sharing.