With a wave of new curriculum documents set to be released in the coming years, NSW schools are gearing up for the changes ahead.
To support teachers in becoming familiar with the new curriculum, the NSW Department of Education’s mandated release time per week for primary school teachers will rise from at least half an hour per week to an hour per week in 2024.
Schools have some flexibility in implementing this time, allowing them to determine the best approach based on their unique needs and staff's level of familiarity with the new curriculum.
Lucky for us, we have former Principal of Oxley Vale Public School, Luke Norman, on our team. He shares with us the successful approach he used to support his staff in building their familiarity with new NSW curriculum documents.
A Collaborative Approach to Curriculum Familiarisation
Oxley Vale Public School is home to over 350 students in Tamworth, NSW. As early adopters of the new K-6 English and Math syllabus documents, the school took proactive steps to prepare their staff for the changes that lay ahead.
Luke and his team initially experimented with various approaches to foster curriculum familiarity. While reading curriculum documents or professional learning were options, Luke didn’t want his team to be doing this in isolation - he wanted to make it a collaborative and meaningful experience for teaching staff.
Hero was at the heart of curriculum familiarisation for Oxley Vale Public School. Because NSW syllabus outcomes and content are contained within Hero, teachers could access them in an authentic and practical way and extend their curriculum familiarisation by actively using the syllabus.
Data Conversation & Planning Days
Luke lined up release time for teachers so that they could dedicate Thursdays to collaborative work. They were divided into five groups, which included each of the four mainstream stages, and the school’s support unit. Each group of teachers was allocated the entire day on a rotational basis, affording each team two full days per term.
Each week, a particular stage team would come together to discuss, analyse and apply the curriculum in a collaborative way.
While Assistant Principals of Curriculum and Instruction (APCIs) facilitated the sessions, middle leaders were empowered with ownership of decisions around target areas, and learning activities.
Harnessing the Power of Hero
The format of Thursday’s planning days involved teachers first diving into the data within Hero to gain insights into the current student cohort. Hero's real-time data analysis capabilities enabled teachers to quickly identify gaps in student knowledge and determine areas of focus from the syllabus documents.
Driven by data, teachers then selected relevant learning goals, content points and outcomes within Hero, ensuring direct alignment with the NSW syllabus. Sharing these learning goals with their colleagues, they collaborated on developing units of work that addressed the identified goals.
This approach went beyond reading or basic conversations, enabling teachers to use the syllabus within Hero to make data-informed, curriculum-aligned decisions around student learning. It was a system that fostered collaboration and provided consistency across the school, while allowing each teaching group to adapt it to their own unique context.
A Cycle of Continued Collaboration
Further rounds of planning days built upon their initial curriculum familiarisation progress. Teachers analysed data from their previous planning days, assessed the results and determined their next areas of targeted learning.
Using the syllabus contained within Hero, and applying it with real-time data, gave Oxley Vale Public School’s teaching staff a focused purpose to use those learning goals in time. It developed teachers’ understanding of the syllabus in a hands-on way, and they could immediately use it to plan for teaching and learning.
This process effectively brought his teaching staff together for each stage of the teaching and learning cycle - from assessment and reporting, through to planning and implementation, then assessing again.
By prioritising collaboration, utilising a platform like Hero that has pre-loaded NSW syllabus content and outcomes, as well as empowering middle leaders, Oxley Vale Public School have continued to create an environment where teachers felt equipped and confident to embrace the new curriculum.
As other primary schools in NSW embark on their own curriculum familiarisation journey, they can look to Oxley Vale Public School as an example of how collaboration, technology, and empowering leadership can pave the way for successful implementation of the new curriculum.
Senior Hero Consultant and Former NSW Primary Principal
With more than 12 years' as a School Leader, most recently serving as Principal at Oxley Vale Public School in regional NSW, Luke's impressive leadership and passion for integrating technology empowers learners to unlock their full potential.
Learn more about Luke.