Quality Learning and Equity through Collaborative Practice

Campbelltown Performing Arts High School is a specialist performing arts high school with an enrolment of approximately 1100 students serving a diverse area of South West Sydney. 35% of the student population come from a non-English speaking background and 112 students identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. The school draws 60% of its enrolments from local schools and 40% through open audition in the areas of dance, drama, music and circus.

The main focus of the school is to improve student learning outcomes through the consistent application of quality teaching practices underpinned by whole-school, and targeted, teacher professional learning. The school has a strong reputation for future-focused learning informed by sustained national and global partnerships and comprehensive evaluation pocesses.

    Case Study

    Campbelltown Performing Arts High School has implemented several initiatives to improve the quality of learning through a range of collaborative practices. In redesigning learning for students, the school focused on pedagogy, curriculum, assessment and reporting and has achieved this by providing high quality professional learning and support, enabling purposeful collaboration and building capacity for evaluative thinking amongst teachers.

    Professional learning within the school is contextual and grounded in the work of teaching and learning. Underpinning the approach to professional learning across the school is a culture of trust, developing teacher ownership over their own professional learning, collaboration and supported risk taking to allow teachers to improve their practice.

    In developing professional learning opportunities for staff there is a strong focus on providing conditions for teachers to work collaboratively, and professional learning is personalised to ensure that teacher needs are met and that their capacity is enhanced. Professional learning is codified, personalised and embedded through a range of models including action learning, disciplined innovation, collaborative programming, team teaching, feedback and critique, mentoring and coaching.

    Every teacher in the school has a high-quality professional development plan where they have identified goals and are supported to work towards achieving them. Underpinning this is a strong culture of evaluative thinking as teachers are supported to identify methods of evaluating their progress towards goals and evaluating the impact of their practice.

    Action learning is used extensively allowing teachers to work in teams to research, implement and evaluate the impact of new practices on student engagement and learning outcomes. Working collaboratively, teachers reflect on their own practice and engage in collaborative learning with colleagues and take control over their own learning to resolve workplace challenges and improve practice. This approach has resulted in future focused practices including project-based learning, integrated learning, self and peer assessment, development of future focused skills progressions and Learning Advisory becoming deeply embedded as part of regular teaching practices in the school.

    Using action learning and design thinking, the school has also redesigned assessment practices developing future focused skills progressions that support teachers, students and parents to understand and reflect upon skills in collaboration, creativity, critical thinking and communication. The school has also implemented Learning Advisory, a program ensuring every student is known and supported as both a young person and as a learner. Students work in small groups with a learning advisor to set goals, engage in a wellbeing curriculum and prepare for student led conferences where they share their learning with their parents and their Learning Advisor. The purpose of this program is to improve transition to high school, focus on student wellbeing, develop students’ metacognitive skills and ownership of learning and deepen their engagement in learning.

    Notably, students in Years 7 and 8 are engaged in an integrated curriculum in STEM (Science, Technology, Mathematics) and Humanities (English, HSIE, PDHPE) bringing together the most successful components of school-based professional learning, research and development. Students are team taught in by subject experts in villages, develop future focused skills and work collaboratively to engage in projects that are connected to the real world. At the conclusion of each project, students present at their Exhibition of Learning where over 700 parents, family and community members attend to celebrate student achievement.



    As a result of the work undertaken at Campbelltown Performing Arts High School the following has been achieved:

    • Literacy and numeracy value added results for Years 7-9 VA are above SSSG + state in every domain. Trend data has indicated improvement in every domain over the past 4 years
    • Tell Them From Me data indicates student feedback about the drivers of student outcomes and student engagement are above NSW Government norms
    • The Western Sydney University evaluation of the Integrated model demonstrated increased teacher capacity, improved student work, enhanced transition, increased student ownership and strengthened community involvement
    • Community partnerships have been enhanced through community consultation, the implementation of Learning Advisory, student led conferences and Exhibitions of Learning with 99% of responses from parents/community consultation demonstrating ‘excellent’ or ‘outstanding’ levels of satisfaction
    • Contextually relevant solutions have been created including the development and implementation of future-focused skills progressions across the school
    • Teacher identity has been enhanced and practice strengthened through collaborative practices and personalised professional learning. Every teacher has high quality PDP underpinned by collaborative observation and evidence informed evaluation and reflection
    • Teacher feedback in the People Matters survey placed CPAHS above network and OG on every measure of high performance
    • Further education opportunities for students have been enhanced with 51% of graduates pursuing further study including 35% of Year 12 students enrolling into university vs 15% in the Campbelltown area


    Specific reference to Gonski 2.0


    Recommendation 10: 

    Accelerate the development of contemporary pedagogy through the use of collaboration, mentoring, observation and feedback, including from colleagues and students, by incorporating these practices into the core role of teachers and creating the conditions to enable teachers to engage in them.

    Recommendation 13

    Create a continuously improving profession through the provision of high-quality professional learning for teachers; appropriate to their career stage, development needs and the changes rapidly occurring in society.

    Recommendation 14

    Develop a comprehensive national teacher workforce strategy to better match supply with workforce demands, including skill and capability requirements.



    Finding 11

    Implementation of effective induction practices and appropriate conditions are critical to support the transition from initial teacher education into the profession for early career teachers and play an important role in promoting retention and professional growth.

    Finding 12

    Certification at the Highly Accomplished and Lead levels of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers recognises and promotes the development of collaborative learning professionals who strive to continually reflect upon and improve their practice and that of their colleagues. Such acknowledgement can play a key role in keeping excellent teachers working with students and helping to improve colleagues’ pedagogical practices.