Case Studies

This is a compliation of testimonials regarding our Systemic Performance, Development and Coaching Program.

Dr Mark Merry, Principal of Yarra Valley Grammar, Ringwood, VIC

While Yarra Valley Grammar is a school that is doing well, I believe that there is room for improvement.

All schools, including our own, are hampered by difficulties in adjusting to changing circumstances. Schools are notoriously conservative and we tend to teach the way we were taught.

It is clear to me that to improve learning, the relationship between teachers and students needs to be improved, but having teachers genuinely review their practise is not an easy task.

We knew we needed to review our teaching and we knew that this was going to be difficult. Teachers are primarily practitioners rather than theorists and it is difficult to have them focus on why we teach the way we do.

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Damian McKew, Principal, Clonard College, Geelong, Vic.

Although Clonard College’s record of consistently achieving good and solid VCE results is excellent, our leadership team believes that there is always room for improvement.

Many of our long serving staff members, although attaining well results rarely had the opportunity to reflect on their own teaching practice.

As such, we’d been looking for some form of appraisal system aimed at improving teaching performance.

We were aware that in order to improve teacher capacity, we needed to base it on the model of reflective practice.

The Catholic Education Office Melbourne (CEOM) mentioned that Group 8 Education’s John Corrigan offered an appraisal program that would be worth looking at.

We decided to work with Group 8 Education’s Performance Development and Coaching program for two reasons.

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Christopher Stock, Principal, Emmanuel College, North Altona/Pt Cook, VIC

Every school needs to improve and Emanuel College is no exception.

During my time at the College, we have been on an improvement based approach to teaching and learning.  We know the issues however gaining improvement is much trickier.

We understand that to improve student learning outcomes we need to support colleagues in the improvement of their learning-teaching practice.  Coaching is one strategy for providing this support.

We’d heard about the “Performance, Development and Coaching” program that John Corrigan and Group 8 Education had developed from two different sources.

One was that the Catholic Education Office in Melbourne was working with John and the second was that Rosalie Jones had passed on the recommendation of Dr. Mark Merry, the Principal of Yarra Valley Grammar, where PDC was being implemented.

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Brenden Mair, Director of teaching and learning, CBC St Kilda

We started the implementation of Group8’s PDC program in 2012 and decided to continue with it all through 2013.

At the time we were facing the following issues:

  • The realisation that staff development needed to become a priority
  • Have a closer look at what behavioural change needed to take place in the classroom as well as outside the classroom
  • Interaction between colleagues
  • Wanted to become a much better performing school
  • Development and improvement of our “staff capital”
  • Become better at doing our job across the whole school

What really struck us right from the start was that John’s program was very structured and we felt that this was exactly what we needed.  I also feel that this structured approach reduces implementation pressures significantly.

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Gerald Bain-King, Christian Brothers’ College St. Kilda, St. Kilda, VIC

In the past CBC was a well performing school.  Unfortunately this has changed and standards have dropped over the last few years.

We felt we were underperforming as a school.  Key Performance Indicators, including the national standards of literacy and numeracy showed that our school wasn’t functioning as well as it could.

We knew we wanted to improve our school in the areas of capacity building for our teachers but more so across the school.

We’ve been undertaking long term school change as an organisation where we’ve been transitioning from one school model to another.

The imperative to change that came from within the school, there was no external pressure put on us.

In fact I was employed to improve our school’s performance.

Our goal was to ensure we lifted our standards academically as well as in staff professionalism including:

  • Creating an unified and consistent view of the role of a teacher
  • What constitutes good professional conduct between peers as well as students
  • staff engagement in education forums
  • Staff being active in developing programs and initiatives in the school
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Chris Blake, Principal Penola Catholic College, Broadmeadows, VIC

During the formal SIF school review in 2010, one of the issues that came out was that staff engagement and working in teams should be improved.

One aspect that was highlighted was that staff feel they work well individually but that they don’t work well in teams.

In May 2011, I attended the Principals’ Conference, and met John Corrigan of Group 8 Education at his stand.

What piqued my interest in the “Performance, Development and Coaching” program that John offers was its support around improving team work for teachers.

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Jeff Parker, Acting Principal, Holy Eucharist St Albans South, St Albans South, VIC

It is a well-known fact that education in the 21st century is changing and that schools need to adapt to the changes as a matter of course.

Schools as well as the Catholic Education Office in Victoria are aware of this and are making sure that schools get support on how to adapt to the new reality.

To help us with this change, the Catholic Education office suggested we take Group 8’s “Performance, Development and Coaching” (PDC) program on board.

I attended one of the PDC program presentations delivered by John Corrigan where he spoke about how coaching and mentoring of staff can bring about positive cultural change for the school, and at the same time improve student learning outcomes.

The PDC program is all about cultural change, helping teachers to move out of the “chalk and talk” teaching model into facilitating better learning outcomes for students.

Here are some aspects of the program that resonated with us.

  • We knew we needed to instigate change from a traditional teaching method to developing a new method of personalised learning and 21st century teaching.
  • We wanted to make a transition from “traditional teaching” to a new pedagogy.
  • We want a classroom where the teacher is the facilitator and the children are engaged and responsible for their own learning, rather than the teacher standing up the front giving instructions, along the lines of “you just listen and I pass on the information”.
  • We also want the children to have some choices in their activities.
  • We want teaching to be more children centred rather than teacher centred.
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Sue Byrne, Principal – Sunnydale Community College, Co Durham, UK

I first came across John Corrigan’s Performance Development and Coaching program in 2009, while attending a School Leader’s Conference in the UK.

I hear John speak about some of the work he was doing with Australian school communities which really triggered my interest.

My school is in a low socio-economic area and we faced some difficult challenges.  We have high levels of children who qualify for free meals, and alcohol is a big issue across the community as well.

Our school was wasn’t doing well at the time.  In fact, we were part of the “National Challenge” which represented the bottom 640 schools out of the 25,000 schools in England.  I’ll tell you where we now sit four years later… but suffice to say we were ready for a change, pretty much along the lines of “when the student is ready – the teacher appears”.

So after meeting with John and getting a handle on the program, I was keen to become involved.

There were two aspects which really appealed to me:

  • Staff development through cognitive coaching
  • Student feedback to their teachers – which I believe is the most powerful tool in the toolbox.
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Peter Hayes, Principal – St Brendan’s Primary School

We’re a school that is always looking to improve teacher practice.

Many of our students come from non English speaking backgrounds – and a few know very little or no English when they start with us.

Our students make incredible gains over these very formative years and by year 3 catch up and by year 5 operate at or above the minimum levels set by NAPLAN.

Having said that, looking for ways that we can improve our practices so that their gains are greater and quicker is really what I’m all about.

The Catholic Education Office approached me in 2011 and spoke very highly of John.  His amenable manner, product and approach to how the leadership staff could be coached to support staff in learning and teaching really appealed to me.

I believe having an outsider come in and look at our school to help us improve learning and teaching is a great opportunity.  Getting help and support in developing better structures seemed a very good move to me, my team and it would most certainly benefit our students.

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Rhiannon McGee, Pastoral Care, Loreto

In my role as Director of Pastoral Care, my focus is on our students’ wellbeing.  I mainly work with year coordinators providing structure and discipline where appropriate.  I also develop wellbeing programs for students at risk or with mental health issues.

Our school wants to improve teacher practice by having our staff develop their skills continuously.  In addition, we want to “open up” our class rooms.

Our leadership team is fully aware that this sort of cultural change needs to be implemented slowly and with professional support.

Our leadership team comprehensively evaluated the Group 8 Education PD&C program and decided it would help us achieve our outcome of improved teacher practice.

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Kath Walsh, Development Manager, Sacred Heart Newtown

Over the last few years our school has been working closely and diligently on the SIF (School Improvement Framework), and we’ve discovered that one of the main areas we can improve is staff attitude.

Being part of the leadership team comprising our principal, 3 deputies and 3 non-teaching staff members, I was involved in searching for a program which would improve our school’s results.

We were initially exposed to John’s work through reading the “The success zone” where we learned about Red and Blue Zone thinking response mechanisms.

The leadership team subsequently decided to buy into the PD&C program as a way to improve teacher effectiveness.

What I particularly liked was the idea that everyone was from teachers, non-teaching staff and students would be involved in the program.  I also saw it as a way to take control of my own personal development.

The more I heard about the program the more convinced I became that joining was the right decision for our school.

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Christine Forsyth, Woodham Community Technical College, County Durham, UK.

The school is situated in a low socio economic area – effectively a housing commission estate town.  There are around 800 students on the roll, almost all white British.  Attainment on entry is broadly average, 21% of students are eligible for free school meals and 26% have special educational needs.

Broadly speaking, the school was facing…

  • Behavioural problems.
  • Low level disruptions.
  • Teachers who blamed the children if the outcome wasn’t good enough.
  • Teachers who showed no respect and shouted at children.
  • Generally the ethos wasn’t as it needed to be to maximise learning.

In January 2006, Ofsted, the official UK body responsible for inspecting and evaluating school performance, judged Woodham to be “Level 3 – Requires improvement; used to be satisfactory” – putting them at third of four levels, which meant the school urgently needed to improve its standards.

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Vincent Feeney, Principal, St Joseph’s College, Ferntree Gully, Victoria

At St Joseph’s we have a culture of continuous improvement, a key focus being on the development of teachers.  An identification of strengths and weaknesses which is achieved by surveying every student looking at key questions around learning engagement.

As part of the Catholic Education System we’ve utilised the School Improvement Framework (SIF) survey model to provide this feedback.

However, over time we found the SIF, while valuable, did not meet all our requirements for comprehensive student feedback.

The SIF samples 25 students per year level of approximately 200 students and provides generalised feedback about teaching and learning programs.

And while a 25 student sample is considered statistically significant, we were not happy with the spread (or lack thereof) across the teaching staff.  25 students per year meant some teachers only got feedback from 2 – 3 students, not the whole class.

We were looking for a more focused instrument which would provide specific, comprehensive feedback to individual teachers.

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