What works best in education: the politics of collaborative expertise

Schools Students Teachers Classrooms Australia

This report presents a series of tasks designed to reduce the problem of within-school variability by seeking out and scaling up teacher expertise.


In a previous paper, What Doesn’t Work in Education: The Politics of Distraction, I argued that the aim of schooling is for every student to gain at least a year’s worth of learning for a year’s input. I further argued that many policy-makers and systems are persistently drawn to the wrong kind of education interventions – distractors that will not help us realise this ambitious aim. From new types of schools to getting more adults into them, we need to declare these ‘fixes’ distractors and move to more fertile territory.

What we need instead is a defensible and compelling narrative that leads to long-term, coherent and focused system-wide attention on student learning. I call this territory ‘the politics of collaborative expertise’. Its premise is that there is differential expertise across our schooling system and that there can be wide variation within schools. At the same time, there is a remarkable spread of expertise that can be identified, nurtured, esteemed and brought together to reduce this variance.

The aim of this paper is to begin describing what a model of collaborative expertise would look like and what we need to get done to make it a reality.

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