Loretta – Leading improvement to support all students

classroom Loretta
“Being a leader means guaranteeing quality learning for every student.”

Loretta is the Advanced Skills Teacher and a classroom teacher at Snug Primary School, a government school near Hobart, Tasmania.

As part of her role, Loretta supports teachers and teaching assistants in their work with students with additional needs, including those on the Severe Disability Register (SDR).


Loretta is also a member of the Leadership Team, providing input into the implementation of the school improvement plan through leading one of the school’s professional learning communities (PLC), coaching teachers and undertaking classroom observations.

She is involved in leading teaching and learning, developing herself and others, and engaging and working with the community – all Professional Practices that are described in the Australian Professional Standard for Principals (Principal Standard).

Loretta starts her day in the classroom with her Year 5 students, a class that she shares with another teacher. Today’s lesson on social skills is from a program that focuses on students learning about how their body works and how to regulate emotions.

As an experienced teacher, Loretta constantly looks for ways to improve teaching across the school to improve student engagement and results. Having identified the need to better support students to develop social skills, she researched and selected the program they are now trialling with all Year 3 and Year 5 classes.

By experimenting with new approaches and programs, Loretta demonstrates her capacity to take on board new ideas to lead teaching and learning across the school and provide practical guidance to her colleagues.

Since starting the program, Loretta and her colleagues have seen changes in students’ behaviour, with many now better able to identify, express and regulate their emotions.


Next, Loretta meets with one of the teaching assistants to review her performance and development plan (PDP).

As the Advanced Skills Teacher, Loretta is leading and managing the support needs of students with a disability, as well as for those not achieving the school’s academic benchmarks. Loretta works with teachers and teaching assistants to build their skills, and to plan for and implement learning activities for these students. She works with them to establish and review individual learning plans and to monitor progress and achievement against students’ learning goals.

Loretta works with the teaching assistants to create and review their PDPs and uses the Capability and Values Framework assessment tool as a way to identify areas for growth. “We will develop goals and support will be given to the teaching assistants to achieve these goals. This may be in the form of professional learning or may be organising for them to visit classes. It really depends on the individual needs.” As well as setting individual goals, the teaching assistants have fortnightly meetings to further develop their learning.

A current focus across the school is feedback. Having noticed teachers giving and receiving feedback on their practice, teaching assistants have also started asking for observation and feedback on how they work. Loretta is now arranging for teaching assistants to be involved in similar processes.


Just before lunchtime, Loretta heads out to meet with one of the local high schools to discuss the transition process for Year 6 students – one example of how she engages and works with the community.

The transition program involves two distinct aspects: organising the general transition for all Year 6 students, and meeting the transition needs of students on the SDR.

Loretta takes a carefully-planned approach to suit the needs of the students, their families and carers. She arranges school visits and meetings with the principals of local high schools so that the students and their families can make informed decisions. Once they choose a high school, the Year 6 teacher, high school support teacher and family will meet once a term to ensure all have a good understanding of the student’s needs, with information seen as key to the successful transition.

Additional transition assistance is also provided to any student on an individual learning plan.


In preparation for her upcoming performance and development conversation with the principal, Loretta has some time today to reflect on her teaching and leadership practice.

As well as the Principal Standard, the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (Teacher Standards) provide a framework for Loretta to develop goals for her PDP and to reflect on her own teaching practice. “I find the Teacher Self-Assessment Tool has been particularly helpful when identifying areas for improvement and then to assist me to identify professional learning that would support my growth and development in that area.”

By having a good understanding of the Teacher Standards, Loretta helps her colleagues develop goals for their PDP informed by the school improvement plan, student data and from observations she’s undertaken with them. “I lead teachers through this process and will provide suggestions on improving their practice.”

I lead teachers with their understanding of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers as part of their performance and development plan interviews.

The day ends with a leadership team meeting involving the principal, assistant principal and teacher leaders within the school. “We look extensively at the school improvement plan, strategic plan and student data. A thorough analysis as a leadership team ensures that we target areas for growth and improvement.”

The focus of today’s meeting is reviewing problem solving in mathematics, one of the goals in the school improvement plan. Loretta and the other leaders have brought recent data from their teams. Within Loretta’s PLC they frequently analyse and collect student data on the focus goals. “We have data walls to ensure that student progress is tracked and, within our planning times, we work together to target students who are not making the expected gains or students who require extension.”

As a leadership team, they review and analyse the data across all PLCs and share the teaching strategies being used. They then plan further support and professional learning to progress the goal.

Loretta will take the learnings and information from the meetings back to her PLC to inform teachers about the school goals and improvement priorities and then work with them towards achieving them.

In our regular leadership meetings we consider the school plan and ensure we are working together to achieve whole school consistency.

Loretta provides leadership to the teachers and teaching assistants across the school, developing their expertise in working with students that have additional needs. She has a strong commitment to engaging with the community, working with the students’ families and carers to ensure that all students are provided the best possible support to succeed.

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