Thank you to all our Stronger Smarter Leadership Program (SSLP) alumni who have responded to our Stronger Smarter Census over the years.
In the 2022 Stronger Smarter Census, a total of 788 SSLP alumni responded, representing 18% of our total SSLP alumni. Respondents were in various roles, with 29% in school leadership positions. The results show that educators are making significant changes to their workplace practice, which are contributing towards ‘Closing the Gap’ through improvements to academic results, attendance, and classroom engagement for First Nations students.
View our summary report from the 2022 Stronger Smarter Census here. The SSLP recognises that the steps to transformative change depend on individual contexts. Our program aims to provide participants with the incentive, and the tools to start on this change journey through a Workplace Challenge to enact the Stronger Smarter Approach (SSA) in their schools and workplaces.
88% of respondents had completed or were still working on their Workplace Challenge. 41% of participants had gone beyond the initial Workplace Challenge.
Results of the 2022 Stronger Smarter Census show that SSLP alumni are making decisions to do something different in their schools and classrooms, with nearly 90% of respondents reporting that they had completed or were still working on their Workplace Challenge.
Alumni describe how the SSA provides an underlying framework and shared language for whole school visions and values. Key components in a journey of transformative change are greater staff collaboration, greater community voice, and creating Strong and Smart classrooms. High-Expectations Relationships provide the thread to bring everyone along on this journey. As schools move through this journey, they are seeing greater student motivation and classroom engagement which helps to drive improved school attendance and academic outcomes.
All Census respondents were clear that for transformative change to occur at the whole school level, there must be a collaborative approach. Alumni describe how it is easier to bring staff along on the journey or work with others for change when those staff have also undertaken the SSLP.
For some schools, however, sending everyone to the SSLP is not possible, and some alumni are using the tools and strategies provided in the SSLP to introduce the SSA to their staff. Alumni describe how high-expectations relationships play a major role and the SSA provides an underlying framework with a common language and values. Together, these become an integral part of the way the school operates. Alumni describe this as a visible Stronger Smarter ethos with a whole school approach to culturally safe practices, shared responsibility, high expectations and common goals.
Some alumni in leadership positions describe how they have changed their leadership style to be more collaborative, to give staff more autonomy and open up dialogue about transformative change in the school. As staff are given more input into decisions, this results in greater staff cohesiveness with greater buy-in for changes and improvements.
If schools are to enact local solutions to improve outcomes for First Nations students, it is essential to understand the contexts and needs of local families and improve opportunities for community voice in the school.
Alumni report that they are using High-Expectations Relationships as a key strategy to change conversational processes with parents and local community. This involves deeper listening with more respectful conversations. This leads to greater community trust and confidence that their voices will be heard and respected. As these relationships change, schools are creating more opportunities for local First Nations communities to be involved in the school planning and curriculum design and delivery.
80% of participants said they had changed, on an ongoing basis, the way they interact with parents and/or community members.
With this increased trust between community and staff, alumni report that more families are coming into their schools and attending school events. Alumni describe how these improved relationships between the school and community can result in partnerships that bring greater cultural knowledge into the school. This all contributes to better student outcomes when students see the community and school working together.
Strong and Smart classrooms
Alumni report that after attending the SSLP, they are using deliberate and planned strategies to create inclusive learning environments and build stronger relationships with students and between students. This involves strategies to get to know students better and understand different learning styles, using strength-based language and setting high expectations.
96% of participants who worked in classrooms said they had made some change to their teaching practice after attending the SSLP.
School staff are taking time to learn more about their local First Nations culture and are ensuring that schools and classrooms are culturally safe. As they develop better connections with the local community, there are more opportunities to bring cultural knowledge into the classroom.
In these Strong and Smart classrooms, alumni report that students have a greater sense of belonging, improved social and emotional and wellbeing and greater confidence in their own ability. These changes are leading to a better attitude to learning with greater motivation and engagement, students more likely to believe in themselves and see education as important.
The 2022 Stronger Smarter Census is a first step in understanding the role that the Stronger Smarter Approach plays in improving learning outcomes for First Nations Students. Our alumni tell us that they are using High-Expectations Relationships to bring staff together to create positive change. Alumni are building Strong and Smart classrooms where there is greater student wellbeing, and all students can reach their full learning potential. When there is a Stronger Smarter ethos across the school, everyone holds high expectations and values the voices and knowledges of Frist Nations people.