Professional Learning Communities

From Term 1 2017, Victorian government and Catholic schools will use the new Victorian Curriculum F-10. Curriculum related information is currently being reviewed and may be subject to change.

For more information on the curriculum, see:
The Victorian Curriculum F–10 - VCAA

Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) are an approach to school improvement where groups of teachers work collaboratively at the school level to improve student outcomes.​

Professional Learning Community (PLC) schools start from a simple idea: students learn more when their teachers work together. 

Building a PLC is a proven way for schools to increase student learning by creating a culture that is: 

  • focussed on continuous improvement by linking the learning needs of students with the professional learning and practice of teachers
  • committed to professionalism
  • fuelled by collaborative expertise.

The 10 principles of effective PLCs

Found in all effective PLCs are 10 principles that bring together the best available research on school improvement:

Student learning focus

School improvement starts with an unwavering focus on student learning.

Collective responsibility

For every child to achieve, every adult must take responsibility for their learning.

Instructional leadership

Effective school leaders focus on teaching and learning.

Collective efficacy

Teachers make better instructional decisions together.

Adult learning

Teacher learn best with others, on the job.

Privileged time

Effective schools provide time and forums for teacher conversations about student learning.

Continuous improvement

Effective teams improve through recurring cycles of diagnosing student learning needs, and planning, implementing and evaluating teaching responses to them.

Evidence driven

Effective professional learning and practice is evidence based and data driven.

System focus

The most effective school leaders contribute to the success of other schools.

Integrated regional support

Schools in improving systems are supported by teams of experts who know the communities they work in.

What makes a PLC work?

Leadership commitment

Evidence from best practice research suggests that for a culture of collaborative professionalism to take root in a school, its leader must commit to all ten principles of effective PLCs.

Principals of PLC schools show this commitment by:

  • making PLC implementation a school improvement priority
  • establishing effective professional learning team structures across the school
  • allocating time for teachers to collaborate and work in professional learning teams
  • appointing PLC instructional leaders to lead professional learning teams
  • releasing PLC instructional leaders to build their capacity to lead teams effectively, including using a consistent and structured cycle of evidence-based curriculum planning.
Instructional leadership

Instructional leaders are classroom-based learning specialists who work directly with teachers to improve classroom practice. They are released from classroom duties to:

  • lead teams of teachers and build their capacity to use collaborative practices that will have a positive impact on learning outcomes
  • develop and embed a shared team vision and commitment to ambitious goals and targets for student and teacher learning
  • focus their teams on using an inquiry cycle to measure the impact of their teaching and identify areas for professional learning
  • support their teams to collect and analyse multiple sources of data to assess learning impact and build capacity in curriculum and assessment, and instructional and pedagogical content practices
  • drive a culture of trust, quality relationships and individual and collective accountability
  • build a shared understanding of outstanding teaching and a collective commitment to achieving it, using an inquiry approach embedded in the day-to-day work of every teacher
  • develop and embed rigorous systems and processes to support a range of collaborative strategies that focus the work of PLCs
  • evaluate impact and differentiate support to ensure all teachers are continuously improving their classroom practices
  • build self-awareness and leadership skills that build collective efficacy through a culture of high expectations for all
  • deepen understanding of how to implement effective classroom observation and feedback
  • increase understanding of how student perception surveys can contribute to improving the quality of teaching.
High quality resources

The Department is developing the Evaluating My Impact resource which will soon be available to all government and non-government schools. The resource will support teacher teams to:

  • generate data and evidence about student learning
  • analyse and interpret student learning data and evidence
  • determine the learning impact of their teaching.
Innovative evaluation

Effective PLCs use data about the impact of PLC implementation on teacher practice and student perception to track progress and identify areas for improvement.

Best practice networks

PLC leaders work with other PLC schools in their geographic area to share effective practice and solve common problems. Over time these networks of 'middle leaders' will bring together common school improvement priorities.

PLCs and FISO

Creating a culture of working collaboratively to continuously improve teaching and learning is at the heart of the Framework for Improving Student Outcomes  (FISO).

The FISO Framework is used by all Victorian government schools to focus their efforts on key areas known to have the greatest impact on school improvement. For more information, see: Framework for Improving Student Outcomes

Victorian PLC initiative

The Victorian Government is investing $32.3 million to foster effective PLCs across the system.

Over the next four years more than 800 government schools will receive intensive implementation support that includes a comprehensive program of professional learning and expert advice from regionally-based teams.

These teams, made up of experienced educators including a dedicated PLC regional manager, advise, coach and train school and instructional leaders in all aspects of PLC implementation, including:

  • budget and resource prioritisation
  • meeting facilitation
  • inquiry-based improvement
  • curriculum and assessment
  • data interpretation and analysis.

Victorian PLC schools have access to a continuous stream of data about the impact of PLC implementation on teacher practice and student perception.

PLC Maturity Matrix

The PLC Maturity Matrix is designed to help schools track their own progress toward becoming an effective PLC.

For each key element of an effective PLC, the Maturity Matrix provides indicative statements so that a school can self-assess its level of progress and set developmental goals.

PLC Maturity Matrix

PLC Maturity Matrix

Get involved

The Victorian PLC initiative is open to all Victorian government schools.

Applications for the 2018 intake have closed.

Applications for the 2019 intake will open in Term 3, 2018.

To learn more about getting involved, see: Learn about the Victorian PLC initiative

For further information, contact the PLC regional manager in your region:

South Eastern Victoria Region

Pauline Jelleff
Moe Office
Telephone: (03) 5127 0400
email: jelleff.pauline.p@edumail.vic.gov.au

Cathryn Stephens
Dandenong Office
Telephone: (03) 8765 5718
email: stephens.cathryn.j@edumail.vic.gov.au

South Western Victoria Region

Brenton Schintler
Warrnambool Office
Telephone: (03) 5564 3542
email: schintler.brenton.r@edumail.vic.gov.au

Maria Claridge
Footscray Office
Telephone: (03) 9194 6311
email: claridge.maria.m@edumail.vic.gov.au

North Eastern Victoria Region

Hollie Kane
Ringwood Office
Telephone: (03) 8392 9471
email: kane.hollie.h@edumail.vic.gov.au

Claire Kelly
Benalla Office
Telephone: (03) 8392 9500
email: kelly.claire.s@edumail.vic.gov.au

North Western Victoria Region

Anita Calore
Coburg Office
Telephone: (03) 8393 4509
email: calore.anita.a@edumail.vic.gov.au

Wendy O'Connor
Bendigo Office
Telephone: (03) 5440 3137
email: oconnor.wendy.w@edumail.vic.gov.au