Purposeful collaboration for excellence within and across a number of schools

As middle leaders, your ability to work effectively and collaboratively with teachers can further develop their skills and create improved outcomes for students.


A culture of collaboration within schools provides an environment in which teachers are committed to their own learning and collaborating with others, while building the professional capital required to promote excellence and equity, and support the diverse learning needs of all students.

Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) are a proven way for teachers to collaborate at the school level to improve student learning. PLCs create a culture that is:

  • focused on excellence and continuous improvement by linking the learning needs of students with the professional learning and practice of teachers
  • committed to evidence-based decision making and professionalism
  • driven by collaborative expertise.

Communities of Practice (CoPs) enable collaboration across schools, and include co-learning on how to lead school improvement with peers, by using an evidence-based inquiry cycle.

What is purposeful collaboration

Purposeful collaboration requires a school to build collective responsibility and establish a clear, common purpose.

Highly effective teacher collaboration has teachers working together in teams to deepen their knowledge as a group, and transfer their learning to their peers through recurring cycles of inquiry. This process allows teachers and middle leaders to collectively and accurately diagnose student-learning needs, and respond by changing what and how they teach and assess.

Top tips for implementing purposeful collaboration

To effectively target your teaching in all school settings, consider:

  • speaking to your principal about opportunities to use a PLC approach in your school
  • working with your PLC to establish a shared moral purpose, create agreed protocols, put faces on the data, and develop collective responsibility for learning growth of all student
  • undertaking the new PLC Professional Learning Online Modules to build your knowledge of the Victorian PLC approach
  • using the PLC Guide: Implementing FISO with precision, collaboration and inquiry to assist with the implementation of an inquiry cycle to improve student outcomes
  • co-designing, trialling and evaluating approaches to ensure every child benefits from collective knowledge
  • contacting your PLC Regional Manager to arrange visiting other PLCs within and outside your network
  • how you can create opportunities for your peers to observe your classroom practice
  • developing a schedule for when a particular practice will be modelled
  • privileging time for collaboration in varied contexts
  • speaking to your principal about establishing and/or engaging with a Community of Practice across a number of schools.

Starting a conversation with colleagues

As middle leaders, the questions below offer you some conversation starters for discussions in PLCs, teaching teams, or individual conversations with others:

  • What does collaboration with peers look like, feel like, sound like?
  • What strategies can we put in place to enable purposeful collaboration between teachers?
  • How do we know if our collaboration is having an impact?  What changes would you expect to see at: The team level? The teacher level? The student level?
  • How well do we collaborate with each other to co-design appropriate curriculum/pedagogy goals to progress student learning?
  • What protocols can we put in place to enable purposeful collaboration between teachers?
  • What professional learning will support us to improve our practice?
  • How can we use the FISO Improvement Cycle alongside the PLC continuum to identify our next inquiry cycle?
  • How can we collaborate with other schools and networks to contribute to system-wide progress of student learning outcomes?

Explore the latest professional practice note

A Professional Practice Note has been developed to support you and your teachers in implementing purposeful collaboration practices within and across a number of schools, for achieving excellence in practice and student outcomes.

Professional practice note 17: purposeful collaboration for excellence

For more information, or to share your feedback, email: professional.practice@edumail.vic.gov.au