Developing collective efficacy

​Collective efficacy refers to a shared belief that the school's staff can have a positive impact on student achievement – despite other influences in the students' lives that challenge their success.

Collective efficacy is evident when teachers see themselves as part of a team working for their students. When educators believe in their collective ability to lead the improvement of student outcomes, higher levels of achievement result (Donohoo, 2018).

Research has demonstrated that in schools where there is a high degree of collective efficacy, teachers display a positive attitude to professional development, exhibit deeper implementation of evidence-based instructional strategies, and have a stronger focus on academic pursuits.  In addition, student behaviour improves, and they exhibit more positive beliefs about their ability to grow and learn at school. (Donohoo, 2017).

Role of principals and school leaders

The role of principals and school leaders is to:

  • Recognise the strong correlation between their instructional leadership and the ability of teachers to collaborate for improvement
  • Provide structures that support teachers to engage in collaborative cycles of inquiry that build literacy and numeracy knowledge and skills
  • Build relational trust among teachers
  • Trust teachers to lead their own professional learning
  • Model the language of collective efficacy

As collective efficacy develops in the school, the next step is to monitor the work of collaborative teacher inquiries and provide feedback so that the work is focussed, achievable, and short-term wins are celebrated.

Inquiry questions can be informed by:

  • The curriculum
  • Various sources of data from the literacy or numeracy review
  • Identified literacy and numeracy practices of the disciplines
  • Professional learning needs of the teachers
  • The school's vision, including developing and sustaining a whole school literacy and/or numeracy culture

Professional learning communities

A structure for facilitating teacher collaboration within the school to improve student outcomes can be through establishing Professional Learning Communities. See Professional Learning Communities.

Communities of Practice

Collective efficacy involving groups of schools is facilitated by Communities of Practice (CoP). Working at this level enhances the potential for success, as schools share experiences, undertake shared inquiries and provide models and supports for each other.

Communities of Practice focus on implementing FISO with support from Senior Education Improvement Leaders (SEILs), Area Directors and multidisciplinary teams. Resources and self-assessment tools support the implementation, facilitation, connection and sharing practices of the network.


Donohoo, J. & Katz, S. (2017) When teachers believe, students achieve. The Learning Professional. Vol. 38 No. 6

Donohoo, J., Hattie, J. & Eells, R. (2018) The power of collective Efficacy. Educational Leadership Vol 75 No 6 ASCD