It’s no secret that Australian schools’ performance has been in decline for many years. That’s not for a lack of funding, nor a lack of commitment from countless dedicated educators. But more can be done to advance the learning of all students, no matter their background.
It’s a culture of high expectations, consistently well-managed classes, high behavioural standards, and commitment to explicit teaching that are the not-so-secret sauce behind educational success.
There is no better example of this in the world than the London-based, Michaela Community School. Despite serving mostly disadvantaged students, they’ve delivered exceptional outcomes. More than half of their school leavers have achieved the equivalent of an A grade — more than 2.5 times better than the national average — helping to earn Michaela international praise.
What do Australian schools have to learn from Michaela’s success? How can teachers and school leaders improve practice? How can schools with disadvantaged students truly overcome the educational odds?
Katharine Birbalsingh CBE is principal and founder of Michaela Community School. Katharine and her school are internationally acclaimed for their educational success. She is editor of the books, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Teachers: The Michaela Way and Michaela: The Power of Culture. In recognition of her significant accomplishments and service to disadvantaged students, Katharine was appointed as Chair of the UK’s Social Mobility Commission in 2021.
Glenn Fahey is program director in education policy at CIS. He is author of several reports that cover teacher practice, preparation, resourcing, and accountability.