Riverside Network

Fremantle schools embrace the science of learning

A 3 year commitment to implement the latest evidence-based teaching practices in some of the most established schools in the western suburbs of Perth.
Led by visionary principal Melanie Osborne of Melville PS and Network Lead Principal Phillip Springett from Attadale PS. These tenacious leaders, along with their united Riverside Network counterparts have pulled together a wonderful collaboration of 9 western suburb schools with the ultimate purpose of aligning teaching in the network with the most evidence-backed practices available.

The Riverside Network of Schools consists of some of the oldest schools in Perth. Situated along the gorgeous Swan River, and in close proximity to historic Fremantle. Students at these schools learn in one of the most picturesque parts of WA. In most cases, these schools perform above national average, but for these leaders, they knew more was possible for their schools, and they sought to align teaching practice to the research.

It is clear from the evidence that when teachers adhere to the principles of Cognitive Science (Science of learning), it can improve outcomes for all levels of achievement, all phases of learning, and across all domains of knowledge.

The Riverside Network Teaching Project is led by visionary principal Melanie Osborne of Melville PS and Network Lead Principal Phillip Springett from Attadale PS. In partnership with Melville PS, Caralee CS, Kardinya PS, East Fremantle PS, North Fremantle PS, Attadale PS, Richmond PS, Palmyra PS and Bicton PS.

Over the course of the project, more than 2000 students will be impacted by their teachers implementing the same high-impact teaching strategies that our students loved and benefited from. The same practices feature in our Research to Impact course. Meaning that in those classrooms, there will be more teacher-guided learning, more student discussion, more retrieval and rehearsal of important content using daily review, more feedback to the teacher via student whiteboards, and more success for every student with embedded differentiation.

The feedback from teachers has already been so positive. We consistently hear that students love their daily reviews, speak and write with better vocabulary, and are more confident in all aspects of their learning.

We could say we are surprised, but this is the pattern everywhere we go. It is so satisfying for us to know that those students get to experience that success, but also for their teachers — because we know how incredible it is as teachers when we get to truly impact all of our students.

For those who don’t teach, it might be hard to fully understand, but as much as we strive as teachers, it can be challenging to impact all of our students at all times.

…and when we fail our students, it erodes our self-efficacy. In most instances, it isn’t our fault because teacher training is a lottery, but it doesn’t have to be this way.

There are a handful of strategies that allow all students to experience both success and challenge, and this, as simple as it sounds, is one of the secrets to teacher fulfilment… success and challenge for ALL students. That’s a recipe for happy students, fulfilled teachers, and thriving schools.

With support from the South West Metropolitan Regional Education Office, we’ve had a wonderful time delivering the workshops from the historic school site in Fremantle. A short distance from the Fremantle Port and the site of the old prison, where the 5 meter tall limestone walls still loom.

Our visits to each of the Riverside Network schools for teaching demonstrations and instructional coaching have been some of the most well-received that we have ever done. The students have been phenomenal to work with, and their teachers have been humble and open-minded. When we return to coach the teachers, the uptake in the strategies has been mind-blowing. Some classes welcome us into their rooms with unbelievable enthusiasm before putting on showcases of the strategies that in many cases are exemplary. The teachers are happy, as are their students — and we leave the schools glowing. Sharing the success of teachers as if they were happening in our schools because each win is potentially a life changed. It sounds dramatic, but if you had seen what we have… then you would know it was accurate. Effective teaching can change lives.

There was a time when naysayers would warn us that this style of teaching was only appropriate for remediation of underperforming students. We knew this wasn’t true. We saw with our own eyes that all levels of our students benefited. We didn’t just close the gap in achievement, we raised the outcomes of everyone. This is exactly what we see happen in every class that truly embeds the principles from the science of learning. An experienced teacher recently gave us this incredible bit of feedback:

“This has had more impact on my teaching than all of the PDs I’ve done in the last 18 years of teaching.”

If teachers and leaders didn’t appreciate the work we do, then we wouldn’t continue. Thanks to all of the support from schools in the network, and outside in the broader educational community, we are able to continue sharing this knowledge with teachers and improving the outcomes of thousands of students.

The Riverside Network Teaching Project continues on next year with a new group of enthusiastic teachers and leaders who will be immersed in a year of professional learning focusing on High-Impact Teaching Strategies, but with an ever-improving suite of cutting-edge resources.

—Jared and Jordan