By Mathilda Joubert, Principal of SCEA Institute of Teaching and Learning
The SCEA Institute of Teaching and Learning provides education consultancy services to SCEA schools as well as other organisations across Australia. We consult on a range of areas, including assessment, Christian education, creative thinking, curriculum development, school improvement planning, school leadership and teaching and learning.
It has been said that a management consultant is someone who borrows your watch to tell you the time – and then keeps the watch. So what do education consultants do, and how do we do it at SCEA?
Official definitions will tell you that education consultants provide professional advice, guidance and support to teachers or school leaders and assist with educational planning that will lead to improved outcomes for young people.
Most organisations reject ideas from the outside (even good ones) because of the fatal NIH syndrome – “it’s Not Invented Here”. Here at SCEA we therefore believe it is imperative that we do not design solutions for schools but rather work with schools, acting as a catalyst for individuals and teams to design their own solutions. We do this by helping teachers, leaders and schools to look inside, outside, forward and upward.
We assist schools to look objectively at their own performance (which does resemble borrowing your watch to tell you the time) since it can be difficult to see the woods from the trees when you are too close to the action. We also know that internally generated answers to solving key challenges are more likely to be embraced and implemented and therefore we help schools and individuals to identify their own capabilities, skills and potential.
Consultants do “keep the watch”, since we collect learning from all the projects that we have worked on (e.g. I have worked in more than 500 schools in numerous countries around the world). It is a priviledge to observe such a variety of practice, but this comes with a responsibility – to continually share best practice and help schools look outside at what is possible. We also have to continually stay up to date with the latest research to help schools identify what will make the biggest positive impact on student learning.
We work with teachers and schools to plan for the future, to develop strategies for continuous improvement and we challenge them to invent next practice. Even great internal ideas often have a high mortality rate. We therefor also work with schools on committing to action, building internal capability and supporting implementation of new ideas.
Finally, we know that all our plans are in vain unless we declare our dependence on God (Psalm 127:1). We therefore help schools to anchor everything we do within God’s ultimate plan for our lives.
A few examples of recent education consultancy projects include mentoring individual teachers, providing advice to schools on embedding the Biblical Foundations curriculum, facilitating school improvement planning with the Leadership team at Kalamunda Christian School, developing a Year 7 enquiry learning program with Middle school staff from Scotch College, advising ACARA on strategies to develop student creative and critical thinking skills (K – 12), working with staff from Beechboro Christian School to develop their gifted and talented extension program, supporting teachers at Ellenbrook Christian College to embed ICT across the curriculum, working with Swan Christian College Science department on analysing common assessment tasks and reviewing the WA Government Creative Connections Strategy for the Department for Culture and the Arts and the Department of Education.
Do get in touch (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you want us to look at the time together.
 Attributed to the American advertising executive Carl Ally, 1965.