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Our Work

Our clients

Since our inception in 2014, Learning First has worked with a range of clients, including:

Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL)

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

British Columbia Ministry of Education

Catholic Education Office Melbourne

Catholic Education Office, Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn

Florida Department of Education

National Center on Education and the Economy

New South Wales Department of Education

New South Wales Education Standards Authority (NESA)

Northern Territory Department of Education

Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)

Queensland Department of Education

South Australia Department for Education

Tasmania Department of Education

The Myer Foundation

Victoria Department of Education and Training

Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA)

Western Australia Department of Education

Featured reports

What we teach matters: How quality curriculum improves student outcomes.

This report written in collaboration with Dr David Steiner, Executive Director of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy, sets out the evidence that quality curriculum matters to student achievement.

Preparing to lead: Lessons in principal development from high-performing education systems.

In recent decades school systems have spent huge sums on leadership courses for aspiring principals, but they have not got the value they need. This report, commissioned by the National Center on Education and the Economy, shows how four of the world’s highest-performing systems in PISA tests – Ontario, Singapore, Shanghai and Hong Kong – have developed leadership training that uses deep knowledge of their individual system to prepare aspiring principals. Download the country briefs here.

Australia’s Primary Challenge: How to lift teacher quality in the early school years Australian edition.

This report shows how four of the world’s highest-performing school systems – Hong Kong, Japan, Finland, and Shanghai – place a strong emphasis on teacher subject expertise, even in early year schooling. In these and other systems, the most effective teachers do not just know their subjects (content knowledge) they also how to teach them (pedagogical content knowledge). Acquiring both forms of knowledge is more important and more difficult than many people realise. This report was commissioned by the National Center on Education and the Economy – the original report is available here, along with tools and appendices.

Beyond PD: Teacher professional learning in high-performance systems Australian edition.

We spend millions of dollars on teacher professional development, but it’s not having the desired impact on our kids’ learning. But in some systems it is working. This report shows how British Columbia, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Singapore improve teaching in schools. Why is professional learning having an impact in these systems? What are the steps other systems can take to refine their improvement strategies? This report was commissioned by the National Center on Education and the Economy – the original report is available here along with related materials and tools.

Other Public Reports

The problem with finding the main idea

This report, written by Dr David Steiner, Executive Director of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy, and Jacqueline Magee, shows how systemic assessments of student learning that isolate skills like “finding the main idea” encourage teachers to place an unhelpful emphasis on the teaching of these “skills”. Drawing on examples from the United States, the report explains why this approach fails to lead to improvements in student learning.

High quality curriculum and system improvement

This report, written by Dr David Steiner, Executive Director of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy, in collaboration with Learning First, discusses how school systems can focus on curriculum to help improvement student learning and equity. It sets out current approaches to curriculum development and implementation and their implications for school improvement in the United States and Australia. It also shows a way forward for systems to support and encourage the take-up of quality curriculum at scale

Curriculum literacy in schools of education

This report, written by Dr David Steiner, Executive Director of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy, argues that selecting and developing quality curriculum is a complex process that is too often ignored in policy and teacher preparation, leaving teachers across the United States under-prepared to perform these activities. It seeks to show why this situation is so damaging and what can be done to remedy it. It surveys the current landscape of content that is actually being taught in schools, and reviews how – if at all – teacher preparation programs approach the matter of content. Finally, it suggests what could be done better, and how, to support teachers’ curriculum literacy. While this report draws on American examples, many of its observations and their implications are relevant to other systems around the world.

Overcoming challenges facing contemporary curriculum

These case studies provide illustrations of curriculum reform in two very different school systems: Louisiana, where a process was introduced to review curriculum for quality and encourage its use in schools and British Columbia, which recently undertook a comprehensive renewal of its curriculum to better prepare students for the future. The research for these case studies was commissioned by the NSW Education Standards Authority. Any reproduction of this research is subject to being accompanied by this acknowledgement.

A new approach: Reforming teacher education

This report examines the perverse incentives that encourage cheap, quick, low-quality teaching programs and provides a reform framework to reverse these incentives and create a continuously improving system of teacher education.

Country note – Key findings from PISA 2015 for the United States (OECD 2016)

This country note, written by Ben Jensen and Katie Roberts-Hull in collaboration with Maie Kising, Viive Ruus & Dennis Shirley, sets out policies and practices for equity in the education in the United States.

Teaching our teachers: A better way

Between 2015 and 2017 Learning First partnered with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on a Global Community of Practice to help teacher education around the world prepare new teachers for the classroom. In addition to supporting system practice, this work informed four public discussion papers: Connecting teacher preparation and practice, Developing partnerships to improve teacher preparation, Using K-12 curriculum to improve teacher preparation & Continuous improvement in teacher education.

Ben Jensen’s Blog