Made up of 14 public schools within the city of Cockburn, the CCEN was formed in 2013 out of a voluntary initiative put forward by the education department.
According to David Lee, principal of Atwell Primary School, the network follows a distributed leadership approach, where collaboration, trust and shared responsibility are key.
“The distributed leadership is actually based on real and authentic processes, so it’s not forced,” Lee says.
“It’s actually designed so each person knows what their role is.
“So you’ve got principals [with] a strategic plan of what we’re trying to do in the network against our purpose statements, and then you’ve got deputies that take some of those key elements develop their own operational plans to help further that general strategic direction.
And then underneath that you’ve got your network curriculum leaders, working on action plans or their own operational plans,” he explains.
Atwell says by building up people within the network, rather than bringing educational experts in from the outside, expertise becomes “captured” within the CCEN.
“So the benefit comes, from the reality, the authenticity of the process.
“You’re not forcing any professional learning, it’s by teachers, for teachers. “And you get that lift. We all know that if you can get teachers working from collaboration through to co-responsibility, you’ve got to win.”
With a layered approach to leadership, Lee says the CCEN has also had a multi-layered impact over the years it has been running.
For principals, establishing a culture of trust, respect and collaboration has been an important achievement which has required patience and humility.
“So there’s some real honesty about, ‘look this is what my school’s doing’, when we do an analysis of our own NAPLAN, it’s an in-depth analysis as a group of principals,” Lee says.
“So you need a certain level of trust to be able to do that, and not play … ‘look at me’ games.
“That’s been eliminated because we all just see it as we see it. So that’s been really important to us.”
Lee says deputy principals across the various schools have been empowered through the CCEN’s deputies council, which has played a role in key areas of observation and feedback, student services, curriculum implementation and ICT.
“And for teachers, we ran some common school development days, where we got all our teachers together, so that their knowledge of the curriculum was built.
“And as that knowledge of the curriculum was built, what we then started to do was to introduce assessment moderation and common understandings of what standards look like. And that’s still ongoing work,” Lee says.
The CCEN has a number of big projects on the go, one being establishing a transition point between Year 6 and 7, making sure teachers of these year levels are on the same page.
“Because what we want them to do, is use the same language and have the same understanding of the learning area and the assessment,” Lee says.
“Particularly when you’re trying to improve the Year 7 NAPLAN result, which is in turn setting up Year 9 NAPLAN ... it’s always been difficult to get that combination between primary and secondary right, but I think we’re on the right track.”
Another area where schools are working on a common approach, is gifted education.
“So we’ve got a program where all the children that qualify for primary academic extension … the top 2 per cent of kids, what we do is run some programs through our high schools, but bringing all the kids together from our network.
“So we’re a trial network for a different model of coaching for those students,” Lee says.
“We also run extension programs for the top 10 or 15 per cent of kids, you know, the As and the B+s, those kinds of kids, and we run that in conjunction with the high school … which is part of connecting those kids to our local high schools.
“So we’ve got a bit on,” he adds.
“It’s important that you’ve got really good people that want to do those things as opposed to being made to do those things.”