Established in 2014, the University of Melbourne Network of Schools (UMNOS) engages over 100 schools across Australia in a collaboration with the University to encourage innovation in education. Ms Katherine Henderson founded UMNOS with the intention to develop positive social, academic and economic trajectories for schools and their students.
UMNOS is a dynamic partnership between the University and Australian schools that aims to address some of the biggest challenges faced by the education sector. Katherine Henderson, recipient of the 2018 Excellence in Engagement – Public Value Award for her work with the program, believes the network is unique within the education industry.
By sharing the University’s research findings with school leaders and teachers, UMNOS encourages the adoption of evidence-based practices within the teaching profession. With the support of the network, each participating school agrees to implement professional approaches to teaching and learning, such as the evaluation of all school-based implementations and outcomes. In an era of accountability, Ms Henderson believes that data is driving change, with evidence allowing the education industry to evaluate the impact of teachers and teaching styles on student achievement.
The program enables the University to implement research conducted on campus in an industry setting; ensuring findings can be tested and refined in practice. Participating schools have direct access to ‘professional teaching seminars, researchers and leading education theorists from the Melbourne Graduate School of Education and other University of Melbourne academic divisions’. The University’s engagement with the network has resulted in significant changes across each school, with ‘improved student outcomes in literacy and numeracy and better NAPLAN results’.
According to Ms Henderson, the education sector is a “contested space”, with the important decisions being made by experts from outside the teaching profession.
This [engagement] award, in recognising UMNOS, encourages policy [makers] to properly value the relationship of practitioners with researchers in education and to design policy informed by research and evidence. Ms Henderson
Response to the program has been positive and demand to join the network is growing. The next phase of the program, UMNOS 2019, will include online components, which will allow the network to be extended to more schools.