Education and Social Work Dean’s Lecture Series

The Education and Social Work Dean’s Lecture Series provides an opportunity to hear internationally renowned experts as they contribute to the debates and discussions in education, social work and social policy. The lectures are free and open to the public.

Listen to podcasts of the 2016 program here.


8 June - How can schools be relevant in the 21st century? A panel discussion about transforming schools

How can schools be relevant in the 21st century image

Schools are facing a potential crisis of relevance. Transformation is no longer an option in teaching and learning - it has become a necessity. Profound changes in the way we work and the challenges of issues such as climate change, poverty, migration and global competitiveness, mean that teaching and learning need to change dramatically to incorporate capacities that will help young people to meet these challenges in life and work.

Yet in a society which is rapidly changing we still see a school system that has structures, approaches and practices from the 19th century that are rapidly becoming irrelevant to the young people they serve.

The challenges that face schools are not simple but there are local, national and international models that may provide some pathways to changing school learning and teaching practices, leadership and governance.

This panel will consider how schools and schooling can benefit from new models and approaches to learning. They will draw on international experience, emergent models (such as the 4Cs) and discuss the role of technology in enabling and potentially impeding learning.

The multiple perspectives of the panel reflect different approaches to school change. They include perspectives from school systems, school leadership, teacher education, schools change consultants and international education leaders.


  • Dr Michael Anderson is Professor of Education in the Sydney School of Education and Social Work at University of Sydney and Academic Lead, Interdisciplinarity in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. His research and teaching interests include school transformation, creativity and technology. Michael presents and consults nationally and internationally to schools, schooling systems and other groups on transformation, creativity and learning.
  • Mrs Robyn Evans is a proud leader, teacher and learner and currently the proud principal of Casula Public School in South West Sydney. As a passionate leader of schools her core business is to ensure every student has access to the richest of learning to enable individuals to achieve their personal best academically, socially, psychologically and emotionally. Robyn is currently the Deputy President of the New South Wales Primary Principals Association representing some 1800 principals across New South Wales working in collaboration with senior Departmental Executive, Associations and personnel.
  • Dr Miranda Jefferson is Teaching Educator with the Catholic Education Office Parramatta, She is co-founder and innovative practice leader of 4C Transformative Learning and has been involved in leading innovation in schools for over 20 years. She leads programs, initiatives and research in curriculum reform, educational change and school transformation in several schools.
  • Mr Greg Whitby is the Executive Director of Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta. He has been involved in education in both government and non-government sectors for over 40 years as a teacher and school leader. Greg is recognised internationally as a thought leader, educational commentator and author, and is a regular presenter at global education conferences. He is experienced educator who is focused on transforming schools, bringing together the best of theory, practice and evidence to ensure they provide a relevant, challenging and engaging contemporary learning experience for the communities they serve.
  • Dr Phil Lambert PSM (panel chair) has extensive experience in education as Assistant Director-General, Regional Director, Sydney and General Manager, Australian Curriculum where he recently led the development of Australia’s first national curriculum. He has authored books, presented keynotes at national and international conferences and a number of articles published. He is Adjunct Professor at the University of Sydney and Nanjing Normal University, President of the NSW Australian College of Educators, and Director of Phil Lambert Consulting.


Transforming Schools cover

The panel discussion will be followed by the official launch of Transforming Schools: Creativity, Critical Reflection, Communication, Collaboration by Dr Miranda Jefferson and Michael Anderson.

Past Events

Tuesday 4 April - Addressing the Social and Behavioural Needs of All Students

Professor George Sugai (Center for Behavioral Education and Research Neag School of Education, University of Connecticut) is a world leader in positive behaviour support (PBS), a behaviour management system used to understand what maintains an individual's challenging behaviour, and establishing goals for change. For this presentation he outlines how PBS is just one part of prevention-based multi-tiered systems approach that can be used to support the academic and social behavioural goals of schools.

The emphasis is on school-wide approaches that are linked to classroom behaviour management. Topics include school climate, school discipline, primary prevention, social skills instruction, classroom behaviour management, and cultural diversity. Implications will be related general and special education, school leadership, in-service and pre-service educator preparation.

Book Launch
George Sugai's presentation was followed by the launch of Supporting Social Inclusion for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders by Dr Cathy Little, lecturer in Special Education, in the Sydney School of Education and Social Work.