Rethinking learning communities for a changing world


The ANSN is a not-for-profit national network of teachers, researchers, schools, systems, sectors, unions, universities, community and business partners. It has a focus on rethinking schools and redesigning learning communities for a changing world.

It has the following objectives:

  1. To support schools, communities and systems that are seeking to review, rethink and redesign their work over time.
  2. To connect with teachers nationally as they explore and research new ideas and reflect on and reform their practices in order to support more effective learning.
  3. To learn from our work and publish and disseminate findings from our research and practice.
  4. To provide professional learning opportunities for those interested in learning about the ideas and practices that emerge from our work.

At its heart the ANSN is working towards a more socially just world in which the learning needs of all children will be met in safe and equitable learning environments. It has a particular social justice focus on supporting schools that serve our most disadvantaged communities.

The ANSN supports the central role of the teacher in making a difference to student learning. It privileges ideas that are of interest and importance to teachers. It acknowledges and respects the voice of the teacher. It encourages the role of teacher as researcher in the classroom and the school.

The ANSN acknowledges the role of parents and care givers in the education of young people. It recognizes the importance of establishing partnerships with them, local community organizations and employers.

The ANSN acknowledges the important contribution of education systems and educational researchers to pedagogical knowledge and aims to identify and bring to the attention of teachers new thinking about learning, teaching, and school reform.

Advocacy Role for the ANSN

The ANSN has a long history of participation in educational reform. As a dynamic learning organization, we are continually seeking ideas and identifying concerns expressed by teachers, principals, and educational leaders at all levels of the educational system across Australia, in both urban and regional areas. We have learned much about the contexts and conditions required to sustain a passion for learning and promote student achievement.

Should the ANSN choose to engage in advocacy on systematic issues, the key areas could include:

  1. The need to ensure that the resources available for disadvantaged schools are appropriately matched to the needs of those schools.
  2. A recognition of the complexity and power of external factors that impinge on student learning, and the need for external agents (parents, employers, community) to work with schools, supporting a joint commitment to student learning.
  3. The need for continuing reforms to curriculum, pedagogy, supported by continuing professional development of teachers, in order to ensure that Australia’s schools serve all students well. All students are entitled to an education that is engaging and develops their capacity to access powerful knowledge across the major fields of human endeavour.

Key questions for all in the ANSN

  1. How would we know a class, a school and a system is working well and in a socially just way?
  2. What kinds of schools make a difference to their communities?
  3. What accountability systems can we develop that are valid and reliable and that we all can accept and respect?
  4. What are we learning about learning? Including what are we learning about student learning, teacher learning, school learning, and system learning?
  5. What do we know (in a digital age) about how educators are learning and working together in a constructive and positive way?
  6. What kinds of collaborations and partnerships are needed to do this work?

The ANSN Ways of Working

Developing systems of influence

  1. Networks: It begins with teachers (and others) finding each other around a common interest or problem. At this point people network for their own benefit and to develop their own work. There is fluid membership and people can and do move in and out.
  2. Communities of Practice: The groups can start to self organise. The AANSN research circles (hubs) facilitate the development of communities of practice. People share what they know and do this to support one another. They intentionally create new knowledge for their field of practice. People make a commitment to one another, they participate to serve the needs of others not just themselves and the focus extends beyond the group. The ANSN makes resources and knowledge known to others.
  3. Networks of Communities of Practice. The ANSN facilitates different communities of practice helping them make connections with one another across state boundaries, across phases of schooling, between school and the community, between educators, systems of education and the public. 
  4. Emergent Systems of Influence: Change happens whereby efforts on the periphery suddenly become the norm. Members of the ANSN become leaders of the ANSN.

The ANSN does this by taking the following steps…

  1. Name. Recognising the pioneers of the work and their contribution to education, their work is brought to the attention of others and where there is interest we support the sharing of that work.
  2. Connect. People…design and facilitate gatherings…host networks where people can exchange ideas and resources…use technology…co-create products.
  3. Nourish. The ANSN provides ideas, mentors, processes, technology, and money. Learning and knowledge are the two key resources. The ANSN shares processes that work well and helps groups learn from experiences as people do the work. It puts the leaders of different networks and Communities of Practice together.
  4. Illuminate. The ANSN publishes articles, it tells stories, it hosts conferences, it visits sites of learning and develops relationships.