The politics of collaborative expertise

John Hattie outlines eight steps to achieve long-term, system-wide attention on student learning. He calls it a model of collaborative expertise.

Read online – Pearson (PDF)

His model is designed to address the effect of in-school variation on learning and its main cause: variability in the effectiveness of teachers.

It has eight tasks:

  1. Shift the narrative to collaborative expertise and student progression
  2. Agree what a year’s progress looks like
  3. Expect a year’s worth of progress
  4. Develop new assessment and evaluation tools
  5. Know thy impact!
  6. Ensure teachers have expertise in diagnosis, interventions and evaluation
  7. Stop ignoring what we know and scale up success
  8. Link autonomy to a year’s progress

Hattie argues that we can’t make an overall difference to student achievement by working one teacher at a time. Instead everyone needs to work collectively – teachers, leaders, other adults in schools, parents, students, and policy-makers – using the expertise that exists in each school, across schools and throughout the system.

He also argues that we all need to look at our impact through student progress, not simply achievement. He proposes that we frame the idea of progress as ‘every child deserves at least a year’s growth for a year’s input’.

He suggests that developing a common understanding of what progress looks like is the key to accelerating progress, and re-emphasises research that the expectations of students and teachers are the greatest influence on learning.

The implications section of the paper sums up the attitudes and actions needed from teachers, school leaders and system leaders.

Reflective questions

  • What does your school leadership team do, or what can it do, to enable teachers to work together collaboratively to question their effectiveness? Can you lead discussions with your teachers on this? Do you need to access expertise to help?
  • What tools and processes is your school using to develop a shared understanding of a year’s progress? Where is this developing well? Where are the gaps?


Hattie, J. (2015) What Works Best in Education: The Politics of Collaborative Expertise, London: Open Ideas at Pearson. Pearson. 

Further reading

Donohoo, J. Hattie, J. Eells, R. (2019.) The power of collective efficacy. Educational Leadership, vol 75, no. 6, 40-45.

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