Introducing new teaching and leadership Academy CEO

We speak to Marcia Devlin, CEO, Victorian Academy of Teaching and Leadership, to learn more about the new Academy

As we reported in the last edition of In Our Classrooms, globally-recognised education leader Dr Marcia Devlin has been appointed the Chief Executive Officer of the new Victorian Academy of Teaching and Leadership

This month, Marcia answers our questions about the Academy, her background and what drew her to the CEO position.

Can you please tell us a bit about the Academy?

The Academy builds on and incorporates the excellent work of Bastow over more than 10 years. It will also offer the Teaching Excellence Program – an Australian-first program of advanced professional learning for high-performing teachers in government, Catholic and independent schools.

While Bastow has operated as an arm of the department, the Academy will be an independent statutory authority with a board.

We'll be based in our own purpose-built facility in the Treasury precinct, as well as the current Bastow building in North Melbourne and academies in 7 regional communities. Each one of these will be a hub for collaborative in-person and virtual learning, educational and community activities. 

Tell us about yourself. What drew you to the position of academy CEO?

I started my education career as a primary school teacher before moving into the tertiary sector, where I stayed for almost 30 years.

My research and practice focused on teaching and learning, effective educational leadership, and equity – in particular, facilitating success for students from low socioeconomic status backgrounds and other equity groups.

I was drawn to the position for a few reasons, one being the opportunity to make a difference state-wide to the learning outcomes of students.

I was also attracted to the cross-sectoral aspect of the Teaching Excellence Program, the dual focus on excellence and equity, and the outstanding reputation of Bastow.

The opportunity to draw on my executive, board and governance experience to lead the start-up of a new statutory authority was also attractive.

Why is the Academy different from other training organisations such as Bastow and how will it benefit teachers?

The Academy will strengthen and extend the outstanding work Bastow is known for in the leadership space.

For the Teaching Excellence Program, each year, up to 500 already excellent teachers from the government, Catholic and independent sectors will have the opportunity – through a rigorous selection process – to join the Academy and deepen and extend their teaching expertise.

They will have access to the latest research, masterclasses, a deep individual inquiry and engagement with experts and a peer cohort of excellent teachers to further examine and enhance their teaching.

What are your early priorities for the Academy and why?

Our flagship programs – the Teaching Excellence Program and our career stage leadership programs – are the cornerstone of our professional learning, so it's really important we keep everything on track for continued provision for the rest of 2021 and a successful start to 2022.

Another priority is moving us into our beautiful new headquarters at 31 St Andrews Place and to connect with local communities as we establish our 7 regional locations.

I'd also like to focus on the importance of equity in excellence and to ensure that teachers and leaders who undertake Academy programs understand that.

You started your career as a teacher. Will you use that experience in this role? If so, how?

I have experienced the transformative power of teaching. My experience has taught me that the opportunity to teach is a privilege and that teachers can have profound effects on not only our students' learning but on their lives more broadly.

Many of us can think of a teacher who had a significant impact on our lives, whether through lighting a fire of passion about a subject area, 'seeing' us in a way no-one else had previously done, making us feel valued, or positively influencing our life trajectory in some way.

Some of us have had feedback from students about the positive impact we have had and there are few rewards sweeter than knowing you have had such influence.

I also think teaching and teachers are sometimes under-appreciated, especially given the profound impact they can have on people's lives.

That said, I think the experience many parents and carers have had in supervising home/remote learning has helped lift recognition of the significant challenges teachers face every day, and will contribute to an ongoing enhanced appreciation of our teachers.

What's your advice for teachers considering professional learning through the Academy?

Your work is important, and we want to support you in that work. We also want to contribute to appropriate recognition of the value and impact of your work.

If you are considering signing up for an Academy program, don't hesitate. We look forward to hearing from you.

Find out more

To learn more about the Victorian Academy of Teaching and Leadership, refer to: