Dean's Report


Welcome to the Melbourne Graduate School of Education’s (MGSE) 2019 Annual Review, a digital publication which provides a snapshot of some of the highlights of the past year. It was a year where we continued to implement our Strategic Plan 2018 -2021 and kept our focus firmly on educating a new generation of expert teachers, building our research capacity and establishing new programs and systems to renew our workforce.

Over the past 12 months we implemented fundamental reforms and a range of initiatives which are driving our high performance and ambitions. Integral to this was the appointment of our new Executive Director Keryn Negri, who came to us from her role as CEO at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) and who is admirably assisting us in leading the transformation of the Graduate School across a range of key future-focused projects.

Generational change and renewal are essential in all organisations and in 2019 we actively developed a plan to make senior leadership professorial appointments for 2020. We were also fortunate during 2019 to welcome Professor William Locke who joined us from University College London to become the Director of the Centre for The Study of Higher Education and Professor Nicola Yelland who joined us from Flinders University to become Professor of Early Childhood Studies.

In order to facilitate greater collegiality, and the sharing of expertise between MGSE staff, we instigated a new series of internal staff forums and channels. We started the year with our inaugural Setting the Scene Day which brought all staff together to focus on our priorities for the year. We also began a series of Staff Dialogue sessions, and a forum called MGSE Talks, providing staff with the opportunity to learn more about each other’s work and to hear about the horizon of projects occurring at MGSE. Other important initiatives included an inaugural academic mentor program, a review of academic workload and the implementation of stage one of a new teaching workload model. A new organisational structure of Cognate Groups for academics was established and a functional review of professional staff was undertaken to ensure the skills we require to fulfill our strategic goals were in place. We also moved most of our academic staff into our building at 100 Leicester Street as part of a refurbishment program.

A major achievement of 2019 was the publication of our MGSE Divisional Indigenous Development Plan, which was led by Professor Elizabeth McKinley and outlines MGSE’s commitments to using our resources of research, teaching and learning to strengthen and deepen mutually supportive relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous Australians. I was also honoured to attend the Garma festival, in the Northern Territory, for the first time alongside the Vice-Chancellor Duncan Maskell, Associate Provost Marcia Langton, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Indigenous, Shaun Ewen and 30 other University staff.

Our focus on building MGSE’s research leadership and capability also saw us undertake a comprehensive review of the function and operations of our Melbourne Education Research Institute (MERI), in order to improve our growth in research quality, output, income and impact. We also established a new research hub, the Research in Effective Education in Early Childhood (REEaCH), with Associate Professor Patricia Eadie as its inaugural Director. Funded through the amazing generosity of the Leaper family, REEaCH was launched with a lecture and summit that brought together key Australian early childhood education advocates, providers, researchers and policymakers to discuss priorities for the sector over the next decade.

We were delighted with MGSE’s success in the latest Excellence in Research Australia (ERA) report which resulted in the achievement of the highest ranking of well above standard. We are the only university to have scored 5 on curriculum and pedagogy with no university scoring higher than 4 on Education Systems. This is a testament to the skill, talent and sheer hard work of MGSE’s staff as is the awarding of an ARC grants to Dr Mary Leahy and her team and to Professor Julie McLeod and Dr Jessica Gerrard.

Our transformative teaching and learning program continued to evolve in 2019 with the introduction of a new Graduate Diploma in Early Childhood and a revamped Master of Teaching internship program. In order to move towards more flexible options for our students, we also introduced a part-time Master of Teaching. Importantly, work began on the review and reaccreditation of our Master of Teaching which will ensure we keep our courses relevant, innovative and producing the highest standard of teachers, who are ready for the challenges and rewards of a career in teaching. Our University of Melbourne Network of Schools moved to a new home with the Assessment Research Centre under the guidance of Professor Sandra Milligan and we undertook a review of our engagement with partner schools and early childhood settings.

During the winter we held another successful MGSE Awards evening where 122 students were acknowledged for their achievements along with more than 20 staff awards being presented. Honorary Enterprise Professor Maxine McKew was our excellent master of Ceremonies and the evening concluded with the MGSE Distinguished Research Award being awarded to Professor David Clarke whose brief but inspiring speech was followed by a standing ovation, demonstrating what a respected and beloved colleague he was to many.

Engagement is central to the work we do at MGSE and our suite of offerings in 2019 included the launch of a new publication series, the MGSE Industry Reports with the first report, Those Who Disappear: The Australian Educational Problem nobody wants to talk about, garnering widespread interest across Australia. Our Dean’s lectures series continued to attract excellent audiences who were engaged and stimulated by a wide range of topics. The lectures included Professor Megan Davis’ discussion of the development of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, the Hon. Barry Jones’ outline of what he sees as a worldwide existential crisis for democracy and the return of racism as an issue in Australia, Professor Joe Lo Bianco informed us about civil conflict and social opportunity while the Hon. Ged Kearney spoke on the pertinent topic of the role of government in the anxious century. The audience for our podcast Talking Teaching grew to 40,000 listens across the year which showed yet again the widespread and continued interest in education.

All in all, 2019 was a productive and successful year for MGSE as we worked collaboratively to implement our six core strategies which are setting the foundation for a new chapter in the Melbourne Graduate School of Education’s illustrious history. None of this, however, could be achieved without our passionate, innovative and committed staff. It has been a pleasure to steer MGSE through the challenges and rewards of reinvention and I’m looking forward to more of this inspiring work in 2020.


Professor Jim Watterston

Dean, Melbourne Graduate School of Education