Targeted Teaching: how to close the gap between theory, policy and practice

A huge spread of achievement in the typical Australian classroom makes it hard for teachers to target their teaching to the needs of every individual student. Our most advanced students are not adequately stretched while our least advanced are not properly supported, despite heroic efforts by many teachers and principals.

Students learn best when they are taught material that is targeted to what each individual is ready to learn next, rather than the standard year level material that may well be too easy or too hard. We have known this for decades. It is part of our national professional standards, and our expectations of schools. Yet it is easier said than done.

Grattan Institute’s latest school education report, Targeted teaching: how better use of data can improve student learning, explores the gap between the theory, policy and practice of targeted teaching.

Dr Peter Goss, Grattan Institute School Education Program Director, hosted a panel of senior leaders in school education to explore:

  • What is targeted teaching? Why is it worth doing?
  • What does it look like in practice, and what is the role of data?
  • What are the current policy settings around targeted teaching, and what are the barriers to broader implementation?
  • How do we embed targeted teaching in every classroom? What is the role of governments and education systems, schools and teachers, and parents?


Margery Evans is the CEO of the Australian Institute of Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL).  Margery has spent her career in education.  She has held positions as teacher, school principal and senior system leader in Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia before coming to AITSL as inaugural CEO in July 2010.  Under Margery’s leadership AITSL has successfully introduced a range of national reforms. These initiatives have made an important contribution to the improvement of teacher and school leader quality in Australia.

Simon Kent is Deputy Secretary of the Victorian Department of Education and Training, with responsibility for the Strategy and Review Group. He joined the Department in April 2013 from the Department of Premier and Cabinet where he was the Director, Social Policy Branch. Simon has extensive experience of policymaking across the education, human services, health and justice portfolios.

Coralee Pratt is Principal of Camberwell South Primary School and a Fellow of the Australian Council of Education Leaders. She has also led one of Queensland’s largest primary schools; supported school improvement for 248 Victorian government schools as an Assistant Regional Director; and spoken and written on school improvement, leadership development and women in leadership. At Camberwell South, Coralee is putting into practice her vision of excellence in teaching to support a personalised approach to learning.

Pete Goss is the School Education Program Director at Grattan. He has over 10 years’ experience as a strategy consultant, most recently with the Boston Consulting Group, advising Federal and State governments on service delivery innovation. His first Grattan report, Targeted teaching: how better use of data can improve student learning, was released on 26 July 2015.