In 2012 Cognition Education and Professor John Hattie developed Visible Learning Plus, a professional learning programme for educators. Based on the research of Melbourne University’s Professor John Hattie, the programme is the world’s largest evidence-based school reform model.

Brisbane Catholic Education (BCE) Office approached Cognition Education to support their efforts to improve outcomes for their students, and so engaged us to deliver the Visible Learning Plus Foundation Series. At the end of 2014 we also began to develop a group of coaches to work with schools to strengthen and develop Visible Learning practices and to ensure that they are aligned with the strategic direction of the organisation.

Our approach

Approximately 150 schools from the Brisbane Diocese have engaged in the Foundation Series since the initial work in March 2013. The critical part of the work was the inclusion of a tailored evaluation of the success of the programme; changes in student and teacher attitudes and mindframes and accelerating student outcomes.

School leadership teams in each year engaged in a Foundation Day led by Professor John Hattie, highlighting his research on what impacts most on student achievement. This was followed by Evidence into Action 1 day which provided tools for leadership teams to gather evidence in their own schools. Three months later, Evidence into Action 2 occurred with each school using their evidence to produce an action plan, with their own aspirations, focus areas, learning required and detailed plan for the next year.

Cognition Education has worked with the BCE to:

  • deliver all the three years of the Foundation Series
  • create a unique evaluation for each of the three years, including monitoring the success of the programme, changes in practice and student achievement
  • lead an impact day each year for schools to share their journey, including any highlights or issues, with other schools
  • support the strengthening of school and head office analysis of student outcomes using standardised tools
  • facilitate the understanding of different tools; the data to gather to inform professional learning and development needs; and the provision of that professional development
  • train and coach a new group of 20 staff to work in network clusters to support schools based on needs identified through the Visible Learning process and aligned to the strategic direction of the organisation.
  • provide a rigorous evaluation to support change in schools
  • provide each school with their analysed report data and a collated report of all the schools each year for head office.

A key component of our evaluation plan programme logic is the Kirkpatrick Model. This is supplemented by student and teacher surveys on mind frames and beliefs, as well as qualitative data, such as principal interviews.

We use NAPLAN data to analyze shifts in student outcomes and have supported the system in having PAT-R and PAT-M used at all levels. Data from all these sources is used to inform our final impact report.


The BCE have continued with the original program for three years and added additional Visible Learning components. The BCE found their schools have a common language now around learning, where previously there was none or very little. The senior staff have collated data about all schools to provide targeted support as required. All schools are in professional learning communities, based on their action plans.

For one school, the matrix has been key for identifying what was missing in the school and future required actions:

…it was the ‘slap in the face’ that we kind of needed… 

There are opportunities to have good honest conversations about how we have gone in the past of making change happen, how well it is embedded, let’s look at the gaps, is it part of our culture…this programme will require a whole school wide approach…insist that things happen differently in the classroom…ask ourselves, have we ever done this before…for many schools the answer will be no…so if we are going to make this happen, what is our structure, how are we going to share the knowledge, build teacher capacity…have that sort of reflection, put it on the table…

…[the programme] is giving us a language to a lot of things that I think we already all believed…just giving us a structure to make it a non-negotiable approach…

About Visible Learning Plus

Professor Hattie rose to prominence in the evidence-based school change movement with his meta-analyses of what works best for student achievement. The resulting Visible Learning research identifies 250 factors that influence student achievement based on a significant 1,400 meta-analyses of 90,000 individual research studies, involving more than 250 million students around the world. Cognition Education partnered with Hattie in 2012, to establish Visible Learning Plus and since licensed the programme via strategic partners around the world.  Through this global network, Cognition have delivered Visible Learning Plus in 20+ countries across America, Canada, Europe, The Middle East and Australasia. In 2018 Cognition Education sold Visible Learning Plus to Corwin.