What is brilliant teaching?

What is brilliant teaching?

It might be hard to exactly define brilliant teaching, but it’s very easy to spot.

In some of the best classrooms in the country, brilliant teaching underpins high-quality learning. It inspires the youngest, brightest minds and it sparks curiosity and embeds the concept of lifelong learning.

But what is the essence of quality teaching? How can brilliant teaching be defined and described?

For Haileybury CEO|Principal, Derek Scott, putting the key elements of brilliant teaching in to a short summary isn’t possible. However, it’s easy to recognise brilliant teaching in action when he sees it.

“The very phrase ‘brilliant’ teaching elevates teaching to go beyond more than ‘good’ teaching. However, what transforms good to brilliant is different for different people and it varies in different classrooms. That’s actually a plus because we don’t want all teachers and classrooms to be exactly the same,” Mr Scott said.

“However, I do think that one key characteristic of a brilliant teacher is curiosity. I interview every staff member at their final interview stage, and I always look for curiosity and intellect because when you have bright, intelligent children and young people in your classrooms, you want bright, curious intelligent teachers in front of them.”

As well as curiosity, Mr Scott highlights engagement, passion and the ability to build relationships as essential ingredients in the brilliant teaching mix.

Deputy Principal (Teaching & Learning) Anna Sever agreed that a number of factors combined to create brilliant teaching.

“In some ways, brilliant teaching is intangible. It is a culture of high expectations, hard work and collaboration underpinned by our philosophy that ‘every student matters every day’,” she said.


It’s a desire to always be better and to find the one percenters and marginal gains that will allow students to be successful. Always being restless, always asking why, and seeing the world through the lens of excellence make a teacher ‘brilliant’.


Since 2011, Haileybury has offered a bespoke coaching program to focus on continuous teaching improvement. Coaches are available at each campus to support teachers in professional areas ranging from time management and student feedback to questioning skills and instructional management.

The school has also created an innovative Brilliant Teaching series where teachers have access to world renowned experts and where lessons of Haileybury’s very best teachers are recorded and placed on a purpose-built Canvas course. Teaching insights are shared and discussed, and educators can observe their colleagues in the classroom and give and receive feedback.

“When you build a strong collaborative culture, you build a capacity for teachers to leverage off each other and to never accept they’ve reached the final point in their own development. We want our teachers to reflect that continual improvement that we seek from our students,” Mr Scott said.

When all these elements and concepts come together, students, teachers and school communities can enjoy the many benefits that brilliant teaching delivers. •

For more information: haileybury.com.au

John Buncle

John Buncle

February 14th, 2024 - Felicity Jack
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