Happy Steve

Innovation and Learning

Start with clarity of intent.

Now build it out with an evocative vision. Improvise progress by tinkering: with lots of trial and lots of error. The not knowing is the best bit: the mysteries the surprises, and from time to time the windfalls! 

Hello there, I'm Steve Collis! 

Click on "contact", won't you, and wave right back at me?

Short 3rd Person Bio

Stephen Collis, Director of Innovation, Sydney Centre for Innovation in Learning

Steve Collis is Director of Innovation at Sydney Centre for Innovation in Learning (SCIL), an innovation unit embedded in Northern Beaches Christian School in Sydney (NBCS). With the SCIL team, Steve has travelled the world seeking out examples of exemplary learning innovation. The best ideas are tested, embedded, and scaled at NBCS and then offered to educators worldwide through immersion experiences and design programs.


Steve facilitates innovation at schools around Australia and beyond. He helps colleagues re-envision virtual and physical spaces to facilitate personalised, purposeful learning and increased student engagement and agency. Steve also works with leadership teams to create strategies that promote a culture of innovation and perpetual transformation. He believes relationship, collaboration, and relevance lie be at the heart of great learning.


Steve has been awarded ‘Excellence by a Teacher’ (National Quality Schools Awards) and ‘Microsoft Innovative Teacher of the Year’. Follow Steve on Twitter @Steve_Collis.

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1st Person Bio

After a BA/Dip Ed, French/English, I taught in Paris for a year.

I returned and married the illustrious Rachel Collis, although that was not her surname at the time.

I've taught at Northern Beaches Christian School since 2002. The school launched the Sydney Centre for Innovation in Learning (SCIL) in 2005, which promotes grassroots innovation within our school.


I taught English and French. I launched and grew 'Beyond Borders' to create online communities of students and their teachers from different schools around the world. This grew rapidly to some thousands of participants. In 2006 I was Microsoft Innovative Teacher of the Year for NSW, and in 2007 awarded 'Excellence by a Teacher' in the National Quality Schooling Awards.

I joined the senior leadership of the school in 2008, promoting innovation, mentoring colleagues, and intensifying my engagement with other educators through online spaces, conferences, and formal PD. I also lead the Languages faculty. In the early days I paid particular attention to 3D Virtual Worlds, and student publishing, learning lessons along the way that remain crucial to how I understand learning communities and learning environments. I've been fortunate to visit learning spaces in Europe, the USA and Canada. Each one is a different story, but themes recur.

My engagement with other schools has shifted to a new level since 2010 and I now spend the majority of my time hosting teams onsite at NBCS, consulting, facilitating, and presenting. My work is becoming more and more about helping schools move forward in their own idiosyncratic contexts. I'm also working with colleagues to develop project-based PD experiences for teachers.

There is no simple recipe for great learning, but some elements are universal: front and center, relationships between learners and teachers. Next, the invisible stuff of 'learning culture', which grows or dies over years. Relationships and culture are profoundly shaped by space, physical and virtual.

I propose a structural approach to differentiation and personalisation, positioning kids as free-range learners rather than battery-hens. Firmly supported in a community-of-practice, and guided by on-the-shoulder experts, young people can self-direct, problem-solve, get creative, and develop an unstoppable love of learning.