Posted in News on Nov 18, 2019
A number of announcements were made at this year’s Vision Showcase including strategic priorities for the coming year.
In response to our Schools growth, we had set sustainability as a strategic priority. We do not want to grow at a pace or to a size that is detrimental to what makes our School special. We also want family commitments to the School to be sustainable. Following on from the roll out of FACTS, having “all inclusive” fees and the region’s most generous sibling discounts, next year we will be “smoothing out” fees as you transition from Primary to High School, this includes some small fee reductions in the higher years. We do run on very tight budgetary constraints, so we are constantly looking for ways to stretch our dollars further.
Hence another strategic priority is to invite parents and alumni to contribute their skills, their knowledge as volunteers, strategic partners and sponsors.
Improved usage and presentation of spaces is another key strategic priority and we have already sought and been awarded a grant from the Federal Government to update our entry ways, install extra security, digitalise our emergency systems amongst other things that you will see around the grounds.
Increased Digital Access
Based on parent feedback, we are accelerating the issuing of digital devices to include additional year groups sooner so that in 2020, Years 3 and 4 students will have 1-to-1 access to a device at School and every student Years 5 to 11 will have the same school digital learning device issued to them for consistency and ease.
Language of Learning
To support flexible learning, we are introducing our language of learning. This is a common and universal language to be used every day and in every way. These are action words to prompt us to learn in any environment, whether that be in Pre-Kinder, in Year 12, in staff meetings, in Maths, in English or on camp.
Schools have crowded their curriculum with lots of content and skills but have left no time to teach kids HOW to learn. Our language of learning is intended to prompt students to act in ways that enhance learning.
Schools invest great energy in welfare and academics but leave little to invest in growing student capacity and character. Our language of learning is also intended to prompt students to act in ways that enhance personal growth.
We have drawn our language of learning from our School values because there is a deep link between learning and growth.
Hand-in-hand with our language of learning is the launch of our Invictus Program in Secondary and Senior Secondary. This is a supercharged upgrade to our Support Groups where students will be explicitly taught how to learn, how to stay positive, how to set goals and how to find God’s calling on their life. It draws upon school-based research in Positive Psychology, Strengths Based Learning and the correlation between emotional intelligence, resilience, wellbeing and academic success.
Expanded and Future Focussed Electives
We have been exploring ways to give our students more options, more subjects and more combinations than even the largest schools whilst not sacrificing the importance of relationships & personal care.
We’re drawing upon some under-utilised flexibility in NESA requirements and timetabling that will allow us to add more and greater variety of electives in Years 9 and 10.
Furthermore, we are moving beyond the traditional subject offerings of schools to tailor new elective courses around our students needs and interests. We plan to offer courses as varied as coding, psychology, self-paced language learning, entrepreneurship, 3D design and urban art. While this will be a unique approach in the Hunter, we won’t be doing this alone, as we will be joining a growing movement known as the Future Schools Alliance.
Senior Secondary Learning Hub
Our Senior Secondary students are young adults, not teens, they work, pay taxes, drive and are already planning and saving for tertiary study and overseas trips. They require an age appropriate adult learning environment.
We have successfully trialled some structures that break away from the traditional timetable restrictions
Next year we are commencing the development of a Senior Learning Hub that is a unique learning space, not quite a classroom or a study room or a workplace office but a blend of each where each student has a personalised work area with bookable meeting spaces and resources at hand. The Senior Learning Hub will allow us to develop over the next few years a hybrid learning model that incorporates 1-to-1 coaching, small tutorial study group intensives and individualised learning activities outside of a fixed timetable. Most exciting of all, with the aide of an adult learning structure we can free ourselves from timetable clashes and class size restrictions so that we can offer more courses and more support that the largest schools in the region.
I trust that as you have read this article, you have seen how our vision for a uniquely personalised, flexible, practical and caring approach to education has shaped our initiatives. We explored what is meant by “flexible education” at the Vision Showcase and a summary will feature in the next blog article.