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Vision Showcase – Understanding Flexible Education

Posted in News on Nov 22, 2019

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The phrase “flexible”, when applied to schooling, has got people talking, but it’s also a puzzle as people try to get their head around what we mean by "flexible education".

In some educational contexts, “flexibility” has come to refer to alternate pathways for those High School students who are disengaged with schooling and don’t fit into the standard educational box. At Hunter Christian School, we take a different view, namely that no child of any age can be “boxed” and that learning outside of a box not only opens vocational opportunities, but also enriches academic, creative, leadership, spiritual, service and performance development.

As a School Community, we believe each of us has been created as unique individuals, with diverse gifts and personal callings. But this has left us with some questions about how schools at large traditionally function.

We are challenging the typical constraints schools face to allow us to tailor learning to individual needs. We are challenging restrictions imposed by class sizes and timetables to individualise patterns of study. We seek to partner and plan each child's learning goals with families.

One way to understand our philosophy of flexible education is to see it expressed in how we teach, customise learning, offer choices and establish learning independence.

How we teach: Universal Design for Learning

Traditionally, education plans for the “average” student and then adjusts for the “outliers”. We intentionally design learning opportunities to cater for a diversity of student abilities, learning processes and interests. Based on the research-based model of Universal Design for Learning, our educational programming involves engaging students, communicating concepts and assessing learning in a variety of ways to cater for a variety of needs, interests and abilities.

How we customise learning: Customised Education Packaging

At Hunter Christian School we understand that every child is unique and thaat traditional schooling arrangements don’t suit every child. This is particularly true for elite athletes, accelerated students, emerging semi-professional performers and students with chronic illness. This is why we offer customisable learning delivery options for students in Years 5-12. A Customised Education Facilitator works with families to tailor course offerings, content delivery, attendance requirements, tailored support and assessment schedules. Students will have a Personal Education Plan based on a Hybrid Learning Model, which has three key components; personal connection, experiential development and online resourcing.

How we offer choice: Engaging future focused electives

We have been exploring ways to give our students more options, more subjects and more combinations than even the largest schools offer, whilst not sacrificing the importance of relationships & personal care.

From 2020, we’re drawing upon some under-utilised flexibility in NESA requirements and timetabling that will allow us to add a 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.

How we establish learning independence: Age appropriate adult learning models

How our students finish School is as important as how they start. As students progress through School, they need to develop increasing levels of independence and flexibility that will enable them to succeed in the adult world beyond School.

Our Senior Secondary students are young adults, not teens; they can work, pay taxes, drive and are already planning and saving for tertiary study and overseas trips. They require an age-appropriate adult learning environment.

From 2020, 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 these, 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 aid of an adult learning structure, we can free students from timetable clashes and class size restrictions so that more courses and more support are available without sacrificing the personal care and the learning environment that students need.

Learning to learn in any environment: our language of learning

Our language of learning is designed to support flexible Education. It 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 gardening, revising in Year 12, problem solving in STEM, on work placement, undertaking an active research project, analysing literature or developing outdoor skills on camp.

Our language of learning is intended to prompt students to act in ways that enhance learning and personal growth. The language is drawn from our School values because there is a deep link between learning and growth.

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We look forward to partnering with you on this exciting learning journey in the years ahead.

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