They say it takes a village to raise a child and Campbelltown Performing Arts High School is putting that theory to the test.
Its latest intake of Year 7 students is no longer being placed into up to 10 traditional classes, instead they are forming “villages” of approximately 60 students, each supported by three teachers, to better support their learning and transition to high school.
Students undertake learning in a newly developed integrated model in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) and Humanities (English, history, geography and PDHPE). Within each village, students move into “tribes” of approximately 20 students for a more personalised approach to learning.
These tribes are then refined into four-student “crews” that work together on student-led projects that address a real-world problem for an authentic audience.
Campbelltown Performing Arts High School principal Stacey Quince said allowing students to apply their knowledge to real-world problems increased their engagement in learning.
It also helped them develop the skills and knowledge they needed to be successful at and beyond school.
“Through these projects the students learn they can make a real difference to their local and global community,” she said.
Another important focus in the new approach was its strong social support.
Ms Quince said students had daily meetings with a Learning Advisor who supported their wellbeing, helped them set personalised learning goals and guided them to prepare for student-led conferences where they discussed their learning with parents and carers.
She said the future-focused model had been developed after extensive research and testing, and in consultation with the school community.
“The new model is about preparing students to be 21st century learners and helping students to be excited about learning,” she said.
Students were supported to explicitly develop the skills they needed for success in the future including collaboration, critical thinking, communication and creativity.
Ms Quince said the transition to high school had been very positive for students, with early student surveys indicating they felt excited and challenged by their learning.
She said the model would be extensively evaluated this year, with the support of a university partner, and expanded next year if the evidence showed it supported continued improvement in student engagement and learning.