Hunter Sports High School

This case study showcases how this school has embraced and embedded future-focused learning and teaching practice. Four key questions are addressed to demonstrate how they identified problems and constraints, overcome specific challenges and their learnings from this journey.

Location: Pacific Hwy, Gateshead

Level: Secondary School, Year 7 to Year 12

Enrolment: 741 students (partially selective)

What learning problem were you trying to solve?

Hunter Sports High School's Big Picture Academy launched in 2012. It evolved from the increasing levels of disengagement of some students in mainstream classes across the whole spectrum of learning ability. Research into alternate educational learning models found Big Picture education to be a unique and viable learning alternative for our students.

What were your constraints?

  • Getting staff buy in to try a very unique model of education.
  • Initially thought it would be difficult to get student and parent buy in but this proved to not be the case.
  • Needed to design a space that would allow for personalised learning.
  • Needed to seek out new style furniture and a space large enough in the school to transform into a Big Picture academy.

What did you do?

One teacher from each faculty was trained in Big Picture education. We targeted Year 8 as our initial focus group. All Year 8 students and parents were introduced to the Big Picture model through information sessions. An expression of interest form was created and students applied for a position in the academy. We established two Year 8 advisories with a total of 34 students with one advisor (teacher) on each group. We modified the timetable and created a space by knocking down a wall between two learning spaces and created an exhibition room with a smart board and projector. We purchased new furniture and set up a very unique learning space.

What have you learnt so far?

  • All evidence indicates significant improvement in attendance rates, with student attendance in each of our advisories approximately 15% higher than their mainstream cohort.
  • Students’ results in NAPLAN have continued to improve with Year 9 2014 results exceeding school, the department and state growth in every area with an improvement in writing and reading that was twice stage growth.
  • We have a waiting list in all our advisories and students are now seeking enrolment in our academy from other schools.
  • We now offer advisories in Years 8-11 and an HSC via a compacted curriculum blended learning model delivered by a connected classroom with the Big Picture School in Cooks Hill Newcastle.
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