Macquarie Fields 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: 2 Harold St, Macquarie Fields
Level: Secondary School, Year 7 to Year 12
Enrolment: 1,102 students (72% of students from language backgrounds other than English)
What learning problem were you trying to solve?
At Macquarie Fields High School, we decided to implement more formative assessment practices across the school and support this through the implementation of the Self-Organised Learning Environments (SOLEs) project. We also wanted a special place for Support students which was shared and provided an open learning space to engage students. An important priority was student voice and collaboration from all three sections of our unique student body; selective, comprehensive and students in support classes. With small classrooms and a growing student population, we needed to re-develop the spaces and make them learning environments supportive of contemporary pedagogies which were adaptable, technology friendly and, most importantly, designed by the students themselves to meet their learning needs.
What were your constraints?
Money, time and space.
The most significant barrier to realising our vision was the very small size of our classrooms. The school was built during the era of decreasing class sizes and, consequently, they do not lend themselves to the changing requirements of a modern school.
What did you do?
We established a team of teachers and students who collaborated with a local furniture company. The team approached the company who sent out consultants to provide advice on the project. They also invited the students to their design centre and factory, to see the design and layouts which were possible. Students were able to have direct input into the design and layout of their classroom and the choice of furniture. The Principal supplied a small budget which was supplemented by faculty funds. Savings were made in faculty budgets which were used to purchase additional materials for new learning spaces. We were also able to receive some sample furniture and discounted furniture from the local company at reduced costs. This process has been documented as a DoE Filmpond entitled '21st Century Learning Spaces @ Macquarie Fields High School'.
What have you learnt so far?
Students want to have a say in their learning spaces and are happy to work collaboratively with not only their teachers but also other adults, such as the representatives from the furniture factory. Local companies are open to work with schools and changing things excites students, staff and the wider community. Other teachers are keen to engage in change practices. The pedagogy needs to be established, developed and embedded. Formative assessment practices and cooperative learning opportunities are much more likely to happen when the learning space is easily adaptable, technology friendly and purpose built.