Passion project Newcastle
Location: Park Way Ave, Hamilton
Level: Secondary School, Year 7 to Year 12
Enrolment: 1074 students
Newcastle High School is a large, comprehensive high school situated on two sites in the centre of Newcastle. Of the 1170 students, 9% identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, 4% have English as an additional language or dialect, and there is a support unit made up of four classes.
Newcastle High School is a learning community that values leadership and excellence through the provision of an innovative and individualised curriculum that enables students to be successful beyond school, respectful and responsible citizens.
Passion Projects was developed by a team of teachers through the ‘Schools of the Future’ initiative. The aim of the project was to increase student and staff engagement through positive relationships and offer teachers the opportunity to teach something they are passionate about.
A case for change was developed and the project team identified data sets that they wanted to have a positive impact on - Tell Them from Me, attendance, and improved external test results.
Interested staff completed an expression of interest outlining how their project will meet the 5A’s of big picture design. The learning involved Authenticity, Active learning, Assessment, Academic rigour, and Adult relationships from outside the school.
Students were encouraged to ‘leave to learn’, ensuring learning experiences are relevant to the real world. At the end of 13 weeks, students participated in an exhibition of learning where families and friends were invited to view the student’s exhibition of their learning.
After two years of this initiative staff, students, and parents/carers indicated that student engagement has increased. This has been supported by a number of data sets.
Nathan Towney, Principal Newcastle High School firstname.lastname@example.org
Guiding readings and research
- Leanne Crosswell and A/Prof Bob Elliott, 2004. Committed Teachers, Passionate Teachers: the dimension of passion associated with teacher commitment and engagement.
- Big Picture Australia