In­no­va­tive cur­ricu­lum pro­gram for col­lege

Warragul & Drouin Gazette - - NEWS - By Yvette Brand

An in­no­va­tive learn­ing phi­los­o­phy that aims to give stu­dents sub­ject choices based on abil­ity and in­ter­est rather than year level age groups will be in­tro­duced at War­ragul Re­gional Col­lege next year.

The ini­tia­tive will, in time, see years eight, nine and 10 stu­dents com­bined in learn­ing ar­eas to en­sure in­di­vid­ual needs are met.

The new pro­gram was out­lined to more than 330 par­ents at re­cent in­for­ma­tion ses­sion.

De­signed to give stu­dents choice and flex­i­bil­ity in learn­ing, prin­ci­pal Paul van Breugel said the pro­gram had been em­braced by the school com­mu­nity.

Mr van Breu­gal, who has been prin­ci­pal for two years, said the new pro­gram was an ex­cit­ing change for the school’s cur­ricu­lum and was an im­por­tant step in giv­ing stu­dents more op­por­tu­ni­ties.

“We know that peo­ple learn best when they are learn­ing about some­thing they are in­ter­ested in, have some skill at, are cu­ri­ous about or that has some pur­pose or mean­ing to them,” he said.

The model, de­vel­oped by WRC but based on philoso­phies of Amer­i­can aca­demic Yong Zhao, is tar­geted at years eight, nine and 10 stu­dents. Year seven will be­come an “in­duc­tion” year for stu­dents mak­ing the tran­si­tion from pri­mary to sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion and in­tro­duc­ing them to a range of main­stream ed­u­ca­tion choices.

From year eight, Mr van Breugel said stu­dents would con­tinue to un­der­take four core study groups in­clud­ing English, maths, science and health/phys­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion.

He said years eight, nine and 10 stu­dents would have ac­cess to a range of sub­jects and a range of choices that would be based on in­ter­est and abil­ity rather than year level.

Mr van Breugel said next year’s pro­gram was the first step in a longer term plan where stu­dents of dif­fer­ent year lev­els will learn to­gether based on aca­demic abil­ity in core sub­jects and in­ter­ests in elec­tive sub­jects.

He said while se­nior stu­dents were en­cour­aged to do ac­cel­er­ated pro­grams in strength ar­eas, the same would ap­ply in ju­nior lev­els where classes could have com­bined year lev­els to meet aca­demic abil­ity.

“We want to avoid putting kids into classes based on age…at the mo­ment we think about kids in blocks. That’s where we want to evolve to – not talk­ing about kids in year lev­els.

“The key change is we are look­ing at giv­ing the stu­dents more choice early in their school­ing.

“The key driver of this is when kids are do­ing what they want to do, they learn bet­ter. It’s very much a move to­wards a stu­dent-cen­tred model.

Mr van Breugel said stu­dents also would have the op­por­tu­nity to develop in­de­pen­dent learn­ing plans. But, he said, aca­demic re­sults and work habits would be still con­sid­ered.

Mr van Breugel said the school’s stu­dent lead­er­ship team and stu­dents had been con­sulted dur­ing fo­rums through­out the year.

He said there was a com­mon frus­tra­tion among stu­dents that they were “put in the same box” re­gard­less of in­ter­ests and ca­reer am­bi­tions.

“The kids were born in the 21st cen­tury and we need to give them a 21st cen­tury ed­u­ca­tion.

“This is about our school vi­sion…to nur­ture the learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence suited to each stu­dent.

“It is a fo­cus on the in­di­vid­ual rather than all the same. For ex­am­ple a stu­dent who knows early on they want a ca­reer in medicine can have the op­por­tu­nity to do more science and maths in their school­ing.

With 800 stu­dents at the school, Mr van Breugel ac­knowl­edged there would con­tinue to be timetabling con­straints but the new pro­gram would cre­ate more flex­i­bil­ity in elec­tive classes and sub­jects of­fered.

Mr van Breugel said while parts of the pro­gram were mod­elled on sim­i­lar pro­grams, he hoped WRC would be­come a leader and it would evolve into hold­ing a rep­u­ta­tion of be­ing the “War­ragul Re­gional Col­lege model.”

After two years at the school, War­ragul Re­gional Col­lege prin­ci­pal Paul van Breugel is lead­ing a new learn­ing model that will be in­tro­duced for years eight, nine and 10 stu­dents next year.

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