The coronavirus pandemic is without doubt, a defining moment, the effect of which will be felt for years to come; the impact upon our school, significant. None the less, schools are optimistic places and are always looking towards the future. With that in mind, St Catherine’s School is thinking about what is next.
Operating our school in the Learn@Home environment has compelled us to consider how we might operate differently in the future. There are major implications in how we might teach, what curriculum we would provide and the organisational structures we will function within.
Even before the pandemic, we had been investigating what learning might look like in the next few years. The recent review of the NSW school curriculum, Nurturing Wonder and Igniting Passion, chaired by Professor Geoff Masters from the Australian Council for Educational Research identified key findings in the report and stated that the curriculum is too dense. The Report strongly recommends:
- De-cluttering the curriculum
- Learning with understanding
- Skills in applying knowledge
- Excellent ongoing progress
Hot on the heels of this NSW review, is a report from the University of Melbourne, Future-Proofing Students: What they need to know and how educators can assess and credential them, which provides a compelling statement of a positive learning direction for schools.
At the centre of this report is an acknowledgement that the current model of schools with a heavy emphasis on learning and recalling content, and the narrow focus on achieving a magic ATAR number, are not enabling our students to learn those capabilities which are essential for post school life. The University report argues that, “the school models should also encompass broader social skills of communication, collaboration and ethical behaviour and the ability to perform in an intercultural environment. Personal skills, such as persistence and the capacity to use feedback and analytical skills, such as computational thinking, creativity and criticality, are also paramount.”
The current work being undertaken at St Catherine’s and an increasing emphasis on learning for understanding and ongoing adjustments of assessments which examine deep understanding of complex concepts and relationships, is reshaping our School. In turn this focus is redefining how we teach. The work we have commenced with the University of Queensland, and the Teaching for Thinking project will accelerate in the second half of 2020.
The University of Melbourne report argues we need to future-proof our students and this means “ensuring that they learn a wide range of skills, or capabilities, that will allow them to thrive in increasingly complex global workplaces.”
Our aim is for all of our students to leave school strong and confident in these capabilities.
Nurturing Wonder and Igniting Passion, Australian Council for Education Research, https://nswcurriculumreview.nesa.nsw.edu.au/home/homePageContent/view
Future-Proofing Students: What they need to know and how educators can assess and credential them, University of Melbourne, https://education.unimelb.edu.au/mgse-industry-reports/report-2-future-proofing-students