If you want to learn more about the topics raised in this article, or talk it through, a Community Conversation is happening at Northcote on May 10th, so please save the date.
Last year, curriculum leaders at our school reviewed ‘learning at Northcote’ by considering the ways we deliver programs, the learning experiences of students and the manner in which we prepare our young people to meet the future.
Evolution is occurring in the world, particularly in the world of work. The World Economic Forum has presented the idea of The Fourth Industrial Revolution, a future where routine skilled and unskilled work will be automated, and where previously highly paid work (such as legal research, for example) may be done by intelligent machines. There is an increasing need to prepare our students for complex and non-routine skilled work. We want them to be skilled collaborators and problem solvers, who think creatively and critically, are ethical and who have sophisticated communication skills. Change needs to occur in (and out) of our classrooms if we want our young people to be prepared for this future. We need our students to learn more deeply, to be self-aware in their learning, and to apply their skills to the real world.
Evolution is also occurring in our school. Increasingly, we need to become a school that personalises learning to meet the needs of our community. At the same time, we need to make sure all of our students are working from a secure foundation of skills and that they know how to learn.
In order to be the kind of school that can continue to deliver on our responsibilities to our community, we have developed a new model for curriculum provision for Years 7 to 10: The Northcote Model. The enhancements we are making will be made in two stages. The first stage, which will be available to Years 9 and 10, will begin in 2018. The second stage, involving Years 7 and 8, will start from 2019.
What is the Northcote Model?
In the Northcote Model, learning at Years 9 and 10 will be organised to provide greater student choice. Students will still need to complete a set number of semester-long courses in each Learning Area over two years. However, they will be able to request access to a range of courses within each area, and have the opportunity to make decisions about how they learn in their subjects. In addition, they will select six semester-length courses over two years from any of the Learning Areas, so that they can do more of what they are passionate about, or, alternatively, choose a greater variety of experiences.
The traditional distinction between ‘core’ subjects and ‘elective’ subjects will dissolve, and all courses offered will be designed around the concept of ‘hard fun’: the idea that increased achievement is best encouraged in an environment that is both challenging and engaging. Courses are currently being documented, and the Victorian Curriculum underpins every opportunity that will be offered to students. Our Years 7 and 8 program will focus on strengthening students’ academic skills and offering a broad program with clearly differentiated experiences in each of these two year levels.
When will the changes start?
If your child is currently in Year 8, you will be part of our subject selection process from Term 3 this year. Decisions about which subjects a student requests should emerge from discussions at home and at school which acknowledge the student’s interests, skills and needs; the family’s knowledge of their child; as well as the knowledge the student’s tutor and subject teachers have about the child as a learner. With increased subject offerings comes the obligation for us to partner with families in assisting our young people to make great choices.
If your child is currently in Year 7, 8 or 9, you may want to attend our Community Conversation on May 10th.
Please see below a range of research and information that has informed the review, planning and implementation of the learning program design.
For information on the future of work, see:
On the future of learning:
By Yong Zhao, who has worked with us through The Mitchell Institute and Victorian Association of Secondary School Principals.