Rather, they work alongside ‘tribes’ of youngsters to craft inventive, real-world projects that give back to the community.
After 10 years of research, the model is being monitored and evaluated by Western Sydney University.
Doing away with the traditional classroom set-up, students are grouped in a ‘village’ made up of three ‘tribes’ of 20, with each tribe assigned a teacher.
“We want students to be able to draw on the subject expertise of those teachers, but we also want those teachers to get to know those students really well and to be able to support them, both as young people and as learners...” principal Stacey Quince says.
Community engagement is a clear focus of the venture. By teaming skills and knowledge development with real-world problem solving, students relate all their learning to the wider world.
“So wherever possible when students are developing products or services, they’re co-developing and receiving feedback and critique from experts in the industry that most closely align with the work that they’re doing,” Quince says.
One such project saw students design and create gardens for under-utilised spaces, and map out a magazine to educate the community – which was then published and distributed.
“And in humanities they’ve been looking at technology, and specifically virtual and augmented reality, and the products and services that they developed for that unit saw students in groups identifying, developing a concept for, and a pitch, for an augmented or virtual reality app...” Quince adds.
While this is only the beginning of the new model, results are incredibly encouraging for students, parents and teachers. In this short time, there has been a huge impact on student agency, student engagement and student learning, and students are developing the strong conviction that they can have a beneficial impact on the wider world.
“They’re excited that what they’re developing serves a purpose beyond school and they’re really excited about this notion that actually even as young people, they can be agents of change and genuinely make a difference, not only in their school but actually in the broader community in ways that really matter," Quince says.