As the principal of a new learning community establishing the new normal for pre to post schooling, I am obligated to collaboratively explore options for a flexible and differentiated curriculum which is authentically personalised through collaborative processes led, driven and developed by each student.
When in Melbourne last week, I visited three schools. Each school views students as as the drivers of their own learning, not having learning ‘done’ to them. One school in particular, Templestowe College, genuinely hands over ‘control’ to each student, and “everything is negotiable”. The automatic response to students when they negotiate their semester learning program is to say, “Yes, we can look at that.” This culture of trusting students to direct their own learning, along with an unwavering commitment to flexible timetables and diverse curriculum offerings, has resulted in students who, among other things:
serve as traditional staff employees including grounds personnel, teacher assistants and front office support staff, AND, they are paid!
train other students to deliver a reading preparation program for primary students
participate in the local community as professional musicians
market an online game to an overseas investor
tender for the provision of on site cafe services
engage in elite sporting programs
provide catering and hospitality services for local community events after a tendering process
organise business conferences using school facilities
establish business which sell products based on business proposals and marketing plans
establish animal breeding programs in liaison with relevant government authorities
use maker spaces, laser cutters and three D printers to design products that support emerging business ventures.
All these activities form part of a student’s ‘timetable’ and they are just the tip of the iceberg! The school offers an extremely varied curriculum with authentically rich individual learning pathways. Personalised learning is truly authentic! Individual learning pathways are developed by the student, inclusive of parents and signed off by the principal. This is done so in accordance with Clause 82 of the Victorian Curriculum Accreditation Authority. It reads as follows….
“If a school proposes for any student an individual learning program that departs from the provision model set out in the whole-school curriculum plan, that decision should be made in conjunction with the student and the student’s parents/carers, and must be approved by the school principal” –Victoria Curriculum December 2015
The principal has cleverly interpreted that each student is entitled to determine their own individual learning program. I am wondering if there is a similar clause in NSW. For example, although it applies for students with disabilities, is thecollaborative curriculum planning process for students a ‘way in’ for each and every student to develop their own personalised learning pathway? One part that jumps out at me is……..
“The decision should be made through the collaborative curriculum planning process involving the student, parent/carer and other significant individuals. School systems and individual schools are responsible for the manner in which the collaborative process is managed.”
In accepting that no two learners are the same, is the collaborative curriculum planning process a ‘way in’ for personalised learning to become a reality for each and every student in New South Wales?