“Governments need to prioritise the teaching, testing and reporting of achievement in capabilities alongside core curriculum. For capabilities to count they need to be measured and reported at a national level, assessed in schools and communicated to parents and considered alongside or contribute to ATAR.” (Mitchell Report, 2016:19).
As you may be aware, St Luke’s Catholic College in Marsden Park is committed to bringing social skills and enterprise skills to prominence for our students and their parents. This commitment has seen us align the Australian General Capabilities with our 6 Pillars of Learning. By focusing our learning around these 6 Pillars, over time, a folio of evidence will emerge for each student to better understand their strengths and capabilities to assist them become creative contributors and innovative problems solvers for a changing world.
At St Luke’s, the 6 Pillars figure prominently when:
teachers collaboratively plan the learning,
students self reflect on their learning,
students seek feedback from peers and teachers, and most recently,
when writing semester reports.
As you will see from this sample report, whilst they adhere to A to E reporting requirements, they are very different to most NSW primary school reports. The College undertook an extensive process which was made possible due to:
Our Assistant Principal developing many iterations of reports after many collaborative conversations between teachers and the leadership team. Here are her latest reflections about the process.
Teachers using Scope and Sequences and Programs to align the 6 Pillars and syllabus outcomes.
Parents attending a Parent Engagement Event on Tuesday 13 June. This video was used on that evening to provide “the why” of reporting in this new manner.
As we know, Parent/Teacher interviews usually follow ‘reporting season’. To complement these new reports, it was identified that another way to bring social skills and enterprise skills to prominence was for the students themselves to reflect and then offer feedback via Student-led Conferences.
At the same Parent Engagement Event on 13 June, parents were informed that the goal of Student-led Conferences is to help students communicate their learning to their parents using their work as evidence. Conversations often tell us more than perhaps we can measure through conventional assessments and through the Student-led Conferences held over the last few weeks, teachers noted that students:
shared understandings of their strengths according to the 6 Pillars,
confirmed areas for improvement; and,
highlighted personal achievements of which they were proud.
The initial verbal feedback is quite encouraging about both reports and Student-led Conferences. Collectively, teachers and leaders now see many possibilities for closer alignment between daily learning, weekly formative feedback and summative reporting at the end the year. In saying that, the Leadership Team is overseeing processes which will obtain feedback from parents, teachers and students via surveys. This feedback will assist our thinking for the next iteration of reports.
As usual, I would appreciate your time to provide comments or ask questions.
There are numerous articles and many research papers which argue that schooling needs to shift its focus from high stakes testing to a greater focus on the social skills and enterprise capabilities each student requires for a changing world. In fact, Bill Lucas from Mitchell Institute declares capabilities are the new currency for success in life.
In Australia, the importance of these skills and capabilities are expressed through the seven General Capabilities of the Australian Curriculum. These “… play a significant role in the Australian Curriculum in equipping young Australians to live and work successfully in the twenty-first century.”
Within a safe and secure environment, literacy, numeracy and faith formation are viewed as strong foundations to assist young people identify and solve problems. With each person taking responsibility for their own learning, all learners participate actively in a changing world where they are obligated to:
WITNESS by living the Good News as revealed through the Gospel of St Luke
RELATE with others
COLLABORATE with peers and experts to respond to challenges
COMMUNICATE responses to real world problems
THINK CRITICALLY using self reflection and peer assessment as part of the learning process.
Be DIGITALLY LITERATE.
St Luke’s has translated the General Capabilities into these 6 Pillars of Learning (above) which shapes our approach to programming, assessment and reporting. This is because “social-emotional development is not ancillary to the work of educators, but foundational to it” (Adams, 2016). Such a belief has resulted in many questions including:
How do we bring to prominence the development of social skills and enterprise skills so necessary for a changing world?
How can we engage align real time formative feedback for students and parents?
How can we ensure social skills and enterprise skills are prominent in programming, reporting and assessment?
As a result of asking these questions, students now engage in ongoing self reflection and peer critique about their progress along the 6 Pillar continuum. Furthermore, when they offer these reflections via the online application Seesaw, parents are notified in real time with some posting comments of encouragement. These digital artefacts have resulted in a developing folio of evidence, some of which will be used by each child at our upcoming Student-led Conferences with parents and teachers.
The General Capabilities offer an excellent reference point for our school community when nurturing curious, faith filled children to become creative contributors and innovative problems solvers for a changing world.