Skills, Capabilities, Feedback and Reporting.

Screen Shot 2017-06-10 at 6.30.05 AM
Credit to Accessed 10 June, 2017.

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.”

St Luke’s is a next generation community establishing the new normal for preschool to post school learning as part of an extended school day, 6:00am to 6:00pm. The General Capabilities are foundational to the St Luke’s Learning Statement, which, in part, reads:

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
  • MANAGE self
  • 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.

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.

As always, comments and feedback are welcome.



5 thoughts on “Skills, Capabilities, Feedback and Reporting.

  1. Another brain-nudger Greg – thank you.

    Do you think the spaces in which your students learn have any relevance or impact on their ability to explore the full potential of the six pillars?

    1. Hi Matt,

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. To answer your question, the space is one important enabler for teachers and students to work together on embedding the 6 Pillars so that we can say, “That’s what we do around here”.

      Recently, I was reading Rebooting Industrial Era Seating by Eric Sheninger & Thomas C. Murray. The article focuses on designing learning spaces which move away from the industrial era to enable personalised learning which leverages the power of technology.

      With reference to the 6 Pillars, our spaces promote the “Collaboration and Communication” pillar in both physical and virtual spaces through the provision of comfortable and flexible seating arrangements which are agile enough to be reconfigured in a short period of time. The spaces facilitate students working together and support the “Relate with Others” pillar.

      Whilst there is a strong focus on “collaboration and communication”, students can also work in their own physical and virtual space. Most particularly, there is a whole school emphasis think critically through reflection, of which students have the opportunity to withdraw to different parts of the space and choose which furniture that best suits them.

      There is no ‘front of the room’ because we value many ‘circles of influence’ in each learning space. At times, we implement Carol Kulthau’s ‘Guided Inquiry’ as part of our approach to contemporary learning. There is no ‘front of the room’ because we acknowledge that there are many circles of influence in a learning cooperative. To advance this commitment we are currently working with Hamish Curry from NoTosh to establish a maker space which exists within and connects to learning spaces areas.

      Immediate connectivity of student devices to larger monitors so that students can share their work is a characteristic of the spaces. In fact, these monitors form areas known as ‘points of focus’ which also contain glass back whiteboards at a 90 degree angle. Such areas allow students to share their work on the monitors and to visualise their thinking on the white boards nearby. Student can immediately take a photo of their work and upload it to their online files, one way of being “digitally literature”.

      As Sheninger and Murray write, “Learning spaces that promote socially catalytic interactions, where students can engage in social skills and relationship building, connect classroom spaces to common areas where students and staff can meet informally. During a class period, these spaces may be used for small-group instruction and interactions. Before school, between classes, and after school, these spaces provide areas where class discussions continue, social skills are built, and informal interactions occur.” As well as, “Redesigning learning spaces is … about better meeting the needs of today’s modern learners so that they can be given every opportunity in tomorrow’s world.”


  2. Thanks Greg for you article on St Luke’s, having the pillar witness , really stands out as a strength, not separate, but embedded in everything at St Luke’s. Being digitally literate, what is your school approach to this in regards to device required by students?
    We have a focus on formative/flip/PBL, are you using flip or PBL as a platform for your pillars?
    Thanks for sharing, it is helping me reflect on where to from here.
    Cheers Simon

    1. Students from Stage 3 (years 5 & 6) onwards are expected to bring their own device. Stage 2 are invited but not expected. All but 1 has their own device. That one child has access to a bank of devices which Stage 1 and Kindergarten use once or twice a week. Pedagogically, we have adopted the Guided Inquiry Approach (Kuhlthau, 2007).

  3. Hi Greg – another great reflective and practical blog by yourself. You are tackling the general capabilities head on. I think in many circles it is seen as an “add on” – an “optional extra” or something “that is taught in all my classes anyway”. We need to make it a clear and concise set of skills (and knowledge even) that needs to be integrated into our pedagogy for our students. My creating these pillars – that is definitely headed in the right direction! It is at the core!
    You are using Student Led Conferences to report back to parents. I think this is a great move. As these skills are best seen in the interaction with people – this medium is “spot on”. As Bill Lucas suggests a mark out of 10 isn’t going to cut it. Love to come out and visit you @ St Lukes!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s