All parents believe their children to be gifted and/or talented. So do we!
Extension programs at most schools are generally aimed at offering small groups of ‘identified’ students the opportunity to participate in challenging courses to extend them. The difference between these schools and our school is that we don’t withdraw a small number of students and give them access to elitist programs, we give all students access to extension beyond what is expected, in every lesson!
At Mundaring Christian College we ensure that all children have access ‘challenging courses that extend them’. All students are explicitly taught Creative and Critical Thinking skills in all subjects. This is done through our aligning A-E reporting grades with Bloom’s Taxonomy of thinking skills. Every student can see what they need to do to get a high grade and can strive for this with teacher support.
Our whole-school assessment policy makes it mandatory for all teachers to teach higher-order skills such as evaluating, justifying and analysing to every student and to assess these skills in every assessment task. We work on the premise that all students can do these things if they are taught how and if teachers expect them to be able to.
Currently our classes for the core learning areas of Science, Mathematics, Humanities and English are organised on the basis of levels of support for students e.g. in Year 8 we have two English classes which run simultaneously; 8.2 is for more independent learners and has 27 students while 8.1 has 13 students who require greater teacher support. All classes for the same year group are being taught the same curriculum, their only difference being that students receive more or less support from the class teacher depending on the class size.
Ongoing, teachers identify those students who either require more teacher support or are working more independently and require less teacher support and adjustments are made accordingly.
All of our teachers have many students in their classes and support all students in their role as teachers. However, there are some students who do need a bit more than this.
Most schools have been challenged in this area (due to the government not going ahead with the reforms highlighted in the Gonski Review, which would have provided additional education support teachers) and we are no exception. However, our strategies in place to support students with special learning needs include:
- A special needs teacher who spends two full days in classrooms working with children to support them in accessing the mainstream curriculum.
- 10 teachers who have willingly given up one of their preparation and marking periods and volunteered to work side by side with classroom teachers, providing additional help to students with their organisation, understanding what is required, planning, and learning.
- Many of our teachers have also volunteered to be ‘significant adults’ in the lives of some of our year 10 students. Research tells us that adolescent students need an adult (other than their parents) that they can ‘go to’ for help and support as they negotiate adolescence as a stage in their development. These teachers will mentor students who have been targeted by them as needing special attention. They will meet with them regularly and provide support and guidance.
- Our subject teachers of core learning areas (Maths/Science, English/History) are also providing additional support by making themselves available to students during an after school session and lunchtime session (Maths/Science: Wednesday 3.15-4.00 pm; English/History: Friday lunchtime).
Our teachers genuinely care for their students. We are interested in their welfare and in making sure they develop into the people they were created to be.