Well a lot of things actually. Most schools expect the students to fit in with the school rather than the school trying to adapt to best meet the needs of the individual student. We think very carefully about the directions the school heads. We want to be educational leaders and innovators, not followers and to inspire these qualities in our students. We are not aiming to become an alternative school but rather to exemplify now what good education will be like in all schools in 5 to 10 years time. The school is now on a rapid trajectory to achieve its vision to be a dynamic and caring learning community recognised for future focused personalised learning.
Dynamic & Caring
Quite simply we care about your kids!
We care for our kids! We open our large and comfortable Resource Centre, from 7.30am to 5.30pm Monday to Thursday and on Fridays from 7.30am to 4.00pm, as a safe and inviting place for students to study in comfort with a free coffee, tea or Milo before and after school! This area is also a great back up if parents are running late for a pick up.
Rather than being allocated a Form or Home Group Teacher, our students select their own Learning Mentor as the person to assist them with school issues and help them set goals for their learning. Because parents know that their child likes this person and that this staff member has made a personal commitment to help and assist their child, this obviously reduces the reluctance parents can sometimes feel at secondary school to raise issues. We are not aware of another school in Victoria who offers this.
Students are allocated to a House overseen by a Head of House who monitors their progress and acts in the role of a parental figure reinforcing positive behaviour and correcting inappropriate behaviour. Students participate in a wide collection of House activities and events throughout the year.
In any school there will still be some issues that are not easily resolved. Whilst we have excellent support structures in place it is my belief that eventually the buck stops with the Principal. Parents, staff and students have my phone number and if issues remain unresolved in spite of everyone's best efforts I am happy to be contacted directly.
Be a Name not a number!
We have taken the conscious decision to remain a small learning community. Our aim is to achieve and maintain a total size of 650 students, comprising one hundred students per year level and fifty international students. As we do not wish to exceed this number of students at each year level, we will reach this eventual size in 2017.
Why remain a small school?
Simply because we know that small schools can deliver a more personalised learning experience and better care than big schools can ever do. Don't just take our word for it though, try Googling "research on school size” and see what the evidence says. The results really are overwhelming!
Attitude determines altitude
Our attitude is different. We invite you to be an educational partner with us in the educational process. We have a saying that everything is negotiable and "yes” is the default. That is not to say that we are in any way slack or laissez-faire when it comes to standards. We simply offer students and their parents and guardians the opportunity to be involved in making suggestions and decisions about their educational experience.
Taking the stress out of Homework for families – A learning partnership
Each child is different, as are their parents' views on homework, and this will also depend on whether the student is likely to pursue a University degree, a trade qualification or is still undecided. We accept that there are differing views on the importance of homework at the younger year levels and respect and can accommodate the views of parents. Those students taking part in VCE are expected and required to complete homework so as not to negatively impact on the rest of the class by students being unprepared or behind.
Monitoring homework can be a real issue for some families. We have a program called Remote Monitored Homework where students in Year 7-9 together with their parents negotiate a certain amount of homework that will be done across the week in addition to that which is set by class teachers. TC uses a range of eLearning software to help build skills and identify gaps in knowledge in the key areas of Literacy and Numeracy. This commitment is then monitored centrally by the College and communicated regularly to parents.
We insist on a learning environment that is free of harassment, disruptive behaviour and racial intolerance. Instances of ongoing disruption that occur in class will result in the student being removed from class and parents contacted. Likewise we do not want to be wasting time dealing with things like incorrect uniform or issues of smoking etc.
We ask that all students and their families respect the right of staff to concentrate on working positively with students.
Our students now have a head start in developing their ICT ability and can take advantage of all the latest learning technologies available in all their classes. Templestowe students in Years 7 to 12 all have their own Netbook computer. We are only the third Government School in Victoria to do this.
Templestowe College was the first school in Victoria to offer the innovative Your Tutor program where students can connect with a live Tutor located around Australia between 3.00pm and 10.00pm six nights a week to receive assistance with their homework, assignments and study techniques. These Tutors are postgraduate students, retired or existing teachers and can assist with anything from assistance with a Year 7 English essay to the hardest Year 12 Specialist Maths problem. The feedback from our students and their relieved parents has been very positive.
A dynamic and future focused curriculum
A new engaging curriculum focusing heavily on improving literacy and numeracy in Years 7 to 9 which as we all know are the building blocks to students achieving success in the later years.
To help us decide what electives to offer we asked the students what they wanted to study. We now offer Computer Gaming Design in cooperation with our educational partner, Latrobe University, Working with Animals, Geek Studies with a focus on robotics, Textiles, Food Technology just to name a few.
Where a student or small group of students has a particular interest area we encourage them to pursue this through the Spice It Up program. Staff will assist students to plan and carry out their own activity or Individual Learning Project (ILP) around their particular area or interest that falls outside the existing curriculum. Whenever students develop a proposal for an activity with educational value we will do our best to support them in making it happen. Remember at Templestowe, "Yes” is the default.
One size does NOT fit all - Personalised Learning
We have a genuine emphasis on personalised learning so that students have greater ownership and enjoyment in what they are studying. Many schools claim this but I would actually encourage you to ask them how they actually do this? At Templestowe, right from Year 7, students can choose 30% of their course through a range of student directed electives. We also encourage our more self directed students to design their own individual learning projects, ILPs and support them in this process.
In 2011 we introduced three different streams at Year 7 with the students divided on the basis of their preferred learning style, direct instruction, collaborative learning and independent accelerated learning. Practically this means that students will be taught in ways they like and will be given additional support during activities that are taught in ways that may come less naturally to them. How is that for personalised learning!
In 2012 we will introduce a fourth stream which is designed to support students who have come from a Montessori educational background. We are working in partnership with the Montessori Secondary Education Centre to best meet these students' needs.
Catering for a range of pathways and interests
We believe in supporting students at all levels of academic ability. We offer VCE over three years to enable students to spread out their academic program and for the more capable students to attempt Unit 3&4 subjects in Year 11 and repeat them again in Year 12 which they can do without penalty. This enables students repeating subjects to refine their understanding the second time around and maximise their Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR).
Having three year cohorts rather than two studying VCE together with our forty to fifty International Students means that we can offer a truly broad based VCE with a large subject choice.
We offer a select entry VCAL class (Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning) at Year 10 to 12 where students wanting to pursue a trade gain skills in Work Related skills, Literacy and Numeracy through a range of practical hands on activities.
It is said in the new economy that "A person with a head with no hand, or hands and no head, is dead.” The most valuable employees and entrepreneurs in the future will be those who have both academic AND practical skills. We encourage students of all academic abilities to strongly consider a Vocational Educational Training (VET) subject in their Unit 3&4 course load.
We offer VET Hospitality on site but can also assist students to access over 28 other courses delivered as part of the Mullum and Central Cluster of schools and TAFEs.
Our staff offer after school support in Maths and Science three afternoons per week in the Resource Centre to assist either individuals or study groups.
Extra Curricular Opportunities
The list of opportunities Templestowe College students can participate in is extensive and truly dynamic based on the needs and interests of students at the time. Activities like camps, performing arts, formal events, and sporting events allow students to form closer, more positive and caring working relationships with their peers and school staff. They also represent the glue that holds a learning community together and marks the passing of time. Activities which take students outside the classroom expose and focus students to future career and recreational possibilities, and the fact that students have the choice of which opportunities they take up really does make for a personalised learning experience.
Looking Forwards to 2012
Agricultural Science Elective
A stream at Years 7-9 supporting students from a Montessori primary school background
If these topics are of particular interest, please feel free to talk with me about them.