The Hills Christian Community School provides a broad, rigorous, engaging and challenging teaching and learning programme for its students.
Teachers plan with, and implement, the Australian Curriculum. At Verdun, this implementation has been successful because:
Every classroom teacher belongs to a teaching team. As well as planning the curriculum in these professional teams, teachers also moderate student work, agree on pre and post assessment tasks, consider differentiation of learning episodes, group students for specific learning tasks across classes based on the assessment data and rotate classes.
As teachers have grappled with understanding and implementing the Australian Curriculum, having at least 2 lessons each week for planning provided by the School, has been crucial. HCCS teachers are members of a ‘pit crew’ and ‘lone rangers’ no longer fit into our collaborative, team orientated and quality staff.
HCCS is blessed with an abundance of quality teacher leaders who have continued to share innovative and good practice between the teams which has ‘raised the bar’ with expectations for the delivery of authentic teaching and learning.
Teachers in their teams have recognised that there are so many outcomes to deliver at each level that some specialization is wise. Therefore, within teams some teachers may focus on the planning of History, Geography, Visual Art or Health, and share their planning with the team.
HCCS is blessed with strong specialist programmes in Physical Education, Performing Arts, German, Science and ICT (information Communication Technologies) and these programmes are now planned to meet outcomes of the Australian Curriculum.
The Australian Curriculum is readily accessible on the ACARA (Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority) Website at www.acara.edu.au which enabled the staff to plan for, and implement, English and Mathematics in the first instance, followed by Science and History. These subject areas have also been reported upon in the HCCS Annual Report. Families are able to refer to the ACARA Website to understand the expectations of each subject at every year level.
However, the implementation of the Australian Curriculum at Verdun is only part of the teaching and learning story. Other highlights include:
The ongoing professional staff conversations provoke improvements with our use of Inquiry methodology in our Integrated Topics (children exploring big ideas and researching things of interest to them) resulting in deeper thinking and rich engagement.
The focus on structured play, adapting the Kath Walker approach, has been well received by families of children in Reception and year 1 and so engaging for the students
The introduction of Jolly Phonics in 2010 has strengthened our Literacy programme with reading levels well beyond what had been experienced previously. Teachers introduce the Jolly Phonics to families during orientation visits and information evenings.
Celebrations of children’s learning at parent gatherings and the well attended Student Led Conferences. Children’s learning is also celebrated in the weekly Newsletter, as are the Integrated Topics which are published so that parents can be more involved.
The introduction of Interactive Whiteboards or interactive televisions into all teaching spaces to further engage children’s minds with their learning. HCCS supports a range of technical devices to support student learning including a refurbished computer suite, a roaming set of laptops, use of iPads in Special Education and lower Primary classes, and a wireless environment at Verdun has resulted in technology which assists to prepare children for life in the 21st Century and supports daily learning. The appointment of a specialist ICT teacher has also proved so successful.
A dedicated and knowledgeable Extended Education staff who support the learning of all students and particularly those with Individual Learning Plans. Families appreciate the advice and support of this team as well.
A strategic focus on the Environment with ready access to the Onkaparinga River and therefore partnerships with the National Resource Management (NRM) team with Fishwatch and Waterwatch and the Scientists in Schools programme.
The use of testing, assessments and other data to influence the teaching and learning programme. Knowledge of each individual child, however, creates the respectful relationships and nurturing of the whole child, which is a priority at HCCS.
At the Oakbank Campus, the teaching and learning programme is also broad, rigorous, engaging and challenging. Highlights of our ‘young’ Year 8 – year 12 school include: