Future-readying our young people

25/02/2021 - 11:35

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All Saints’ College’s focus on problem-finding and problem-solving helps prepare students for life, not just an exam.

In the VUCA* world our young people will inherit, All Saints’ College believes that - rather than merely preparing students to pass exams - one of its core responsibilities is to equip its students with the ability to embrace change and uncertainty.

“To do so requires a skillset and a mindset that include initiative and enterprise, creativity and collaboration, and a passion for problem-finding and problem-solving,” says Principal, Belinda Provis.

“Because we want to ensure our students ‘know what to do when they don’t know what to do’ in these exciting though rapidly changing times,” said Ms Provis, “we are also keen that they have a strong moral compass. Our students know that, when faced with uncertainty, they can ask ERIC – our College values of Empathy, Respect, Integrity and Courage – for a clear and constant sense of guidance.”

“The College is committed to actively looking beyond traditional modes of learning to a space where the boundaries between secondary education, tertiary study and the workplace are blurred,” said Ms Provis. “Rather than being preparation for the real world, school is the real world.”

This approach is realised through the College’s signature ‘ATAR Plus’ approach which recognises that, whatever pathway students may choose - whether ATAR, General, Enterprise or a hybrid – of equal importance are the capabilities and what have traditionally been called the “soft skills”, including creativity and compassion, problem-finding and problem-solving, flexibility and agility, and so on. These and more are developed via a suite of innovative programs at the College, including Propeller Industries (its Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship), Catalyst (the College’s centre for service and social enterprise) and Runway, its pop-up shop which features students’ goods and services.

In 2021, the College’s ‘ATAR Plus’ approach will evolve further with the continued rollout of a timetable structure that further supports ‘personalisable’ learning pathways designed to empower students to take control of, and co-design, their learning, thus helping to develop their agency and efficacy.

Real-world work experience

As part of the College’s belief in developing students’ agency and efficacy, the College recently launched The Agency, its employment agency just for ASC students.

The Agency enriches the ASC students’ exposure to entrepreneurialism, problem-finding and problem-solving.

While students volunteer their time and skills in an array of service opportunities on offer, The Agency offers students the opportunity to develop contemporary workplace skills while applying their passions, skills and talents in authentic contexts, and being remunerated for it!

The Agency sees ASC students apply their skills to a range of roles at the College, including that of Graphic Designer, Soundtrack Composer, Tech Coach, Videographer, Book Reviewer and so on, under the guidance of a mentoring line manager.

Going beyond boundaries

Underpinning the College’s pedagogy is Djoowak: The Beyond Boundaries Institute (BBI). Launched in 2018, BBI comprises a team of College staff and students working alongside partners from the wider educational community and from industry. This ‘think tank’ explores and helps implement new and flexible structures and practices for learning that recognise and are focused on our diverse student cohort’s interests, abilities, passions and skills, and that are directed to nurturing future-capable young people.

The BBI is also a thought-leader in the Australian and international education arenas. It recently launched a thought-provoking report calling for paradigm-sized shifts in how we educate Australia’s young people.

The report, How do the Horizons and Barriers in the World of Work and Education Impact on Pre-K to Year 12 Education?, includes the considered opinions of 18 members of the BBI’s advisory group on how best to help students be prepared to meet future challenges.

What are the new metrics for measuring student success?

As a lighthouse school for innovation and entrepreneurship in Western Australia, All Saints’ was recently selected by The University of Melbourne (UoM) from a highly competitive national field to be a partner school in New Metrics for Success: Transforming what we value in schools – a unique, collaborative research venture between UoM and a limited number of selected, innovative schools, designed to address the ‘meta-problems’ faced by Australian schools today and into the future.

The partnership provides an opportunity for ASC to join academic experts and international education reformers to reimagine education and grow beyond the current ‘grammar of schooling’ that continues to lock our education system into many of the 20th century features of education.

“Our constant focus is on creating a ‘personalisable’ learning environment for our young people, one that gives them the skills and knowledge, capabilities and dispositions to thrive into the future,” said Ms Provis. “We recognise that such learning does not occur in a silo - partnerships are central to our approach and our success, and we are so grateful to the many, many wonderful partners who have chosen to work with us.”

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