Fremantle has a rich history of going beyond the boundaries of standardised mainstream education: think The Community School, Port Community School, Montessori and Lance Holt.
Fremantle’s eclectic, diverse and progressive community supports and nurtures innovation and will see the emergence, in 2022, of a new model of senior secondary education in Fremantle: The Studio School (TSS).
Powered by All Saints’ College (ASC) through ASC’s Djoowak: The Beyond Boundaries Institute (BBI), TSS offers an exciting alternative to mainstream schooling structures and systems through a ‘studio model’. This model sees students in Years 10 to 12 combine their studies with ‘real-world’ projects and engagements in order to achieve their WACE and, if desired, an ATAR.
“The studio model is new to WA’s education ecosystem, however it has existed for years in progressive communities in the US, UK and Europe – think High Tech High, The D School and NuVu,” said Director of BBI, Ms Esther Hill.
“This model responds to the changing nature of work and society, and sees some radical shifts away from the traditional ‘grammar’ of schooling – the structures and paradigms of an industrial model – to the growing need for agile, flexible, self-determining young people who thrive in our VUCA* world,” she added.
The studio model offers four significant challenges to the current model: these challenges focus on where students learn, what students learn, who students learn from and the ways in which we measure success.
Where students learn
In challenging where students learn, TSS sees the traditional school with its hallways and classrooms replaced with a co-working space for students, staff and mentors: students are free to move between learning spaces where they can focus on individual work, working with a group or engaging with online learning. Rather than hidden away on a separate campus, the studio model is integrated into the heart of the city, in this case Fremantle, seeking to connect with what is often called, in education, the ‘real world’. A CBD campus studio model invites the community into the space, with opportunities to share their work, exhibit their art, run and participate in meetings with local organisations - the campus is the real world!
What students learn
The studio model challenges what students learn by moving away from a standardised one-size-fits-all model of education to a bespoke and personalised model. With learning organised around the students’ interests and passions, the curriculum is codesigned with the students and it is negotiated, flexible and agile to the changing opportunities and interests of young people.
From whom students learn
Key to this is a shift in our understanding of from whom students learn. Whilst the studio’s mainstream curriculum is facilitated by teachers, online platforms and peer-to-peer learning, the focal point of each student’s learning program is the projects, the experiences and qualifications in which they engage. A long way from decontextualised classrooms in traditional high school environments, students pair with mentors in industry, social enterprise and community, and their learning is ‘real world’, from people with relevant skills and connections. Learning on the job, learning in flow, learning connected to experts.
Another challenge to the current education model of education are the success measures applied to the studio’s graduates. While still attaining the standard measures of success – grades and (if desired) an ATAR, the studio focuses on:
· the tangible measures of success. These real-world outcomes may include an e-portfolio, demonstrating students’ engagement in a project, or evidence of the success of the social impact strategy for reducing plastic use, composing and recording an album of original songs, designing a website and so on;
· A shift away from knowledge and skills toward capabilities essential to thrive in the new world of work - collaboration, organisation, creative thinking and problem solving. Success can be measured by growth and development in these essential capacities, with authentic opportunities to explore and showcase these.
“Opening in 2022, The Studio School affords a glimpse into the education of the future. With the decline of the ATAR in our current system, and with clear evidence of the alarming increase in the mental health and wellbeing issues for young people, we offer an alternative vision of tomorrow’s learning that has, at its heart, the flourishing of our youth,” said Ms Hill.
“TSS’s model attends to the moral imperative of an education that supports and nurtures our young people to be robust and active contributors, to be citizens in the here and now - not just when they graduate - and to make a positive difference in our world through their engagement, action and contribution,” she added.
Authentic partnerships and projects form the centrepiece of The Studio School’s education experience. To facilitate the focus on project-based learning each student is partnered with industry and community mentors to engage in projects in the real world: solving a problem or answering a complex question.
“The Studio School team would love to hear from community, business and industry leaders who may wish to partner with The Studio School on mutually-beneficial outcomes.”
To learn more about how you can partner with The Studio School, please visit https://www.thestudioschool.wa.edu.au/
*VUCA: volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous