Visible and valued: a 'stage not age' approach
At All Saints’ College, we strive to ensure every community member feels visible and valued: known and appreciated for who they are - their skills, talents, passions and aspirations. As a result, we support the notion of a ‘stage not age’ approach to young people’s learning: students are neither held back from progressing their learning merely because of age, nor forced ahead at an inappropriate pace. Rather, All Saints' students are given the opportunity to exercise choice according to their skills and talents, passions and aspirations.
While recognising the various requirements of a mandated curriculum, at All Saints’ we see the personalisation of learning as a moral imperative that addresses the academic and wellbeing needs of each young person, giving them choice, voice and agency by encouraging them to be the co-designers of their learning.
Such personalisation of learning commences at the start of each child’s journey at our College. In the Early Learning Centre, our staff are trained to see and respond to the whole child - their interests, abilities and unique nature.
We tailor the program based on the interests of our young people and collect the responses and observable data from students for future planning. By truly listening to our students, and using routines to make visible their thinking, staff gain the insight necessary to help personalise our students’ learning journey at the College. While such personalised learning occurs in each class, we also tailor the curriculum across year levels to meet a child’s unique needs, while also linking learning to partner organisations and networks beyond the College.
During a student’s journey through Junior School, they can choose from a wide range of ‘Passion Projects’ in the form of cocurricular and specialist programs. This allows students to celebrate and complement their personal interests and strengths.
A ‘personalisable’ approach (which sees the student actively engaged in the personalisation process) is not only critical for academic reasons, but also for wellbeing reasons as students are empowered to have choice, are engaged, and achieve success – a far cry from the disengagement that can so often result from a ‘lock-step’ education system.
Esther Hill, the Director of Teaching and Learning and Director of Djoowak, the Beyond Boundaries Institute, at All Saints’ College explains how we make learning personalisable for our students
In the Senior School, flexible timetabling is another tool that helps us meet the needs of students who require extension, acceleration or just a different kind of program.
And such an approach is firmly-rooted in vast tracts of research. The most recent Gonski Report, for instance, emphasises the fact that developing ways to personalise learning for students so that they can work at, and achieve, their personal best while at school will feature in ‘future schools’.
In addition, the work of Professor Yong Zhao, Jan Owen AM, Ron Ritchhart, Michael Fullan and Sir Ken Robinson, amongst others, supports the shift to personalised learning.
In The Mitchell Report, personalised learning is described as:
“…the opportunity for students to take control of their learning experience toward the development of skills to direct and advocate for their own education."
“Personalised learning is distinct from other related terms, such as ‘differentiated’ and ‘individualised’ learning, because personalised learning is student (ie learner) centred, with students as active participants and ‘designers’ or ‘co-designers’ of their learning, and able to demonstrate and assess their learning."
“In differentiated and individualised learning, teachers are the designers of the instruction, monitoring and assessment of student learning.”
As a College aiming to cater for the learning needs of each individual student, therefore, we strive to:
- create structures that support personalised learning pathways;
- create a consistent learning model that connects with our Pedagogical Statement;
- develop models for using blended learning/ online learning;
- ensure that our personalised and blended learning models have collaboration at their core;
- support our staff in their work as teams to create centres for excellence for staff and students.
This approach is just some of the focus of the College’s Djoowak: the Beyond Boundaries Institute (BBI). For more information on this and other initiatives being undertaken, please visit