Head of Learning Enrichment

ELEVATE: agile design for high potential learners

The ELEVATE program comes at a time when there is considerable interest, both nationally and internationally, in reshaping schooling to optimise the strengths of all learners. ELEVATE utilises disciplined innovation methods and the collective efficacy of educators to respond to the apparent underperformance of Australia’s top students.  As Professor John Hattie (Board Chair AITSL, 2015) states, “Evidence strongly suggests that the most capable students in Australian schools are being insufficiently challenged. It’s an unfortunate phenomenon that’s called ‘coasting’ and it’s reflected in the flattening of the achievement profile of Australian students at the top end, as indicated in multiple international surveys from the OECD.” In fact, national and international research and assessment shows that the top 40 per cent of Australian learners are underperforming.

ELEVATE has been initiated by AISNSW and amplified by strategic partnerships with the UK-based Innovation Unit, and the Australian Institute of Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL). Loreto successfully applied for inclusion in this innovative program to join with 15 other schools nationwide.

I have been fortunate enough to be involved in this multi-year program of work alongside Elizabeth Green, Knowledge and Learning Strategist, Carol Osborne, Director of Professional Learning, Elizabeth Cranfield, Ecology Co-ordinator and Science teacher and Melissa Clancy, Mathematics teacher. An appealing element of this project is the focus on individual school context, and not a one-size-fits-all approach. Each school specifically tailors their program to meet the needs of their students.

This innovation program will continue to support Loreto Normanhurst to collaboratively design and implement powerful practices to lift learning outcomes for high potential learners. Through our teams’ research into current school practices including ethnographic research, honing in on our ‘Promising Practices’ and the development of a ‘Case for Change’, we gained insights into the very high standard of teaching practices seen throughout the school. Rather than being self-satisfied and complacent, we decided to work with the motto ‘too good not to be better.’ After all isn’t this what we are always trying to teach our students?

ELEVATE supports educators to innovate and re-design learning and create meaningful opportunities that will equip learners to embrace their future with confidence. Our initial focus has been to advance the conversation on designing and implementing practices to address the learning needs of high potential learners. The ELEVATE program utilises robust design thinking, methods and processes to enhance our practice. The design of this program promotes a form of creativity that encourages deliberate, planned innovation built on a foundation of research through informed professional wisdom.

Realising the five goals of the ELEVATE program will help ensure learners have the support and opportunities to reach their highest potential. The five goals are:

  1. Leaders creating the conditions that enable a shift towards more powerful and effective teaching and learning experiences for high potential learners embedded throughout the school.
  2. Teachers having the confidence, competence and agility to reshape practices for their context and improve the evidence base to enhance achievement, wellbeing and engagement of high potential learners.
  3. Emergence of curriculum and pedagogic designs that are responsive to pace, depth and level of complexity for high potential learners, creating challenges and opportunities to achieve excellence and become further motivated.
  4. Assessment practices and data literacy sharpened to inform the design of optimal learning experiences that meet and extend curriculum opportunities and amplify impact with high potential learners.
  5. Participating schools successfully using a basket of measures to monitor effectively the progress and growth of high potential learners.

It continues to be an exciting process working alongside a team of inspiring educators. The future looks bright for our Loreto girls and there is no better feeling for a teacher than seeing all students reach their full potential whilst instilling in them a love of learning.

 

Ms Zoe Rhone

Head of Learning Enrichment