Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Day 2 - Brisbane Water Secondary College - Woy Woy Campus

Change of plan today - the DP of the school I was going to visit was ill and the rest of the management team were tied up planning meetings for most of the day. Instead I went with Sara Matthews from AIE  http://www.aie.edu.au/ to Woy Woy -  http://www.woywoy-h.schools.nsw.edu.au/  - a public school also about an hours drive north east of Sydney. Our trip was slightly delayed due to our car being tail ended by a rental car just out of Turramurra! Not much damage to Sara's vehicle, but Yaris that hit us did not look good! 

Brisbane Water Senior Campus - Woy Woy is at the opposite end of the spectrum from Barker College. The junior campus (on a nearby site - but with no shared facilities)  runs a more integrated approach to learning, with groups of tutors working around students. However this model is not continued through to the senior campus, largely, it seemed, due to the very prescriptive control of the Board of Studies (our NZQA). The vocational counselling team works hard to build relationships with students, in order for them to gain a meaningful qualification. 
The school is an 'equity access school' which means that the ATAR scores are somehow adjusted to reflect the special needs of the school community. A reasonable percentage of the students do not meet ATAR requirements due to the courses selected. The school offers a wide range of  TVET (vocational) course - where tertiary providers work in partnership with the school to provide high interest career pathways. All vocational courses run on Tuesday afternoons, and all students are able to take one of these, without affecting their ATAR (tertiary ranking system) results. 

The two impressive VET programmes  were the animation and game design courses provided by AIE and the prenursing/health delivered by TAFE. 

The nursing training facility is an impressive one, with mock beds, patients and with training  procedures carried out. The school has a high success rate -  one of the highest in the area - for these courses, especially amongst indigenous students. 5 of the last year's class went onto the nursing diploma course, and one into a Bachelor of nursing programme. The facility is one of the newest buildings on campus. This course attracts students to the school - which is a very positive outcome. 

The animation and game design courses are run through AIE - these are held in the Technology Futures
Block - which sounds grander than it was. While these courses do not contribute to the ATAR results, students do achieve a Level III certificate in Media. These courses require high spec machines capable of running programmes not usually available in schools. This year at least 3 students have gone into advanced diploma courses at the AIE campus in the city. Game design and programming is a growing field and these courses provide an amazing opportunity for Woy Woy students. 

A few years ago a Federal Govt policy (DER - digital education revolution) saw EVERY Year 9 student nationwide,  regardless of the wealth of school and community, being given a laptop for school use. This was to see them through to Yr 12. I was told that they were reasonably low spec, students and schools were unable to load extra programmes and that the cost of the infrastructure for and technical support of, grew exponentially!!!! This programme is no longer in place and in schools like Woy Woy, the one size fits all approach to technology integration, appears to have not had any great impact on engagement or academic outcomes. 

It was interesting to visit the school when a number of the vocational courses were running - and engagement was high across the groups of students. Like Barker College, the timetable wanted to create less disruption for classes. Assessment must be one of the next big conversations to address. Ranking schools and students must impact on how innovation and creativity develop in any school.  

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