I have heard that Mordialloc College has Learning Centres in Years 7 and 8. What exactly is a Learning Centre?
A Learning Centre is a purpose built, highly technologically resourced building that includes a combination of different spaces, including private study or classroom areas, larger open spaces to accommodate individual, group and team learning and specialised resource areas for literacy, numeracy, science, humanities, art and personal and social learning.
Learning Centres stimulate and reward students by giving them more power, control, flexibility and responsibility over their own learning in a highly structured and supportive environment. Mordialloc students recognise that they are acquiring the significant life skills of planning, responsibility and organisation while receiving quality education.
Since the Learning Centre model is so flexible it suits all types of learners. It provides an excellent transition from primary school because the majority of students’ time is spent in the Learning Centre with a team of teachers who they get to know very well. Each student has a Family Guide who has particular responsibility for them and there is a very experienced teacher in charge of each Centre.
Parents who currently have students in Years 7 and 8 at Mordialloc have commented very positively on the Learning Centres.
‘I am extremely impressed with the atmosphere in here and the independence and responsibility the kids are learning. Excellent!’
‘Our child is extremely happy and the teachers are very caring and dedicated. We are more than pleased!’
It has been wonderful to see young people, who might sometimes have been thought of as shy or disorganised, confidently discussing their learning with the numerous visitors the school hosts, who come from other Victorian schools and also from other parts of Australia and even from overseas.
We recognise that, while conventional teaching methods have their place, they do not always produce the best results. Students need to learn the skill of how to learn. We strive to teach this skill early in their secondary schooling and to continue developing it as students progress through the College.
Current educational research indicates that traditional closed classroom learning does not encourage students and teachers to build strong, productive relationships. This is essential for students to maximise their learning.
Yes they do. All government schools must implement the Victorian Essential Learning Standards. The difference is that students are able to use the skills and knowledge they learning in these programs in a wider variety of ways, which helps them to make sense of what they are learning and demonstrate their learning and thinking in greater depth.
Team teaching refers to the fact that a group of teachers effectively work together with specific groups of students. Each teacher has their own designated group of students that they are responsible for. However, as a team they share the same work space and bring their individual expertise to the wider year level program, as well as developing supportive teaching relationships with all the students in the larger group.
This team of teachers also learns from each other and shares and builds best practice together, ensuring that students have access to the highest quality learning experiences possible. The team within each Learning Centre is carefully balanced to include teachers with expertise in a wide variety of subjects.
Each student has one teaching member of the team, known as their Family Guide, who closely monitors and assesses their work on a far more regular basis than was previously possible in a traditional secondary program. As a result, students receive critical feedback about their learning more often.
The teachers’ improved ability to closely monitor learning, and thus set individual challenges, builds student learning confidence and motivation. Many opportunities exist for Year 7 and 8 students to participate in competitions. Recently, students have experienced success in events as diverse as interschool debating and the 24 Challenge Maths Tournament.
Within the Learning Centres, Mordialloc College aims to keep the same team of teachers together throughout the year to ensure that the students have very little disruption. However, the students participate in specialist subjects outside the Learning Centres and those subjects and, therefore, the teachers change each semester.
Do the students still have specialist classes? Where are these classes held? What about extra curricular activities?
All students participate in a wide range of specialist subjects outside the Learning Centres including French, Food, Wood, Plastics, Fabrics, Art, Sport, Performing Arts and PE. Due to the nature of the rooms in which specialist classes are conducted, students are in the same size grouping as a traditional class (25 or less).
In addition students are able to get involved in many extra curricula learning experiences, such as College performances, student leadership, debating, instrumental music, cross country, athletics and swimming events. Year 7 and 8 students featured prominently in the cast and crew of After the Thunder – Mordialloc College’s grand final winning entry in the 2008 Rock Eisteddfod.
Students regularly receive Numeracy homework and will often have special homework set by their Family Guide. They are involved in learning tasks continually which means that students can, and should be, working on current school work at all times. All the learning tasks are available on the College’s intranet. Each student is expected to have a portable memory stick so that material can be transferred between the laptop computers available in the Learning Centres and home.
The teacher to student ratio varies in the Learning Centres, but is always lower than in traditional classroom settings so students have more access to teachers.
I am worried about my child moving from primary to secondary school. What is done at Mordialloc College to help new students settle in?
The transition process at Mordialloc is very carefully planned. A lot of time is spent at the beginning of the year familiarising the students with the school in general and the Year 7 Learning Centre in particular. There is also a major focus on students getting to know each other and their team of teachers.
Year 7 students have exclusive access to a large paved and grassed area just outside the Learning Centre. At recess and lunchtime this is a hive of activity as Year 7 students play ball games or sit and chat with their friends. Their lockers are also located in this area.
$1.75 million dollars has been spent to create state of the art Learning Centres at Mordialloc College. Students have easy access to laptop computers which are configured for wireless internet. There are also fixed and portable digital projectors and electronic whiteboards in each Learning Centre. Specially designed ‘wet areas’ enable the students to do Science experiments, or build models without leaving the area.
Both Learning Centres have libraries consisting of non-fiction and fiction books at appropriate skill and interest levels which have been specifically selected for their relevance to the curriculum. Students can access these books freely and spend several sessions each week doing silent reading.
When the Learning Centres were first developed there were some problems with noise. However, these have been addressed by the installation of extensive sound absorbing material in both centres and the noise level has significantly lessened. There are also quiet spaces which are separated from the main body of the Learning Centres. We believe that 21st Century learning is active and that discussing and interacting are vital components of the process. The students develop finely tuned concentration skills which are essential at university as well as when they enter the workforce. Visitors to the centres often remark how focussed the students are on their learning.
What feedback have you got from the students who are currently in Year 7 and 8 at Mordialloc College?
We have just received outstanding results in the 2008 Attitudes to School Survey. This is an annual survey carried out by the Education Department and undertaken by every government secondary school student in Victoria. By responding positively to questions such as, ‘My teachers really want to help me learn’, ‘My teachers help me to do my best’, ‘This school is preparing students well for their future’, I feel positive/cheerful/relaxed/happy/energised at school’, ‘Doing well in school is very important to me’ and ‘I get on really well with most of my classmates’ the students showed how much they are enjoying the Learning Centres.
It was also very pleasing to see how safe and secure the students said they felt at Mordialloc. Their responses to questions designed to determine the extent they felt safe and confident were extremely positive. The students also reported that their learning was rarely interfered with because of poor behaviour by other students.
My child is a high achiever. I have heard of Select Entry Accelerated Learning (SEAL ) program at Mordialloc College. How do I find out more about it?
The SEAL program has been running at Mordialloc since 1997. Students who are academically able complete the first four years of secondary schooling in three years. The SEAL program differs from the mainstream program in a number of ways including:
- A faster paced curriculum
- More advanced and complex tasks
- Greater emphasis on higher order thinking skills
- Increased opportunities for problem solving and creativity
An entrance exam is held for Grade 6 students interested in joining the program. Please contact the SEAL Coordinator at the College on 9580 1184 for further information.
I would like my son to attend a particular school but some of his friends are going elsewhere and he wants to go with them. What should I do?
Although it is important to take your son’s wishes into consideration, we recommend you enrol him in the school which you believe will best meet his educational needs. Our experience has shown us that students often change their friendship groups once they start secondary school, even if they arrive with friends from primary school. Therefore the friendship factor may not be as crucial as you think.
Year 7 and 8 students at Mordialloc have the opportunity to develop close friendships with a larger number of students than in traditional classrooms because of the Learning Centre structure. There is an emphasis on working cooperatively in teams which equips them with essential skills for success in later life.
There is an Open Night in April each year which you are most welcome to attend. Information is distributed via our local primary schools and the event is advertised in the local press and on a sign at the front of the school.
Every Friday morning in Terms 2 and 3, one of the Assistant Principals leads a tour so that you can see the school in action. Please ring the College Office on 9580 1184 to reserve your place.
Enrolment applications for Year 7 are handled by the primary school. Enquiries at other year levels should be directed to the College Office.
Mordialloc College awards scholarships of significant value to Grade 6 students who demonstrate high level academic, sporting or music ability and/or leadership qualities.
These scholarships are awarded on the basis of an interview which is attended by a parent or guardian as well as the child. Please contact the College Office for further information.