Single Year level Classrooms ~ 2017
Victorian Curriculum : For the past 15 months the school has organised its classroom structure to the single year curriculum model.
The Victorian Schools Curriculum lends itself better to single level teaching structures. The curriculum is much more involved and explicit about what students need to achieve in each single each level (rather than over a 2 year cycle) than it used to be. For example with Year 1/2 Grammar/Writing, the new curriculum has a major emphasis on parts of speech (nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc.) and the intricacies of writing sentences at Year 1. Students need explicit teaching at the sentence level during writing lessons over the course of a year. On the other hand, the new curriculum for Year 2 emphasises that they start putting the sentences together to form paragraphs. Trying to fit content into one year if teaching multi age grouping means that teachers would have to spend 6 months focusing on each, then when the year 1’s move to year 2 they would have learnt about writing paragraphs, but now be expected to go back to learn about sentences because the new Year 1’s need that knowledge first. Single year level classes will address this dilemma across all areas of the curriculum. We will be able to focus longer and more explicitly on core curriculum at a single year level, making sure they understand it rather than trying to rush them on for the sake of the older year level. The guiding principles remain the same: developmentally-appropriate, child-centred, inquiry based and authentic learning programs for today's students, tomorrow's adults.
Staff planning continues in occur in teams. The single year structure of classes consolidate our practice of teachers working in teams as we plan and implement classroom programs. With a larger team involved, we are able to more fully take advantage of the many talents of our team members. The close partnership between teachers allow for interaction between classes, so that children are able to work both formally and informally with an increased number of sympathetic adults. Children benefit from seeing how adults work in teams in the real world of work.
We recognise that students have different needs and the best way to meet them is to deliver the content that is aimed at where the student is, rather than aiming somewhere in the middle and then trying to differentiate from there. Currently, students with additional needs / low ability levels have been supported in literacy and numeracy ‘pull out of classroom’ programs. In the planned single year level classes, these students will benefit both from an academic and psycho/social perspective; as would high ability/extension students as teachers will more easily focus more on what the students at that age are meant to know, and really teach that well so that children consolidate their learning and then spend time in extending their understandings and be engaged in challenging and personalised learning. Additional pull out support programs will be modified and continue to feature in our school wide curriculum model.
In the current climate we are required to use a great deal of resilience building along with the challenge of developing students' emotional intelligence. We have children who come from single parent or blended families for whom school needs to be both a nurturing place and offer chances to interact with children of varying ages. These corsage relationships are vital for children's development of cooperative skills and tolerance of diversity.
Teachers generally operate programs where they cater for a broad range of abilities and maturity development, and single year level classes lesson the 'range'. The single year structure offers more social confidence, in that children are not trying to compete with older children as they cross the levels P to 1, 2 to 3 and 4 to 5 especially.
We believe that the positives of single year level classes outweigh any disadvantages and the intent is to maintain our team structures for staff which features level teams working together effectively to support student learning.
We strive continuously to achieve the common goals we have set in pursuit of our vision to provide an innovative and progressive learning environment that engages, challenges and extends the learning capacity of all students. This 'quest' is supported by the cooperation and commitment of our School Council, our parents and all of our staff members. Our success is based on this common purpose. Please feel free to respond with your thoughts about our 'classroom structures' at Eltham North Primary School.