Learning Areas

Overview

Tallangatta Secondary college has operated a vertically aligned curriculum structure since 1979 (Vertical Modular Grouping - VMG). It has an integrated transition program for semester one of year seven, a vertically grouped middle school where students from years 7 (second Semester) to year 10 elect semester or term length units from 8 subject Discipline Learning Areas at two levels of difficulty. Several Domains of the Victorian Essential Learning Standards (VELS) are integrated in and reported on in all units. In the later years students select units from Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE), Vocational Education and Training (VET) and Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL). Students can select VET units from year nine onwards and VCE units from year 10 onwards. VCAL is offered to years 11 and 12 as a whole program, however students may also select VCE units as part of their VCAL certificate course.
 
Tallangatta Secondary College is renowned for its VMG structure which has been in place since 1979 and has evolved to incorporate all government curriculum reviews and reorganisations including VCE, Curriculum & Standards Framework (CSF), VCAL, VET and now Victorian Essential Learning Standards (VELS).
This structure has enabled flexibility and choices to be a hallmark of the school's curriculum over more than 25 years.

Organisation

All classes at all levels are five periods per week. A period is 42 minutes. Each class is timetabled to include two double periods and one single period each week. These occur across three days. There are seven periods per day.

The entire timetable is vertically aligned. VMG (Vertical Modular Groupings) is a curriculum organisation where subjects are allocated to 7 timetable blocks which are repeated throughout the week. Every class is 5 periods. It is possible for students from year 7 - 12 to be in the same class or aligned at the same time without clashes and to cross year levels. This facilitates team teaching, cross age work, like-minded groupings with multi-aged classes, advancement and acceleration of students and Peer support programs.

Curriculum

Students in year seven Transition do a common semester-length integrated program (see below) but in second semester they join the middle school program where their entire subject choice is elective within guidelines of course balance across the Learning Areas.

 
In Middle School, Student must choose Maths and English (thematically-based units) each semester. They are expected to choose a balance of other learning areas by the end of year 10. Increasingly, under VELS, subject areas are being integrated. TSC emphasises applied and authentic learning.
 
Students can enrol in VET classes from year nine, and VCE or VCAL units from year 10. This allows managed individual pathways to include vocational placements in year 10 and 11 as well as giving students opportunities to experience VCE Units as soon as they are ready and provides and extension pathway for talented students. Students are able to gain a wide range of VCE/VCAL units by the end of year 12.
 

Course Selection


Students choose courses - assisted by Home Group teachers - each semester. A provisional course selection takes place then clashes, issues of demand, balanced curriculum and staffing are investigated, the curriculum offering adjusted and a final course selection sheet produced. A further course selection process occurs. Students spend the equivalent of 4 periods (in two different sessions) in the course selection process. Parents are asked to sign and discuss the courses selected by their children. Information evenings are held to assist students and parents in making appropriate choices.

Student courses are individually monitored by Home Group teachers and the student management team for appropriate choices, positive relationships, learning support and extension. Students can accelerate in specific areas (eg Maths) with teacher recommendation or by application.

It is rare that two students will have identical courses and even more rare that a group will be the same in two different classes (unless there is a specific program like Personal Best or Boys' Own).

 

Transition program


The year seven Transition semester is an integrated program where teachers work in teams to plan together and integrate curriculum areas. An open learning space facilitates team teaching and learning:
Culture and Communication (CC - 10 periods) integrates English, Humanities - Geography, LOTE (Indonesian) and Peer Support with year 10 students who also work as in-class literacy support during term 2. Themes and novel study are based around Indonesia.
Life’s Good (LG - 10 periods) integrates Science, Health, PE, Sport Education (including year 10 and 11 Sports leaders) where themes address the PE/Sport program. For example, water in term 1 and Energy in term 2
Maths (5 periods) where the themes of the LG program and CC program may be used as an overall project theme. Entry data and assessment of skills against the Scaffolding Numeracy Framework is used to group students for first semester. The focus of first semester is to consolidate Number skills.
Arts (5 periods) where students do a term of Performing Arts (integrating Drama and Music) and a term of Visual Arts (integrating Visual Communication and Art)
Technology (5 periods) where students select two of Food, Wood, Textiles and ICT.
All students commence a Digital portfolio which builds on their Primary school Passport (paper portfolio) and establishes the foundation for later portfolio work
An orientation camp at Eden (usually in week 3 or 4 of term one) also provides a rich vehicle for curriculum integration and student bonding as a group. This camp includes year 10 Peer support leaders.
 

Special Programs


Personal Best (PB) at Year nine.
In analysing our own data in 2000, we recognised that year 9 was a major area of concern for us since the trend towards reduced interest and reduced joy in learning at year nine nationally was consistent amongst our students. Hence this year level became the starting point for specific curriculum improvement.
The Personal Best Certificate (which now has Dr Fiona Wood and formerly General Peter Cosgrove as its patron) has been offered to year nine students for second Semester since 2001 and provides the opportunity to work in teams on specific projects based both within the college and within the community. Students complete eight modules which emphasise individual growth and personal development as well as significant achievement in practical and transferable skill areas.

    Community Service
    Personal Development
    Beliefs and Values
    Health
    New Skill
    Expedition or Event
    Communication (including production of a web page portfolio)

· Relationships and Peer Dynamics

Each student belongs to a Mentoring group of up to five students and a volunteer teacher which meets for one period per week.

The program is staffed by a team of teachers who share the overall monitoring and facilitation of student projects as well as some explicit teaching of processes.

All projects must be implemented although many learning experiences occur through projects which are not immediately successful. Reflection on learning from projects is the measure of success as well as any products or outcomes which may occur.

Students take “Personal Best” in 3 of their 7 blocks – the remaining 4 blocks will offer level 2 units as has traditionally been the case. Mathematics is compulsory and all other pathways can be maintained as students choose. The PB program can be negotiated as credit for other Learning area requirements, depending on the nature of the projects chosen by the students. Many of the skills of English will be incorporated in the Personal Best program, however students are recommended to choose an English unit as well as PB to maintain their text studies.


Boys’ Education

A Boys’ Ed program was initiated in 2004. It focuses on year nine boys in first semester and includes year 8 boys in second semester – where a need is obvious. This program includes literacy, numeracy, Heath and Physical Education and a project-based approach. Personal development, self-awareness and positive group development are emphasised within the program. Students spend 20 periods within the program for first semester and choose three other classes from the Middle school program at level one. The second semester program is negotiated for individual students. Teachers in the program work as a team. The second semester program is aligned with PB and students may work together on projects.

Future Directions at year 10

Work education, planning for the future, civic education, academic and vocational planning are all built into a year long program, (five periods per week) called Future Directions for all year 10 students. This program is delivered by a team of teachers and includes the Later Years Team leaders and work education coordinator who is also the VCAL coordinator. Students’ courses for year 10 and for year 11 are monitored and course counselling is integrated into this class.


Digital Portfolios

All students in years 7 – 9 are developing and documenting their learning with digital portfolios which include a thematic approach to reflection on learning.
Eg, in year 7 - me as a friend; me as a team player; me as a learner.
Year 8 - Extending boundaries; my community; my learning; changing me.
Year 9 - responsibility, community service, planning and organisation, leadership

 

VCE/VET and VCAL

There is an extensive offering in the post compulsory years. (Currently 60 units operate at this level) VCAL is offered to students who have decided that they are unlikely to pursue a university education at this stage and prefer a vocationally oriented education. VET classes ( Hospitality, Sport and Recreation, Furnishings, Information Technology, Automotive) are also offered as part of both VCE and VCAL.
 

A Pathways approach

Tallangatta Secondary College is committed to providing a meaningful individualised pathway for every student. Student choice is a guiding tenet of the curriculum as is provision of relevant and flexible options for all students. We emphasise the importance of building positive relationships in learning as the underpinning foundation for continuous improvement of learning.
Technical And Further Education (TAFE) certificate course are also built in to several programs as part of the Managed Individual Pathways (MIPs) approach. This includes Welding, Childcare, hairdressing and beauty, and several short courses in hospitality-related areas. This connection with TAFE is growing as part of our Authentic Learning approach as a Leading School. We have adapted the School-based New apprenticeship model to employ students in Asset Maintenance, Computer Network Management, Office Assistance and Environmental Management within the college and shared with the local government and hospital as well as in various roles in the wider farming, hospitality, health and retail employment community. These students work for the college at the same time as completing academic and vocational studies as students of the college.
 

Responsiveness to local needs and data

Our semester unit-based curriculum has the flexibility to respond to local needs and student demand. For example safety on Motorcycles was an issue several years ago when accident data showed that each year serious injury was occurring as a result of off-road bike accidents. With the support of local police and motorcycle educators we introduced “ Motorbikes 1 and 2”, a set of units which provided instruction in safe riding and associated maintenance and curriculum topics focused on motorcycling. Other units have developed in a similar way.
 
Tallangatta Secondary College publishes the fortnightly community newspaper; this is a project which uses student as journalists, editors and in production and layout. Students produce the weekly college newsletter and the annual college magazine, they run the school cafeteria, they manage and coach all sporting teams, they organise all school socials, manage all fund raising, and initiate special projects as the need arises.

 

Enterprise Education and Quality Learning

As the examples described above demonstrate, the philosophies and approaches of Enterprise Education and Quality Learning (though not necessarily referred to by those terms) underpin the growth of our curriculum approaches. We endeavour to work with our students to improve their learning rather than to do things to or for students which would be learning opportunities if they do them themselves. We seek authentic learning experiences at all levels of the program.
 
 

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