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A creative and academically rigorous learning program

In 2016, Woodleigh launched a document titled A Focus on Future which set out the strategic direction of the school for the next five years. The document aimed to build upon the history of the school and guide planning, decision-making and practice in relation to its future development. A Focus on Future set out five strategic priorities, along with a related set of goals, covering such areas as student learning, wellbeing and infrastructure development. This year marks a significant milestone with this work, as we enter into a review of progress and achievement over the past five years and begin the process of engaging with the community for the development of our next strategic plan.

One of the core strategic priorities set out in the document was the strengthening of our learning programs, with the development of an articulated, whole school approach to teaching and learning identified as an important goal. In working towards this end, the school undertook a year-long stakeholder engagement process in 2017. The inquiry engaged students, parents and staff from all three campuses via a variety of forums including focus groups, workshops, surveys and interviews. The process helped identify the strengths of the school’s approach to teaching and learning, areas for improvement, and opportunities for further innovation. 

An important outcome from this inquiry was the development of the school’s 5 Elements model. The model captures the key areas that stakeholders saw as being at the heart of a Woodleigh Education: Real-world Learning, Student Agency, Well-being and Engagement, Feedback and Reflection, and the development of Capabilities for Living and Learning. A distinguishing feature of the Elements is the way they connect to the foundational principles for the design of the school, while also providing direction for its further development. In this way, the Elements have offered an invaluable reference point in recent years for our strategic planning, decision-making and action.

Another important outcome from the inquiry was the recommendation for the school to explore the alignment and suitability of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary and Middle Years Programmes. A feasibility study was conducted in the second half of 2017 by a cross-campus team of teachers and school leaders, with the programmes being found to fit well with the school’s vision for its future development. Critically, the programmes were seen to offer a shared framework for the design of teaching and learning from early childhood into secondary school. The school received recognition from the IB as a candidate school in 2018 and formally began the process of introducing the programmes with staff in 2019. 

In 2021, Woodleigh School will be submitting applications for authorisation to the IB for the Primary and Middle Years Programmes. This step is the final stage in the process prior to receiving formal approval from the IB to offer these programs. The IB authorisation process has provided support and international benchmarks for the ongoing development of learning at the school. Significantly, the completion of this process later in the year will also provide assurance for the community that our curriculum is rigorous and comprehensive, and promotes curiosity, independence and inquiry. We look forward to reaching this important milestone later in the year, and are thankful to the students, teachers and parents who have supported the journey along the way.

DR Richard Owens
Director of Learning, Strategy and Innovation