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In our re-endorsed strategic plan, we have made a clear commitment to The Knox School being acknowledged as a centre of excellence in the design and implementation of Personalised Learning. As our Principal Mr Shaw explains in his article, TKS will be recognised as a place where our young people thrive and where adults support them, explicitly model their own commitment to ongoing learning. An authentic, engaged and vibrant learning community.

This is not a new road for TKS; indeed, we have been on this journey for several years, exploring best practice and developing innovative pedagogies. So, what exactly is Personalised Learning, and where can we see this in action at TKS?

2020 taught us many things, and lots of them were positive. We have demonstrated our community has the skill set to adapt to our Home Campus model and the resilience to approach challenges as part of the fabric of learning. Not only that but what emerged was significant collective growth; the confidence, independence and agility of our students was extraordinary and something we committed to harnessing within our future Personalised Learning frameworks.

One such example is The Cube, a trans-disciplinary learning model that sits within the electives model in Year 9. There is no denying the world needs global action to mitigate climate change and social injustices. This program empowers our students to foster an awareness of social justice and global citizenship by focusing on the affective skills of collaboration, critical thinking, communication, and creativity and the essential dispositions of character competency development and contribution – referred to within our community as the 6Cs.

Through the experience of The Cube, our students not only become aware of global issues and identify patterns of social injustice, but are equipped with the essential skills needed to become self-sufficient learners who advocate for change, contribute towards potential solutions and support communities to thrive.

With over 25 different electives within The Cube program, our students have autonomy over which subject aligns with their interests and individual skill development. While some electives focus on issues at a global level, others are more local. Similarly, some electives’ focus may be a social issue, while others may be political or environmental.

The scope is vast and varied to allow all students, regardless of interest or ability, to engage with pertinent real-world issues and build towards exploring and designing real-world outcomes, a fundamental part of becoming a global citizen.

With such choice comes responsibility; our students are supported by their Mentors, who build their personalised pathway to target their areas of interest and individual skill development. At TKS, we acknowledge that life is not always linear, and one size does not always fit all; The Cube really does allow our students to choose their own adventure, building pathways and programs that are engaging and meaningful.

With alternative pathways comes alternative ways of measuring – in other words, how do we track the growth and development of each student as they progress through their program? Each elective within The Cube measures individual growth in skills, not in grades, and has been designed to offer frameworks for students to develop within the competencies of the 6Cs individually. By the end of the year, students can complete four of the electives and thus build up a personalised portfolio of skills and competencies. Each portfolio will be unique in that it is the product of the individual and their journey through The Cube. Learning outcomes will not necessarily be reported by a letter or a number but instead will be captured with tangible examples of real-world learning, targets set, and goals achieved, curated by the student and authorised by the teacher—a visual representation of active learning growth.

Content within The Cube is agentic in that it is co-constructed with the students and is not fixed by the teacher from the outset. This allows our students to take ownership of the roadmap of their own learning, set targets, and define individualised outcomes for success, allowing them to achieve their personal best. As the facilitator of the learning experience, the teacher ensures the structures for growth are in place, but the architecture and agency is firmly with the students.

Observing students working in partnership with our educators, co-designing learning and collaborating as their new norm is a privilege for us all and one that we have an imperative to uphold as we consider the design of our new learning landscape.

At TKS, we are mindful that the future of our tomorrow is in the hands of the students of today. Therefore, we are commited to an authentic development of sustainable and transferable skills and competencies which will allow our students to confidently become the agents of care, change and support the world needs.

At TKS, “going back to….” Is not a part of our discourse; co-designing our collective future is the narrative we commit to explore.

Nikki Kirkup

Nikki Kirkup is Deputy Principal of The Knox School

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