North Melbourne Primary School is enthusiastically committed to improving student learning outcomes and providing teaching approaches that meet the needs of all students; not just in words but in our actions.
How we teach must reflect how our students learn. It must also reflect the world our students will move into. This is a world which is rapidly changing, connected, adapting and evolving. Our style and approach to teaching must emphasise the learning in the 21st century.
One pedagogical approach to teaching and learning is inquiry learning. An inquiry learning approach encourages students to ask key questions for investigation.
Inquiry learning can take many forms, for example, integrated curriculum, issue/problem based, action led or negotiated. Inquiry is characterised by students:
- asking questions, building on prior knowledge and making their own discoveries
- finding out information from primary sources to answer generative questions and develop deep conceptual understandings
- making connections between ideas, learning domains and experiences.
The benefits of using an inquiry approach in each of the programs – (integrated, discipline/subject-based and extended) are significant because this approach:
- considers the connections across learning areas, as well as the way that individual students learn
- allows learning to be more relevant, as concepts are learned in context and relate to existing knowledge
- requires that content is relevant, integrating multiple aspects/concepts simultaneously
- assists in the management of a crowded curriculum as it combines a number of expected outcomes into rich assessment tasks whilst enabling skills to be developed in context and across domains
- provides students with meaningful links between activities, rather than jumping from ‘subject’ to ‘subject’ with little contextual relevance
- supports students to become autonomous learners.
Student interests, needs and questions inform teachers of the appropriate teaching and learning experiences that are required for particular cohorts of students and are central in the planning process.
This has implications for whole school planning. If, for example, narrowly defined and inflexible topics are defined for particular year levels, student interests, questions, prior knowledge, needs, findings and proposals may not be able to be taken into account during the planning, monitoring and implementation of units. The direction may not be flexible to respond to students and allow for the appropriate development of deep understandings, interdisciplinary skills and authentic action to be taken.
In late November 2013 the school leadership team conducted a rigorous school self-evaluation comparing results to targets set in 2010, after our last review.
The process of self-evaluation involves a comparison of all data across a range of areas over the strategic review period. This includes student achievement in areas such as literacy and numeracy based on teacher judgements and NAPLAN results; student attendance data and student engagement and well-being data.
Following the collation of this data a report is presented to a DEECD appointed, independent reviewer.
The full day consultation supports development of the next strategic plan, which will be drafted by the Executive Leadership Team for further consultation by staff and school council.
The 2014 -2017 Strategic Plan will direct future planning for teaching and learning across the school.
We are excited about the opportunity to consolidate our literacy and numeracy pedagogical approaches and enthusiastically support the development of our enhanced inquiry approach across other disciplines.