Child Side School operates in learning clusters based around well researched developmental learning phases across the span of childhood (the research includes the term “children” as spanning across from 0-18 years of age). From 2017, in addition to our playgroup 0-3 years, ECC Early Childhood Clusters K-Year 3 and the MCC Middle Childhood Cluster Years 4-6, the YAC Young Adolescent Cluster became operational for years 7-10 so that families could access the same approach to education from K-10 before enrolling in the senior high school years at Manea Senior College.
Young Adolescent Cluster YAC Introduction
Background: The YAC Young Adolescent Cluster caters for years 7-10. In 2017 it was formalised from the prior FLA (Family Learning Association 2010-2016) model as part of our long-term sustainability approach and at the request of long term Child Side families wishing for continuity and cohesion of practice and philosophy under the school umbrella. This was particularly relevant when Year 7s were mandated by the Federal government to be part of a secondary school setting rather than a primary school setting. The FLA model of aligned Big Picture Education principles and practices enabled long term Child Siders to successfully transition to Manea Senior College for Years 11 and 12 and into their self-selected worlds of sport, work, tertiary study well prepared to achieve their goals. Child Side families wanted their child to have the opportunity to be cared for and cared about as an individual through the vulnerable years of change and transition through adolescence where the body, brain and self-identity are experiencing rapid changes and growth. Child Side families want to stay connected educationally to their young adolescent and remain part of the village that helps them raise their child well through the exciting yet challenging time of becoming a teenager in a very complex world. The FLA model was highly successful, and these children were well received and very well prepared to face the next stage of their education and their lives outside of school.
The YAC approach is designed around the Big Picture Education Australia BPEA principles and practices where learning is approached as a continuous life long process and one that promotes ‘education as everyone’s business’. It is contextualised to the Child Side approach where our intentional learning culture of personalised learning within a community of learners is developed through intellectual interactions and collaboratively constructed knowledge, skills and values based around the vision of equal dignity and resilience. This is a very well researched, carefully considered approach to education not an opt out nor an adhoc, random, bits and pieces approach to fill in the gaps.
BPEA approach develops personal accountability along with ethical work place protocols, skills and knowledge that enable learners to operate in the complex 21st Century world. YACs are immersed in real-world situations as much as possible and the WA Curriculum is unpacked with learners across all curriculum areas through an integrated approach. Families are part of this learning process through contributing as Living Books, engaging with termly Exhibitions of Learning, Leaving School to Learn experiences, LTi (Learning Through interest) long term investigation projects and Annual Portfolios.
YACs have access to a continuity educator, who is a long-term Child Side educator and who along with the school leadership team provide the cornerstone for embedding and delivering the Child Side learning culture, the shape of the day, the BPEA learning cycle approach of Plan, Act, Reflect and key BPEA practices and protocols such as integrated reflective learning, individual LTi investigation projects, exhibitions of learning, leaving school to learn, Living Books, annual portfolios of learning. These open up the world and create opportunities for learners to explore and connect beyond academic rigor and help make the WA Curriculum K-10 Outline purposeful and relevant. These BPEA learning processes and accountability structures ensure that there is nowhere to hide nor slip through the cracks un-noticed. Learners have a very active voice in their education and are crew, not passengers, in their education process.
YAC educators enable developmentally appropriate learning strategies and processes relevant to the young adolescent phase. YACs also have access to other educators and experts/living books to engage with subject specific curriculum such as The Arts, Languages, Maths and Science, Physical Education and Health. They have access to working in their own defined space within the school and across the school such as in the outdoor science lab and kitchen garden Bountiful Backyard, the Imagine Lab in the HUB and in the community and local environment. YAC snippets of learning continue to be made visible, along with the ECC and MCC as part of our whole school communication, on the digital sharing platform ‘Story Park’, accessible to enrolled families.
Click on this link LTi to view an example of a LTi investigation project (Learning Through interest) and how children engage with the world through developing their ideas and skills.
YAC BYOD Bring Your Own Devices:
Experience from other schools in this technology rich world is to empower and engage adolescent learners with access to technology that works, that is familiar to them and that families have access to and responsibility for (access to browser history, access to their work in order to engage and converse together, access in order to keep technology up to date and relevant with constantly changing upgrading of apps, software, spyware and hardware). Young adolescents tend to take more responsibility when it is their own device and at their own/family cost and tend to engage in more protective on-line behaviours if accessed by parents. Personally owned technology is far more user friendly and kept up to date and responsive than school based technology and system networking. The opportunity to access and store inappropriate material is reduced if only one person is accessing the laptop and is responsible for its content and history. This increases personal responsibility and reduces the potential for inadvertently viewing materials sourced by others that may be deemed harmful (protective behaviours). It also greatly improves time management and organisation if only one person accesses each laptop and each learner knows where their work is stored.
In order to research, communicate, store and access their own work YACs will need their own:
- Laptop preloaded with the required software programmes-see YAC educator
- power cord
- headphones or earbuds