Sunday, March 31, 2013

Combined 11/12 courses for Australian Curriculum

One of the surprising successes of the school has been the running of combined classes in 11 and 12.  It has been made clear that SCASA ("the authority") does not want this to continue with Australian Curriculum.  This was stated by teachers at the Swan Schools Conference that are part of math discussion groups with SCASA.

At the moment we can run 1BC / 1DE / 2AB / 2CD / 3AB / 3CD MAT, 3AB 3CD MAS and even PA/PB or 1A courses as needs arise with a high school cohort of 470.  With an even smaller cohort this year, this will need to be reconsidered but is manageable.

We can do this because if we have 10-15 students from yr 11 and 10-12 students from yr 12, we can combine them to make a reasonable sized class (except the end courses 1DE MAT or 3CD MAT or specialist courses 3ABCD which can run at around 10 because of the larger classes).  This structure provides differentiation for our students and has been effective.

If we could not run these combined yr 11/12 classes, specialist courses could not run having a detrimental effect on school marketing as an academic institution.  Furthermore combining year groups has had the surprising effect of exposing yr 11s to students that have adjusted to yr 11/12 workloads providing the level of mentoring that MAG classes always promised (but never really delivered) because the endpoint is actually evident and the drive to work harder has clear reward.  Using this method we have built our 3CD courses to 7-8 students, a respectable 12% of our yr 12 cohort (with MAT class averages over 60% close to state averages).

The school cannot run Australian Curriculum "Focus, Essentials/General, Methods and Specialist yr 11" with class sizes of 10-15 and "Focus, Essentials, Methods and Specialist yr 12" with classes of around 10.  It will not fit within a small school math department staffing profile. It's going from 8 courses with reasonable numbers to 8 courses where the spread of students is not even, requiring additional classes (this is only evident when student cohorts are put to courses during timetabling). Add to this the increased focus on the WACE numeracy test with management of students failing the test in year 10 and then passing the test in year 11 (thus making general course sizes variable), I see issues on the horizon.

Given that a reasonable number of schools are in this predicament due to boundary degradation, half cohorts, yr 7s in private schools, gentrification and a host of local reasons,  this will further degrade the offerings of small public schools, ultimately further reducing their competitiveness.

I hope this is a direction that SCASA will reconsider.

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