Learning and Teaching: increasing academic focus
Our educational philosophy at Northholm is based on the premise that every child is born with the capacity to learn and achieve. As such, our responsibility as educators is to foster academic achievement through excellent teaching and learning, an inclusive culture and the knowledge that every child has a right to our support.
To meet this obligation the School has implemented a range of strategies to cater for the different needs and capacities of students. These include a differentiated curriculum, specialised learning support and increasing opportunities to engage deeply in problem solving with real world application. Great emphasis is also placed on helping students identify realistic goals for their academic, social and spiritual development so they are well prepared for life beyond school.
Tutors meet regularly with students to discuss their progress in each of these areas and communicate with parents where there are concerns. This regular communication is a fundamental aspect of Northholm’s more personalised approach to education. Teachers pride themselves on their knowledge of individual students’ needs and provide a diverse range of learning experiences to accommodate the different learning styles and interests of students. This is reflected in our learning programs which provide explicit instruction in core skills and concepts as well as opportunities for students to engage in either guided inquiry or problem based learning as appropriate to their stage level.
Director of Learning and Teaching: Hadley Johnston
Hadley Johnston was appointed as Director of Learning and Teaching in 2011 after proving his capacity as a leader in a number of other leadership roles including Head of Rowland House and Academic Administration Coordinator. In role as Director of Learning and Teaching Mr Johnston oversees the academic program of the school from Years Seven to Twelve, in consultation with the Heads of Department. This very broad responsibility covers development of the curriculum, the appraisal of teaching staff, administrative matters relating to subject choices, the quality and timing of assessment and examinations, as well as academic progress and reporting. In recognition of his expertise in these roles Mr Johnston was recently invited to serve on the ISTAA Council (Independent Schools Teacher Accreditation Authority Council).
In the Junior School students study each of the subjects mandated by the Australian Curriculum for their stage level. The content and skills required for these subjects are taught through explicit instruction and independent inquiry. In the Senior School students choose from a broad range of subjects in addition to the mandatory subjects required by the Australian Curriculum for their stage level. These subjects are taught as stand-alone topics and through integrated units so that all students have the opportunity to engage with purposeful learning experiences in their own areas of passion.
Catering for the Individual Learner
Northholm caters for the individual learning needs of all students including those with gifts and talents, through a broad academic program. To enable all students to excel teachers utilise a range of in-class strategies including special groupings of students, multi-age classes, acceleration, enrichment activities and additional support. Students also enjoy an extensive co-curricular program with diverse opportunities in the creative arts, leadership training, outdoor education, a wide range of sports and many different clubs.
The Learning Support Team works closely with the teaching staff to ensure the individual needs of students are being catered for in the classroom from entry to Year Twelve. Their role is to provide in-class support, small group withdrawal and individual tuition in the areas of literacy and numeracy. The Learning Support Team also provides teaching staff with student profiles which outline individual students’ requirements and appropriate teaching strategies. Student progress is monitored closely and appropriate intervention is provided on an as needs basis. Personal Education Plans are put in place for students needing an adjusted program. These plans are reviewed regularly. Special provisions for examinations and assessment tasks are organised in conjunction with the Board of Studies for students who require additional assistance to achieve their best. Our comprehensive approach and focus on individual help ensures that our students feel supported to do their best.
Northholm prides itself on the quality of its teaching staff. The school uses its independent status, to recruit outstanding teachers with a strong commitment to young people and a keen understanding of contemporary teaching practices. All teaching staff are qualified in the area they teach to ensure students enjoy the benefit of being taught by teachers with specialised knowledge, experience and passion for their chosen subject area.