Principal's radical school overhaul hands power to students

by James Reid30 Mar 2015

Students will design their own subjects and choose learning times in an effort to breathe life into a "stagnant" learning structure.

Templestowe College principal, Peter Hutton, recently announced the changes to breathe life into a “stagnant” educational structure at his school.

“The simple truth is that the traditional education system does not work for a majority of students,” Hutton wrote in this month’s school newsletter.

“We have deliberately removed many of the restrictions that ‘traditional’ schools place on students, such as year level structures, single-age classes and authoritarian hierarchy structures.”
 
The idea behind Templestowe College’s learning program was to increase autonomy in the school’s classrooms to make students ultimately responsible for their own learning.
 
From their first year as a member of the school’s entry class, the students get to choose one-third of what they study, picking two subjects each semester from over 20 electives.
 
The electives comprise of three 75-minute learning blocks each week, equalling 7½ hours of study in areas of the student’s choice.

Once students graduate from the entry class they can select their entire academic program from subjects in the school’s Flexible Learning Environment. Even Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) subjects are available depending on the student’s interest and ability. 
 
Last year, Hutton said students had become the “victims” of the state-wide school structure, which he said was failing “two-thirds” of students.

“There’s no doubt the education system is broken,” Hutton said.

Education Minister, James Merlino, said he welcomed innovation in Victoria’s secondary schools.

“This is exactly why we have schools like Templestowe College adapting their approach to suit the needs of their students,” Merlino said.