Middle School Learning Innovation

Seymour College overhaul merges Middle School curriculum into two interdisciplinary subjects

A HIGH-profile Adelaide girls school has merged most of its middle years curriculum into two “interdisciplinary” subjects and is phasing out traditional testing.

In a radical overhaul launched this week, Seymour College has also introduced medical science as an elective and is devoting three hours a week across all year levels to its new wellbeing program.

Two-thirds of lessons for Years 6-9 students are now either STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) or GEM, which stands for global studies (humanities including history and geography), English and media.

Seymour College Middle School students will have most of their lessons rolled into STEM or GEM.

Foreign languages and physical education are among subjects that remain separate.

Principal Kevin Tutt said interdisciplinary learning was crucial to students acquiring the modern skills of problem solving, creativity, collaboration and critical thinking.

Reading of a novel, for example, could link to the study of the historical period of its setting and the production of student films about it.

Medical science, psychology and philosophy, and business, economics and law, are among Year 9 electives.

“Teachers must teach across all of the STEM or all of the GEM subjects. We’ve got an entirely new curriculum in all those areas,” Mr Tutt said.

“The premise behind that (change) is the world requires a better understanding of how subjects are interrelated. At times there will be ways to link STEM and GEM as well.

“I’ve been a teacher and a principal for a long time and I think this is reasonably ground -breaking stuff.” Year 10 becomes a “transition year” back to core subjects of English, maths, science and history, before students begin their SACE.

While some formal testing will remain, Mr Tutt said assessment would move “more and more … towards girls singularly or in teams demonstrating the learning process” to other students, teachers, parents and industry professionals visiting the school.

But he stressed the “fundamentals in literacy and numeracy must still be there”.

Seymour is also starting “Girlbeing”, its own wellbeing program with four 45-minute sessions for every year level each week. “Wellbeing these days is as fundamental as mathematics,” he said.

Article originally published in The Advertiser, Saturday 2 February 2018.