The New Normal for Learning at St Luke's Catholic College, NSW

Published: Wednesday 21 August 2019

The NSW Chapter hosted a site visit to St Luke’s Catholic College at Marsden Park in North Western Sydney in June.

We were delighted to have more than 120 people attend. It was a very enjoyable and inspiring afternoon. After a tour of the spaces, we heard from Greg Miller, Principal Leader at St Lukes; Greg Whitby, Executive Director of Schools in Parramatta Diocese; and two students Riley (Year 8) and Rosary (Year 7).

St Luke’s is an exciting and thriving school, a campus for learners aged from 3 to 18. The school is committed to designing ‘the new normal’ for learners. Staff and parents work in partnership to shape curious learners into creative contributors and innovative problem solvers for a changing world.

The College commenced with pre-school and primary years in 2017 and has now progressed to Stage 4 (Year 8 and Year 9 in 2020) operating within a four-school model. Learners progress from School of Early Learning, to the School of Foundations (Stage 1 and 2), the School of Leadership (Stages 3 and 4) to the School of Entrepreneurs (Stages 5 and 6). In coming years, the school will grow into its full capacity to Stage 6.

 

St Lukes was designed by Alleanza Architecture and opened in 2017. It was valuable to hear David Bryant, from Alleanza Architecture, who outlined the vision and strategy for the design and build. David further explained the plans for the implementation of the next stages.

Greg Miller works alongside the community to shape the learning journey for students, parents and teachers. The learning spaces are designed as agile and adaptive, accommodating a variety of teaching and learning approaches.

Each stage has a team of two class teachers and a teacher-coach, allowing for differentiation and catering for the diverse needs of students. Professional learning is prioritised at St Luke’s to ensure that each student can demonstrate learning gains through a supportive and inclusive environment.

 

Greg Whitby spoke of the challenges facing innovative education. He contested the idea that what was happening at St Luke’s was ‘experimental” as claimed in the media. Rather the vision for St Luke’s and the philosophy of education is based in research, and is transformational.

However, Greg clearly explained that St Luke’s is not the ‘blueprint’ for future schools, as all schools must develop and be true to their context.

Riley and Rosary confidently shared their experience as learners at St Lukes. It was interesting to hear about how the learning enabled them to dive into their passions and interests through the Pathways program.

Riley spoke about being an entrepreneur, developing a business plan for a school canteen, authentic learning at its best. Rosary, new to the College this year, loves the flexibility of learning at St Lukes, she appreciates the spaces and the opportunity to develop her own her ‘voice’ as she learns.

Following their time with us, these students headed into their student-led conferences (otherwise known as parent-teacher meetings) to share their learning progress.

The NSW Chapter is grateful to all those who joined us for the afternoon event and hope that you come along to the Great Debate in August. Stay tuned.

Article and photos: Cecely McGeachie