Ballarat Clarendon College positions itself at the forefront of applying the lessons of educational research and cognitive science to practical classroom applications. Increasingly, cognitive scientists have become aware of the importance of knowledge held in long-term memory for success in tasks as diverse as reading comprehension and critical and creative thinking. Unlike inert knowledge that is on the internet, knowledge held in long-term memory is active and can be flexibly and effortless applied to a range of situations. Knowledge is what you think with. In considering the implications of this for the school, Clarendon has committed to a knowledge-rich curriculum in which foundational, enabling and problem-solving knowledge is strategically developed as students pass through each stage of their education.
Committed to evidence-based decision making, Clarendon draws on the research of Barack Rosenshine, John Dunlosky, Dylan Wiliam and E.D. Hirsch Jnr to design and map the curriculum, select effective instructional strategies and structure lessons. Explicit teaching, delivery of new material in small steps, guided practice and teacher modelling, questioning, and review and retrieval practice are whole-school agreed strategies that support students to make progress in their learning.
Drawing on the methodology of Wiggins and McTighe, the knowledge-rich curriculum is carefully sequenced and documented. Teachers work in department-based cohort teams to collaboratively design, deliver, evaluate and re-design units of work. With the curriculum mapped from Prep through to Year 12, the teaching staff at Ballarat Clarendon College build on the strong foundations formed in junior years to challenge and inspire students as they construct a coherent body of knowledge and incrementally develop skills and capacity through the middle and senior schools.
Our process of curriculum innovation and improvement is the result of our careful tracking of student progress against the expectations for student learning as precisely described in the unit planning documentation. Performance data is used to refine and improve the curriculum to ensure that exceptional instructional practice is captured and shared. Over several iterations of this process, questions around what learning and progress looks like and the effectiveness of the delivery of the curriculum are answered. This process of collaboration and team work within cohorts ensure that our curriculum is clear and consistent.