Huge Compliment For Our English Department

We’ve always known our English staff is pretty special, but it was recently confirmed by our national education body. The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) say their analysis of NAPLAN reveals our students have performed well above expectations over a number of years in the area of Writing.

Santa Maria College has been asked to provide details of the teaching and learning strategies we have in place that have contributed to our students’ outstanding success. These strategies will be used as a model for other schools nation-wide. Some of the strategies include:

  • A strong departmental focus on professional development in the area of creative writing. Staff have completed 10 sessions, each designed to target different aspects of constructing effective narratives.
  • Feedback processes focus on identifying areas of growth. This is influenced by Carol Dweck’s research into Growth Mindsets. Teachers identify and communicate growth steps for each writing assessment produced. Students then write reflections and acknowledge, in positive language, what they can do in order to improve. 
  • A greater focus on formative assessment, which includes frequent in-class exercises and skill builders, as opposed to the construction of polished final products. 
  • Modified teaching programs in Years 7-9, moving to a thematic approach in an effort to boost cultural capital and promote empathy in students.

ACARA’s method of analysis takes into account not only the starting score of students two years previous, but also the socio-economic advantage in the school community. In short, that means, our girls show significant improvement over their time at the College and this cannot be explained away purely by the economic and social privilege we know we enjoy.

Over the last eight years, our English Learning Area has been ably led by Anthony Phillips. This semester Anthony has been on leave and so replaced by Rebecca Johnson, who has also proven herself to be a great curriculum leader. Anthony will continue his leave for the duration of 2021 and Rebecca will continue in the role.

Rebecca says, “We have a collaborative culture in our English team. Sharing and open dialogue regarding the best ways to bolster student improvement is a key feature of our daily work.”

Congratulations to all of our English teachers and our girls who have, as a cohort, consistently shown above-average progress.

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