Sydney Catholic Schools are using technology to complement strong literacy and numeracy programs in a bid to decrease families’ reliance on tutoring. Apart from maintaining a high-quality education offering, it’s an approach that could deliver significant cost and time savings to parents.
Sydney Catholic Schools’ (SCS) Director of Teaching and Learning, Genevieve Moss, said parents engage a tutor for their child for many reasons and understanding them was key to meeting the needs of each school community.
Tutoring does have a place, but it shouldn’t be extensive.
“It could be that parents have little time to help with homework, and so the tutor becomes the skilled person who assists their child,” she said.
“What we don’t want is for them to feel that something is lacking in the classroom. Through the positive work that Sydney Catholic Schools currently do and are evolving, we hope to enhance support for students’ learning outside of school hours. Tutoring does have a place, but it shouldn’t be extensive.”
In the classroom
Research-based approaches to literacy and mathematics develop teacher quality and support students’ academic growth. SCS introduced the 2020 Vision for Mathematical Expertise and Excellence program in 2018, with 63 primary schools in the program’s first cohort.
Schools that join the program commit to four years of rigorous professional learning to deepen teachers’ understanding of the subject matter and how to teach it. Armed with this expert knowledge, teachers can help students build independence and perseverance solving complex problems.
Visible learning goals are similarly helping students reading and writing skills develop. The processes encourage teachers to see learning through the eyes of their students and help them improve their learning on their own.
Sydney Catholic schools also take a ‘growth mindset’ approach to teaching and learning that gives students the confidence to try and master new skills. Those with a fixed mindset avoid challenge, while a growth mindset allows abilities to be developed through dedication and hard work. “This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for accomplishment,” Ms Moss said. “Through it, students get to know their own learning style and where they can go to enhance their learning. This may be online, or to their peers, teacher or others within their learning community.”
Technology is one way SCS is bridging the gap. From Science to Legal Studies, more SCS classrooms now use blended learning to facilitate students understanding of different topics and skills. The combination of digital and face-to-face lessons can allow students to collaborate with their teachers when they hit a roadblock, rather than muddle through it on their own at home.
“Whether it’s flipping the classroom so students do their research and preparation at home and then apply and test what they have learnt at school, or supporting their home learning in a different way, our approach is one that can support families to maximize their time,” Ms Moss said.
“Students can access blended learning opportunities in languages at any time of day. For parents, we’re also developing podcasts and videos around literacy, student wellbeing, and Mathematics to develop parents’ confidence in those areas and their knowledge of how to support their child as they learn.
“Technology can support that anywhere and anytime learning for parents as it does our students. Once upon a time schools would have run forums, and time-poor families may have missed out. We want to encourage that more flexible approach and utilise technology so that parents are able to engage with their child’s learning.”