REDCLIFFE State High School is a world leader when it comes to helping students achieve success in their chosen pathways, thanks to their hard work and shared vision.
As part of the High Reliability School framework, it is the first secondary school in the world to achieve certification in four of five performance levels.
Principal Shona McKinlay and Deputy Principal Years 9/10 Maria Williamson say it is more than just certification, with the real prize being the tangible student outcomes.
“We have evidence that our students are getting great (academic and NAPLAN) results,” Shona says.
She says the system defines five ways to ensure that students develop the knowledge and skills they need to excel not only in their senior schooling, but also in their careers and beyond.
Teachers have allocated time to work with students struggling to grasp concepts each Friday afternoon. Teachers have also been given more time to collaborate.
The students measure their success in a unique way, using proficiency scales. At the beginning of each semester, students also set their own targets, and review them.
“They can see what they need to improve. There’s no mystery in what they have to know and do to get a certain result,” Shona says.
In March 2019, the school received its certification and hosted about 20 schools, keen to see firsthand how students and teachers work together.
“We’ve just told them what we’ve done. We don’t try to tell them what to do. We just share that information. It’s up to them what they take out of it,” Shona says.
Maria says they have emphasised that it took four years for these results to be reached and certain measures they have tried have not succeeded.
“Schools need to think out of the box,” she says.
The hard work is not done, with three goals in sharp focus now – vocabulary, student well-being and empowering students to take responsibility for their own learning and behaviour, as well as competency-based research where students can work at their own pace.
“I think the way students learn has changed and in the future they’ll need to be more independent learners,” Maria says. “We want every student to leave here being a citizen that will contribute to the community.”
Shona agrees: “We have a responsibility to not let kids just get through school and not learn. We think we can do better”.
HIGH RELIABILITY SCHOOL
● Defining five levels of performance a school must master, based on 40 years of research
● These include professional learning communities, instruction in reasoning skills and critical thinking, teaching framework, vocabulary instruction, evaluation and development of teachers, sound curriculum, standards-based grading and formative assessment