Kandos High Principal, James Armitage, shares the schools' journey in improving curriculum access for Years 11 and 12.
Kandos High School (KHS) is a co-educational high school catering for the towns of Kandos, Rylstone and several smaller rural communities. Kandos High School is in the picturesque Capertee Valley, boarding the Wollemi National Park and relies on industry centred on agriculture, tourism, mining and a famous history linked to the production of cement in Australia.
As with many rural communities, the greater Kandos and Rylstone area has seen a significant, recent and ongoing demographic decline and the associated changes to communities that have links to declining rural industries.
Our schools mainstream enrolment is currently 232 and enrolment data for the next five years indicates a further 15% reduction. This decrease carries with it a significant reduction in staffing.
Collectively, staff at KHS have a strong commitment to the continuing provision of opportunities for all students. In 2015 this led to the introduction of a curriculum review to investigate methods of delivery that would secure and maintain our senior curriculum into the future. This is despite an immediate and long term drop in staffing numbers that threaten to force a reduction in the broad stage 6 curriculum offerings of which the school was extremely proud.
There were many alternatives considered and investigated. Ultimately, the decision was made that we would trial a new initiative developed at Kandos High called iCap (Internal Curriculum Access Program).
In essence, iCap was an idea born out of the successful Access programs that exist across a variety of rural and isolated settings in NSW Department of Education schools. Students under supervision undertake online learning in a subject that has been developed by staff at Kandos High School. Teachers in iCap have a face to face class and a number of students from another class as individualised learners all in one room that has been setup to cater for this need.
Each iCap line involved in the trial in 2017, has four iCap subjects linked on respective lines, each with eight 50 minute periods on student timetables – 4 x face to face periods and 4 x tutorial periods.
The four tutorial periods have been allocated to a room that has been designed to nurture an independent adult learning environment. Each teacher supervises one of the four combined tutorial periods whilst teaching their own class in the iCap room, in addition to teaching four face to face periods.
This year, as the trial year, a 6th timetabled preparation period has been built into staff timetables to support the changes in delivery required for this alternate style of teaching and learning.
Critical elements of success
Thus far, the critical elements of success have been:
The significant nature of this change required substantial consultation with students, parents and most importantly staff. Through the consultation period there was undisputed recognition that something needed to be done and iCap provided the opportunity to:
* maintain a broad curriculum,
* provided the flexibility required in a small comprehensive High School and;
* most importantly forced the need for promotion of 21st century learning skills or 21CLD skills.
With this in mind, it is important to note that a number of staff had significant and genuine concerns about many aspects of this delivery most of which focused around three areas:
* reduction of face to face time
* our student’s ability to self-regulate and work independently
* that this concept was untried
With these concerns in mind, the decision was made to trial iCap in 2017 with two lines of four subjects each in 2017.
Flexibility and staff voice
Having been involved in the inception of iCap, many of the structures with the trial are not what I envisaged. Listening and adapting to staff requests and expectations has produced a much different model, that I believe has a better chance of success as a result of the professional and collaborative nature of the staff at Kandos High School.
Technology has really been the backbone to this project. The introduction of iCap has coincided with Kandos High School rolling out BYOD in Year 7 and 11. From a professional learning perspective, we also had to narrow our focus of support and Microsoft (namely OneNote/Onedrive and Sway) have been the preferred delivery mechanisms in the early stages of this trial.
We are currently working very closely with Megan Townes from Microsoft and Deb Clarke from Charles Sturt University to upskill staff and students with the resources and most importantly the skills required to support the many changes in delivery and the expectation of skills required by the student body.
From a Principals perspective, I am extremely excited at the prospect of being able to shape our future as a school in the face of those things we cannot control. I am tremendously grateful that the staff of Kandos High School have worked so very hard to give this the best chance of success.
How to cite this article: Armitage, J. 2017, 'ICAP - internal curriculum access program', Scan, 36(1), pp. 30-33