Bespoke Pathways at Walford

15 April 2024
Walford’s recently-launched Strategic Plan includes four key pillars, one of which is Bespoke Pathways.

Walford is committed to facilitating student voice, choice and agency, and in doing so providing every girl with the opportunity to strive for personalised excellence.

For us, Bespoke Pathways means that from early learning through to senior secondary, and beyond, Walford students are supported to co-design their own trajectory and experiences in ways that best suit them, to achieve that to which they each aspire.

Walford students are supported in carving their own paths at a time when young people are being met with the most significant disruption since the industrial revolution, facing a time of unprecedented challenge environmentally, economically, socially and emotionally. Rapid change is being driven by accelerating globalisation and exponential advancements in technology. KnowledgeWorks (as cited by Hannon & Temperley, 2022) are forecasting that we will become so inextricably linked with digital devices that we will live as partners in code, leading the next generation into a phase of human digital co-evolution. As educators, the key will be empowering young people to use technology so that it leverages their capacity to make unique contributions.

At Walford, we are tasked with preparing students for jobs that are yet to exist, using technologies that have not been invented, to solve problems that are yet to fully materialise. This makes education exciting and also poses important questions about how we set about developing the capabilities of students and the contexts in which this development occurs. The OECD has forecast four scenarios for schooling:

  • Schooling extended
  • Education outsourced
  • Schools as learning hubs
  • Learn-as-you go

One very clear lesson learned throughout Covid was that young people crave belonging to their school communities for the sense of wellbeing, care and connection schools provide. This is an important indicator that schools as institutions remain important as hubs for children and adolescents, providing the training ground in preparing them as future ready agents of their own learning. A strong body of research indicates that there are two important things schools can do to ensure students are future ready:

  • Build a solid foundation. Literacy and numeracy remain crucial as key elements in a learner’s journey, providing the passport to access all other learning opportunities.
  • Provide personalised learning environments. This will enable students to identify interests, nurture passions, make connections between different learning experiences and design their own learning projects in collaboration with others, developing students as agile and dynamic agents capable of navigating complexity.

Bespoke Pathways is about providing a highly agile, responsive, challenging and flexible schooling environment that honours the needs of students to use their voice, exercise choice and draw upon agency. In practical terms, this is about enabling students to select learning experiences that reflect their interests including our interdisciplinary short course electives, enabling students to engage their teachers in co-design of learning experiences and at the senior level of schooling, supporting students to map their own curriculum pathway including early entry in SACE subjects, being accredited for experiences beyond school such as the Duke of Edinburgh Award (Bronze, Silver or Gold), vocational learning and for those who are ready to extend themselves, early university study.

In addition, the Future Curriculum Working Party is a team of interdisciplinary teachers across the Junior, Middle and Senior Schools. It is our aim to draw on a blend of futures thinking, robust evidence and practical experimentation in learning contexts, ensuring we deliver learning experiences that position our students as principled agents of their own futures. Drawing on the work of Hannon and Temperley (2022), we believe that learning ought to be technology enhanced and we are therefore looking to ensure we sequence learning experiences across the whole school that expose students to robotics and computer science (particularly as code will be increasingly significant in our lives), mixed media such as filmmaking and podcasting, digital design with industrial applications including fashion design, architecture, visual art and design and engineering with a focus on the prototype process where students can engage in ‘fail forward’ learning – drawing from failure to improve design.

This is such an exciting time to lead and learn at Walford. Our students will graduate as future ready young women who know how to learn, possess awareness of and the ability to use their strengths, can readily identify and seize emerging opportunities; are good at being human (can empathise and connect positively with others) and can mobilise their knowledge, skills, experiences and values to successfully navigate complexity.

Ms Georgina West
Head of Senior School

Bibliography

Hannon, V & Temperley, J, 2022,, FutureSchool: How Schools Around the World Are Applying Learning Design Principles for a New Era, Taylor & Francis Group, Milton, doi: 10.4324/9781003244172.

OECD (2020), Back to the Future of Education: Four OECD Scenarios for Schooling, Educational Research and Innovation, OECD Publishing, Paris https://doi.org/10.1787/178ef527-en

OECD (2018), The Future of Education and Skills: Education 2030, https://www.oecd.org/education/2030/E2030%20Position%20Paper%20(05.04.2018).pdf

Shergold, P. (2020) Looking to the Future: report of the review of senior secondary pathways into work, further education and training https://uploadstorage.blob.core.windows.net/public-assets/education-au/pathways/Final%20report%20-%2018%20June.pdf

Lee S. D. (2019) Success Plans: Promising Tools for Customising Student Supports and Opportunities (Executive Summary) https://edredesign.org/press/HarvERLExSummaryDigital%C6%92.pdf Harvard Graduate School of Education

Walsh, B. (2019) Usable Knowledge: Planning for Success, https://www.gse.harvard.edu/news/uk/19/04/planning-success Harvard Graduate School of Education

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