Independent Learning Time

As part of our approach to meeting individual needs and creating self directed learners, JPC breaks the traditional high school model by allocating one out of every three hours of class time for independent learning.

Each of the eight subject areas we teach has the equivalent of three hour-long lessons in a week, comparable with other high schools. We cover the same curriculum content (the Australian Curriculum) and do equivalent assessment

The difference lies in our use of time. Two of the three hours are devoted to traditional classroom teaching. The third hour is intensive individual learning called Independent Learning Time (ILT).

Independent learning is closely supported by teachers, with the level of guidance matched to the student’s needs. The support gradually tapers as students develop skills of time-management, planning and self-reliance.

Teachers set assignments or tasks to be completed each week in this independent learning time. Students will then plan each hour of their time with their parents, and submit the plan for the approval of their Pastoral Care teacher. Through this process they learn to identify very specific goals, as well as workable strategies to achieve them.

Teachers are rostered on the floor for each hour-long session, available at all times for advice and support. Students know which teachers are on the floor in particular areas at any given time, and structure their plan around specialist teachers they may wish to consult.

An extra hour of practical PE is built in each week for all students. Teacher-run skills sessions also occur regularly in independent learning time for each year group to develop general skills or literacy and numeracy skills. Teacher led subject tutorials are also regularly offered for students.

Whilst students work towards individual goals in a majority of independent learning sessions, they may also collaborate on small group projects either as extension challenges or to support each other’s learning needs.

A critical role for Mentor Teachers

The Mentor relationship is key to Self-Directed Learning. Each Mentor Teacher develops a close relationship of trust with students and their family, and can respond swiftly and sensitively should concerns arise.

Partnering with families

Families have a crucial role in the education process, supported by our College staff. We believe parents and carers are a student’s most important role models – a relationship far more important than supervising their homework. We work with families to guide students to independence, recognising that skills of planning, thinking and reflecting are nurtured in the home as well as the classroom.

Each week students plan and complete an Independent Learning timetable in consultation with their parents or carers, reflecting on where their time is best spent. This weekly discussion is very important, not only in helping students to plan but also in encouraging them to show pride in their progress. Parental input and feedback play a key role in enabling us to respond proactively to individual needs – whether more challenges or more support is required.