Expanding learning options across the diocese through satellite learning

While curriculum delivery for students is typically defined in terms of a teacher and a physical classroom, within the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle learning options have been developed to provide flexible delivery of courses, expanding options for students across the diocese.

For many years, students have engaged in correspondence courses through a number of external providers to cater for individual student need. In 2015, due to the number of students looking at this option, the Catholic Schools Office saw an opportunity to engage teachers throughout the diocese to offer classes through mix-mode delivery – face-to-face learning and satellite classes. Some courses, especially some of the higher level courses, typically attract a smaller cohort of students in a number of schools. It was apparent that groups of students in three or four schools could readily form a class.

This was also true of specialist areas of tuition offered in centrally located schools but not necessarily in regional schools. In addition, when course selections are being made in any given year, individual schools may offer courses that do not attract sufficient students to be viable. Again, a diocesan cohort could be formed. 

In 2015/2016, HSC Music Course 2, specifically designed for advanced music students, was the first of the mixed-mode classes to be offered to cohorts at St Joseph’s High School, Aberdeen, St Clare’s High School, Taree and St Francis Xavier’s College, Hamilton, under the direction of a teacher at Hamilton. It proved a great success.

In January this year, Year 11 Dance began operating with students from three secondary schools being taught by a teacher from St Catherine’s, Singleton. Course delivery is a combination of online learning, whole class and individual tuition via video conference (VC) and face-to-face instruction.

Additional mixed-mode options are currently being prepared for delivery from 2018, including Dance and Music Course 2 (Years 11 and 12), History Extension, Mathematics Extension 2 and English Extension 2 (for the HSC).

Sarah Purnell, teacher at St Catherine’s Catholic College, Singleton, has been teaching Diocesan Distance Education Dance since the start of 2017. An advocate for this mode of learning, Sarah is enthused that her students are being given the opportunity to choose subjects they are passionate about in the creative arena.

“I aim to have three individual lessons with each school (St Catherine’s, All Saints College, St Mary’s Campus, Maitland and St Francis Xavier’s College, Hamilton) via VC or in class (for St Catherine’s students), one group lesson through VC and a two-hour block face-to-face school visit every fortnight,” says Miss Purnell.

“I have set up a website with the weekly work and resources so that all work is in one space and students know exactly where to go each week.”

The flexible delivery offered through this mode of learning provides students with expanded curriculum options and valuable learning opportunities. Further opportunities across the learning stages will continue to be explored, providing diocesan students with additional options, allowing them to explore their passions and thrive.

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Gerard Mowbray Image
Gerard Mowbray

Gerard Mowbray is the Director at the Catholic Schools Office, Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.

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