Navigating Senior School subject choices

Students and parents have some important decisions to make in the next couple of weeks in regards to subject selections for next year. This week, the Subject Expo was well attended by our senior students and parents were educated on the SACE, ATARs, University requirements and new subject offerings. The Expo was supported by our local Universities and our teaching staff were able to display their learning areas. Having so much choice is wonderful but also makes the task of settling on a set of subjects that much harder.

New subjects this year include Stage 1 Child Studies, the Year 9/10 Business, Law and Government and Taste the World in Middle School.

For our Year 11 and 12s undertaking the task of subject choices – students need to work backwards form their University destinations. They need to identify any pre-requisite subjects or preferred background knowledge. Other considerations are entry demands like the ATAR and auditioning or interview processes. We will always advise young people to pursue their strengths and passions. Studying subjects that have a personal interest ensures greater commitment and engagement. Senior School success can only be manufactured by hard work.

Year 10 can be – and often is – a tough year for many students. There can be social turmoil, study becomes harder and it can be difficult to really focus and engage with learning. The confidence of young people is often challenged to a point where there is a waning of optimism and self-doubt creeps into play! The onset of part-time work, a robust social life means finding balance and discipline in weekly routines is a challenge.

The school responds to this in a number of ways:

  • School is broken into ‘bite-sized pieces’ where students will study for a month and then have a chance to escape the normal grind of the schooling routine and participate in alternative exciting learning programs. In the middle of Term 1, there is a 3 day retreat which looks at personal growth, the quest for emotional and social well-being and a richer exploration of relationships. Breaking up Terms 2 and 4 is a three-day Service and Citizenship initiative and a three-day Work Experience, both supported by studies done in the Personal Learning Program (PLP). In Week 5 of Term 3, students are sent off on a super-challenge as part Explore and Soar week, something that takes them well out of their comfort zones.
  • Heads of House have re-organised the structure of Home Group to allow for regular ‘catch-ups’ with small groups of Year 10 students. This opportunity allows students to work through issues and situations that directly affect them with staff. They share not only the problems but also the solutions with each other.
  • It is so important to reinvigorate hope in young people, so Year 10 has a career focus. The quest is to help students find their passions and strengths and identify possible career pathways. This can be such a motivational exercise.
  • Year 10 students want to continue with further learning about their own personal development and health. We have merged the RAVE curriculum with a Rite Journey flavoured Health program and this will provide that explicit teaching of emotional and social development.

Every senior school student will have met his or her Head of House for some tailor-made subject advice. It is an ideal chance for students to work through their thinking and ensure all factors are considered. Subject teachers have visited classrooms to clarify subject pathways and talk about course outline and assessment requirements. Our Careers Counsellor, Wendy Edwards is busy meeting students and families, looking at future opportunities beyond school.

Choices are all made online; all homes should have been delivered information about the selection process. Subject choice happens now so that the school can ensure that the timetable is well considered, staffing needs are planned for and every student has their demands met.

Richard Anderson

Deputy Principal and Head of Senior School