Up close and personal education for girls

Wednesday 20 April, 2016

Junior school students

There’s a phrase you’ll hear teachers often use at Pymble: “Some of the time, but not all of the time”. So what exactly does it mean, and how does it relate to your daughter’s education?

It’s a shorthand way of expressing the way Pymble uses the tools of the educational trade – such as classrooms, teaching methods and technology – to create optimum learning experiences tailored to every girl. A classroom can be used as a flexible learning environment, for instance. Technology is useful in many learning experiences, but not always or only.

Personalised learning was first espoused in our College vision and then in our far-reaching Towards 2020 strategy. In a nutshell, it takes the idea of an education tailored to girls and brings together complex factors to deliver a personally focused, experience-rich learning adventure for each individual student.

A vital factor of personalised learning is the quality of teaching thought and pedagogical practice. Each year, Pymble invests heavily in professional development, a program for teachers that includes lecturers from Harvard University and Yale University in the United States. Talk to other schools, and you’ll hear that PD sessions are often wasted with dry, endless droning about policy. At Pymble, our teachers are inspired to be impassioned and inquisitive learners about their profession in order to have the skills and insight to know, guide and challenge each girl.

Another key component to effective learning is relevancy of lessons, which has been proven to be especially pertinent to girls. US researchers Jacobs, Kuriloff, Andrus and Cox analysed 2000 stories from girls about their best learning experiences. They reported in Reaching Girls:

“Girls liked lessons that were clear, relevant to their lives, and provided opportunities for collaboration. They were engaged by activities that were hands-on and multimodal and included discussions and elements of creativity and the creative arts. Lessons that provided out-of-class experiences also stood out to participants.”

It makes sense that engaging lessons lead to engaged learners, and that’s why teaching practice at Pymble focuses so strongly on intentionally designed learning opportunities. Engagement isn’t accidental. It’s crafted.

But there’s still one more aspect to learning at Pymble, and that’s the vital importance of positive relationships. We know from research and our practice that our girls learn best when they feel secure and supported through their relationships with their parents, their teachers and their peers. Our Wellbeing framework brings this important element to the fore across every year level in the College.

Pymble is undeniably a beautiful school, with outstanding facilities and exceptional grounds. Our integrated use of technology is very strong. We are leading Australian schools in transforming outdated chalk-and-talk classrooms into rich learning environments.

Bear in mind that all of these physical aspects – however beautiful or brilliant – are merely tools used some of the time, but not all of the time for our greater goal: delivering world-class learning at Pymble.