Learning at the Leading Edge

Merrylands East Primary School faces the challenge of catering to a range of learning styles, interests, knowledge and skills, given the diverse social, cultural and economic circumstances of the students. Supported by Social Ventures Australia, the school has embarked on a holistic initiative to adopt innovative and creative pedagogies. Merrylands East Public School has achieved significant student outcomes in the first year of the partnership, with the percentage of students demonstrating progression in 21st Century capabilities increasing from 9% to 38%.

Merrylands East Public School is a K-6 Primary School in South Western Sydney, New South Wales. The school has the equivalent of 25.4 staff, and a student enrolment of 348 students, including:

  • 45% of students in the bottom quartile of socio-educational advantage
  • 91% of students from English as Second Language backgrounds
  • 12% of students from refugee families

Students at Merrylands East Primary School hail from varied cultural and linguistic backgrounds, and many have experienced trauma and disruptions in schooling. The school experiences significant transience in its student population, and therefore faces the challenge of catering to a range of learning styles, interests, knowledge and skills, whilst overcoming social, cultural and economic expectations that have limited exposure to a variety of experiences and technologies. Traditional pedagogies can neither differentiate to cope with the diverse needs of students, nor to cope with transience, and thus do not serve to optimise learning for all students.

Merrylands East Primary School is using the resources and support from Social Ventures Australia to adapt and adopt innovative and creative pedagogies in order to provide a range of educational experiences to students. This involves developing the school structures and teacher capabilities to facilitate the integration of play based learning, project based learning and passion based learning into the curriculum and instruction.

Project Based Learning
Project based learning allows students to explore authentic issues and situations as they work in collaborative groups to develop cross-curricular skills and solve challenges. Research shows that project based learning invigorates the learning environment, and enables students to explore, investigate and understand the world using critical 21st Century skills of research, organisation, communication and presentation.

Play Based Learning
Play based learning allows students to use play to engage in new experiences and environments, to understand the social and physical conditions that define their world, and the language and symbols that are used to describe them. Research shows that play based learning enables the development of social and cognitive skill, self-confidence, curiosity and concentration, which are critical for further learning.

Passion Based Learning
Passion based learning allows students to explore an area of interest that they want to learn about within a set amount of time each lesson. Teachers facilitate, rather than direct learning, and encourage creativity, that in turn encourages productivity.

Accordingly, teaching and learning takes place in open learning spaces, and in a classless environment, which encourages learning anywhere, anytime and with anyone. The integration of the three pedagogies leads to dynamic learning. Students are supported to advance at their own pace, as the school is able to cater to individual learning abilities and styles, as well as to ensure that learning is relevant, authentic, and focused on the capabilities required for 21st Century citizenship.

Watch the Merrylands East Public School (MEPs) meets Atlassian video below.

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