Career Capable, Future Focused

Rooty Hill High School faces the challenge of ensuring that at least 80% of students achieve benchmark standards in 21st Century capabilities on ACARA/BOSTES assessments. Supported by Social Ventures Australia, the school has embarked on an comprehensive initiative to create a capabilities focused curriculum, assessment and transition program to further education and employment, and has achieved significant student outcomes in the first year of the partnership, with 95% of Year 9 students achieving Year 10 benchmarks in personal and social 21st Century capabilities, compared to less than 80% in the previous year.

Rooty Hill High School is a 7-12 Secondary School in Western Sydney, New South Wales. The school has the equivalent of 89 staff, and a student enrolment of 1098 students, including:

  • 46% of students in the bottom quartile of socio-educational advantage
  • 51% of students from English as Second Language backgrounds
  • 5% of students from Indigenous backgrounds

The Melbourne Declaration of Educational Goals identifies capabilities in literacy, numeracy, information and communications technology, creativity, teamwork, and communication as essential for learners in the 21st Century. Rooty Hill High School is committed to ensuring that at least 80% of students achieve benchmark standards in these capabilities on ACARA/BOSTES assessments. This requires curriculum and assessments that are capabilities focused, as well as the teacher capacity and student engagement required for capabilities centred teaching and learning. The school therefore faces the challenge of addressing these in order to enable students to understand and advance their own capabilities, in order to transition into further education and employment in the 21st Century.

Rooty Hill High School is using the resources and support from Social Ventures Australia to address this gap through an integrated approach that aims to increase student awareness of capabilities and improve transitions. This involves development of capabilities driven curriculum with aligned assessment and reporting mechanisms, and building teacher capacity to deliver this focus on capabilities. Students further have access to university, traineeship and work readiness programs and create digital portfolios based on self-assessment of their own skills, capabilities, and dispositions and validated by teacher judgement, leading to greater awareness of their capabilities and stronger transitions to further education and employment.

Digital Portfolios
Digital Portfolios are an engaging and effective way for students to showcase their digital work and reflect on the learning process. A digital portfolio can be either off-line or on-line, or combination of both, and can include products, assessment comments and rubrics, strategies and plans. In the classroom, a digital portfolio is usually used to showcase learning and reflections over a period of time, and may provide evidence towards assessment.
The Rooty Hill High School initiative is founded on the following principles:

  • Higher order skills, such as creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration, are essential for meaningful learning
  • Knowledge needs to be more relevant, with a better balance struck between the conceptual and practical, suggesting a particular role for programmes incorporating on-the-job training such as apprenticeships
  • Character traits, both performance-related (adaptability, persistence, resilience) and moral (integrity, justice, empathy and ethics) need to be shaped both at school in the workplace to help individuals to be active and responsible citizens
  • Meta-layer skills, such as learning to learn, building expertise, fostering creativity and making connections across disciplines, are becoming more important in a world of growing complexity