Looking After Every Student
The Diverse Learning Centre has a multifaceted role in supporting the boys at Holy Cross College which aims to be inclusive and provide support to all students needing assistance and adjustment to reach their potential. It is understood that many boys find the academic demands and the school environment challenging and a range of support structures and strategies is needed to enable them achieve to the best of their abilities.
Diverse Learning Centre
The inclusive scope of learning areas under the Diverse Learning Centre umbrella include a well-established and comprehensive support program for students with a wide spectrum of learning disabilities/difficulties ranging from a Mild Intellectual Disability and Mental Health issues to Autism; a focus on students who have English as an Additional Language or Dialect (EAL/D); joint leadership and participation in a school-wide literacy program; leadership of our Gifted and Talented Program and specific support of Indigenous students.
Support Program for Students
Holy Cross College has a very well-established program to support these students along with the vitally important willingness and caring support of all staff. This program includes a number of key support areas including ongoing liaison with parents and teachers, Individual Adjustment Plans, Individual Transition Plans and in-class and withdrawal support by Learning Support Officers (LSOs). During in-class support, the LSO works collaboratively with the classroom teacher to support not only the students who receive funding but also other students who need assistance. For withdrawal support, the LSO works one-on-one with the students on adjusted classroom activities, so that he receives the time, simplified explanation and assistance to understand and learn the concepts and information being taught.
Differentiation is a key factor in meeting the needs of all students at the College and in particular those who struggle academically in the classroom, with assignments and during examination blocks. Differentiation is an integral part of the curriculum in each Key Learning Area and adjusted classwork and assessment tasks are designed to facilitate more accessible learning opportunities for our students.
A Life Skills Program for some students who are working academically at Primary School level is provided by DLC staff and their teachers. The boys complete the Life Skills program in the mainstream class which caters for their learning needs whilst having the benefits of interacting and socialising with boys of the same age, and completing school in the mainstream environment which prepares them well for life and work options after school.
Assessment or Testing of students in the school is another key component of the support given by the DLC. Testing of all students to determine their current levels of ability is conducted for every Year 7 intake during Orientation Day generally held in November each year. Ongoing testing using PAT-R and PAt-Maths for Years 7-10 is carried out to determine growth and areas of learning requiring specific focus by teachers. During the school year students identified as of concern by parents and/or teachers are tested using the Slosson General Intelligence Test to determine if further Psychometric (IQ) testing is required.
A Transition Program for boys in Years 10-12 involving meetings with the SCS Transition Officer, parents, students and Head of Diverse Learning gives student the opportunity to participate in different work experience placements which assists them make informed choices about subject choices for the Senior Years and/or post school options.A Work and the Community subject option is organised and offered by the DLC to senior students who are part of our Transition program. Work and the Community offers students the opportunity to complete work experience in a variety of work environments to assist them with finding a career path and transition out of school. In addition the boys complete lessons independently, completing a work experience journal, and covering topics such as looking for work, completing a resume, applying for jobs and information about rights and responsibilities in the workforce.
English as an Additional Language or Dialect
Holy Cross College has a substantial number of students identified as having a Language Background Other than English (LBOTE) and within this group many students who have English as an Additional Language or Dialect (EAL/D). In order to provide information to teachers about students who fit into the EAL/D category, a Phasing process is conducted whereby student samples of oral and written work are reviewed using specifically identified language characteristics to determine a student’s English language progress in terms of Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency (CALP) which is needed to achieve academically at school. Currently all EAL/D students in Years 7-12 have been phased based on written and oral samples of their work and information concerning their English language development conveyed to teachers via the Student Profiles on the Holy Cross College Student Management System.
School-Wide Literacy Program
Developing and improving literacy is a responsibility taken seriously by all teachers at the College and is an integral part of all curriculum areas. Years 7 and 8 were given Pat-R Reading tests in April this year to provide teachers with current information as to which boys may need extra support in this area. Reading Groups in Years 7 & 8 have been organised for remediation twice a cycle to meet the needs of students who are struggling with reading.
Gifted and Talented Program
Identification of students for any Gifted and Talented program is a key component and this is completed initially via the Year 7 Orientation Day testing. From this students who are assessed as having high ability are noted as such on the Student Profiles which provide information to staff about all students.
Based on this initial testing, parent questionnaires and teacher feedback, selected students are given an Up-level test to determine the extent or degree to which they need differentiation or adjustment to their curriculum to provide sufficient stimulation and challenge to ensure the boys fulfil their potential and do not become disengaged from their academic schooling. The teachers differentiate the curriculum for them by extending their work in class, grouping them accordingly and are increasingly focussed on providing activities that engage and challenge them.
A number of opportunities for Gifted and Talented students are provided each year to extend and enrich their learning experiences. Examples include Night of the Notables, Top Gun Science projects, Tournament of the Minds and of course the usual activities of Chess, Public Speaking, Debating, Band and Choir.
Specific Support of Indigenous Students
The DLC provides in-class assistance and exam support to students of Indigenous background as needed. Personalised Learning Plans are in progress for these students and their performance at school is closely monitored. Continued liaison with Indigenous Advisors from the Catholic Education Office is maintained so the boys and their parents are informed and can participate in special programs, for example Goodjarga which is run by Catholic Schools Performing Arts (CaSPA). Goodjarga gives Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students opportunities to develop their knowledge and understanding of Culture through storytelling, drama, voice and music.
This is offered twice a week, Mondays and Wednesdays, to all students after school from 3.15-4.15, and during this time opportunities for independent and collaborative learning are provided along with assistance from two members of staff who have given up their time to help the boys.