The ASPIRE class is a selective program that engages high achieving students in Stage Four. Admission into the Year 7 class is through the successful completion of an external assessment, prepared and evaluated by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER). Selected students from the ACER assessment are then required to complete an interview, conducted by the Deputy Principal and ASPIRE Coordinator. Placements in the class are reviewed after every Semester and high-performing students from across the grade are provided with the opportunity to enter the ASPIRE class.
The ASPIRE program is delivered across all major Key Learning Areas (KLA’s) and there is a consistent focus for teachers to provide lessons that incorporate higher order thinking strategies and activities that develop 21st Century learning skills. Project Based Learning (PBL) and Advanced Skill Projects (ASP) are planned throughout the year and run across multiple KLA’s. These projects follow an instructional approach designed to give students the opportunity to develop knowledge and skills through engaging projects set around challenges and problems they may face in the real world. PBL and ASP’s provide an opportunity for students to engage deeply with the content, bringing about a focus on long term retention and a positive attitude towards learning.
Personalised Learning plans are created for each student. Through interviews the students identify goals that focus on literacy, numeracy and personal interests. The students also outline measurable strategies to help them work towards achieving their goals. The Personalised Learning Plans and students progress is reviewed each semester. Integrating personal learning goals motivates students to become more active participants in the learning process and helps them identify what us important to their own learning.
ASPIRE students have the opportunity to engage in a number of activities and events coordinated by the University of Wollongong. The major program is the UOW STEM+X Mentor program that links Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) strategies with areas of passion, creativity, interest and purpose. Incorporating these activities into the ASPIRE program adds value to the school curriculum by working with students to navigate and achieve their academic goals, whilst enabling their aspirations to participate in higher education.
Parent and carer engagement are a high priority for the ASPIRE program. Contact and updates on student work is provided on a fortnightly basis. Parent/carer and student information evenings are held every term and focus on providing knowledge through study skills workshops, mindfulness activities and relaxation methods. The information evenings also include showcase sessions where the students display their work and engage visitors in interactive activities and challenges. Parent and carer engagement is important as it plays a pivotal role in developing student motivation, confidence and enjoyment of learning.