Introduced in 2017 with the inaugural cohort of Year 8 students and current Year 7s, our middle school is quite unique. As the only independent secondary school in the Riverland, our middle school begins at Year 7 and is designed to engage the individual learner. It is based on the well-researched premise that we are all uniquely created, have distinct ways of learning and understanding, and personal preferences on how to represent that knowledge.

Students use inquiry-based learning techniques to forge their own individual learning pathway that goes past existing facts, basic knowledge and mandated topics. Increasingly interest-based, and encouraging curiosity and creativity, students often collaborate and integrate, studying multiple disciplines simultaneously (such as science and technology, or art and mathematics).

There are three longer learning sessions across a typical day (rather than 7 or 8 periods) and students stay in their core class with a core teacher for the most part, excepting specialty lessons such as Physical Education, Home Economics, Agriculture or Performing Arts.

In consultation with their teacher and parents, each student develops a Student Learning Pathway (SLP) to identify and pursue their own desired learning outcomes. While still addressing mandated curriculum areas, the outcomes are personalised to ensure relevance and encourage students to challenge themselves in areas of interest. This also means that learners are not learning – or repeating facts – just for the sake of absorbing information, rather seeking knowledge that is of significance to them. They are mentored throughout to inspire curiosity, creativity and entrepreneurship.

Assessment is undertaken against the outcomes committed to in each SLP, and students present findings and knowledge to the community each semester at an Exhibition Night. This allows individuals to determine their own project, decide how they will represent their studies, and express it to others in an engaging and relevant way.

To help introduce this concept to our community, we have developed a Middle School Information booklet, which can be viewed here. If you would like a hard copy, or are interested in more detail, please contact us.

This tree diagram is an example of the kinds of pathways that areas of study could lead to at Rivergum.