Big Project for Big Picture

Big Bold Project in Western Australia

Big Picture Education Australia and Murdoch University have joined in a far-reaching project with several Western Australian schools.

For four years, the schools will work with the University and Big Picture creating new futures for students and teachers.

Big Picture Education Australia (BPEA) is collaborating with five schools in the Rockingham and Mandurah regions to develop Big Picture Academies. Murdoch University is providing significant funding (approx. $1 million over the four years from the Federal Government) for the management and implementation of the project, the training and development of the teachers and leaders involved and the associated research and evaluation.

The context for this collaboration is the Review of Australian Higher Education (Bradley, et al. 2008) which wants to increase the capacity for Australia to “have enough highly skilled people able to adapt to the uncertainties of a rapidly changing future” (2008, p xi):

  • Australia will increase it’s proportion of 25-34 years olds with a degree from 29% (2008) to 40% by 2020.  (Recommendation #2)
  • By 2020, 20% of undergraduate enrolments should be students from low-SES backgrounds.  (Recommendation #3) 

The Schools

The schools currently working with Big Picture to develop agreements/Compacts are:

  • Halls Head Community College already has a year 10 Big Picture group this year and plans to expand to a year 11 and then a year 12 group in the next two years.
  • Warnbro Community High School is currently exploring how they will develop an academy using the Big Picture design.
  • Tranby College is planning to start a year 9 BP group in 2014 with the intention of growing year by year in the future.
  • South Metropolitan Youth Link (SMYL) College is using the Big Picture design with their year 10 students and then implementing the design across the college over the next two years.
  • Rockingham Montessori Adolescent Program is already working on merging the Montessori approach with elements of the Big Picture design. They currently have small group of students in years 7 to 11.

Murdoch University Aspirations and Pathways for University Project: MAP4U

The Big Picture Academy Program is one of four innovative programs being offered to schools under Murdoch’s Aspirations and Pathways for University Project. The other three are: ‘Building Academic Aspirations and Achievement’; ‘Innovative Curriculum and Pedagogy’; and ‘University Enabling Programs’.

The deep purpose is to develop sustainable programs that will grow the number of eligible, willing and able students who attend university from the region.

Support for existing BP Schools

Murdoch University also supports two other schools already working with Big Picture Education Australia – Thornlie Senior High School and Yule Brook College. The MAP4U project schools will to draw on the expertise and experience of these schools. New staff to these schools will also be able to participate in all aspects of the training, development and research.

The Federal Government’s Higher Education Participation and Pathways Program funds this part of the work.

Alternative Entry to University

One of the great aspects of this project will be exploring how Big Picture students can graduate to university using alternative entry mechanisms. BPEA and Murdoch University are working together to explore the possibilities. 

Great potential for Partners

This project is good for all the participants.

Murdoch University wants to increase the number of students from the Kwinana, Rockingham and Mandurah regions who enrol in university and have the capacity, skills and knowledge to succeed when they get there.

BPEA aims to influence school education in Australia through the implementation of a new design for schooling with the purpose of re-engaging students in learning and improving their chances of graduating to university, TAFE or significant work.

The schools aim to give the best opportunity to the students. They want students to have powerful learning and the opportunity to go on to university. Teachers want to build their opportunities to learn.

Together BPEA and Murdoch University and the schools wish to develop innovative, nationally significant approaches to: student entry to university, and post-graduate study for teachers and leaders.

Student Success

The goal of each Big Picture Academy is for students to succeed. That is, they will be in a position to pursue their interests beyond school whether that be university, TAFE, training or substantial work - and when they get there - they will know they have the capacity, disposition and the confidence to succeed

Student selection is a school-based issue but there is an expectation that they be invited to apply for then the BP Academy through an enrolment process involving their family (and not just allocated to the group).

Some of the students we seek to enrol include:

• a student streamed out of the ‘top’ class but showing an interest in learning and achievement

• a student who is ‘failing’ in a ‘top’ class but not wanting to give up on their dream of tertiary entrance.

• a student who has begun year 11, enrolled in an academic course but now failing

• a student who is a bright ‘spark’ but bored with school and not working

• any student who, with their family, want to work in this way.

Exciting Research Project

The funding is going to enable a multi-faceted and multi-method research project.

We intend tracking each and every student from this year all the way through to beyond school. We are going to explore with a sample of the students the interaction between their life and school.

We will develop case studies of each school with a BP Academy within it to test its fidelity to the BP design, to check its viability as a program within a larger school and to assess the issues related to sustainability.

The teachers and some leaders will be involved in an ongoing research circle where participants can give and get feedback on their work, work on shared concerns, learn from each other’s successes, develop new products and to document their work and their learning.

MAP4U is a tremendous opportunity for BPEA to participate in, and influence, new initiatives as they evolve.

More to Come…

This is a great opportunity for several Western Australia schools to work with exciting new ideas.

We will publish updates as the project progresses.