Courtenay Gardens Primary School is an ambitious and hard-working school in the outer South-eastern suburbs of Melbourne. The innovative learning environment in this school is characterised by a whole school approach to learning, and the use of strategies which enable a consistent and predictive approach for learners. The Innovative Learning Environment at Courtenay Gardens Primary School has been developed in response to a number of societal factors with regards to children’s backgrounds. The area from which students come to school is classified as an area of relative disadvantage.
Courtenay Gardens Primary School has been strongly influenced by the work of Douglas Reeves (Reeves, 2006. Staff have been especially interested in the ways in that Reeves provides strategies which turn around underperforming schools as measured on standardised testing. The success of these schools, Reeves identified, was based on five common elements:
- A focus on academic achievement
- Clear curriculum choices
- Frequent assessment of student progress and multiple opportunities for improvement
- An emphasis on nonfiction writing
- Collaborative scoring of student work
These five elements are easily identified within this innovative learning environment. Initially focussing on the teaching and learning of non-fiction writing, the school now measures significant increases in achievement in localised standardised testing. This success has led to more recent innovations, including a rich multimedia program. Courtenay Gardens Primary School has received numerous awards for their continued improvement in student and staff data, and provide professional learning to other schools to help increase others’ student learning outcomes.
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