Even progressive principals might baulk at surrendering school management control to individual students – but that’s the situation at Templestowe College, where the students make the rules, to which management has a ‘yes’ rule.

“We acknowledge it’s the student’s learning – not their parents or ours as educators –and as such it is they who must take full responsibility,” says principal Peter Hutton.

With input from parents, each student develops an Individualised Learning Plan with a five-year time horizon, which they can then adapt flexibly themselves. If they have established the necessary literacy and numeracy skills, they are able to select 100% of their study load from more than 130 options. Something not on the list? No problem. It can be designed as a ‘Personalised Learning Project’.

The school’s approach doesn’t stop there. 

There are no year levels, so students can study at their own ability level – and only what interests them. They can choose when they start, and when they finish. Students help run the school, having positions on the leadership group and the curriculum team, and performing many basic jobs. Students have a say in who teaches and mentors them, and even sit on selection panels for new teachers.

“Our community has grown from 350 to 700 in five years,” says Hutton. “We have learnt a lot about what works and what doesn’t when redefining what ‘school’ can be, and are keen to share ideas,” he says.

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