Academic Challenge and Extension

In all areas of teaching and learning, we aim for excellence and the highest educational outcomes within a collaborative, nurturing learning environment.  Taking responsible risks is encouraged, success is rewarded and disappointment acknowledged.  Mercedes College encourages students to be self-directed, collaborative critical thinkers who will take ownership of their educational journey and persevere to achieve their personal best.  The focus is on continuous learning that will provide the spititual, social, physical and emotional development needed to achieve personal fulfilment.

From 2017 the College will introudce a new model of Academic Challenge and Extension across the four learning areas of English, Mathematics, Science, and Social Science.  A streamed class will exist in each learning area to cater for those highly capable students from Years 7 or 8 until the end of Year 10.  Student selection will be based on performance in each area, and placement may be in one or a number of these extension classes.  From year to year the composition of these classes may change in accordance with student performance.

  • Mathematics will commence in Semester 2 of Year 7
  • English, Science and Social Science will commence in Year 8

In each learning area of the Academic Challenge and Extension classes students will experience a challenging learning environment that broadens experiences and deepens understanding.  Through both enrichment that broadens experiences and deepens understanding.  Through both enrichment and extension, these highly capable students will be provided with opportunities to engage in a  range of academic competitions and extension activities, including guest-presenters and exursions.

Accelerated Learning Program

Mercedes College has had a long and successful tradition of providing for students with special additional learning needs. Differentiated Learning is a priority in all classrooms and the academic results of the College are historically high. 80 to 85% of Year 12 students aspire to and achieve university entrance whilst certificate courses, workplace learning, the STRIVE program and traineeships provide opportunities for students who are interested in either enhancing their academic results or pursuing other pathways.  

Research has also shown that there are students achieving in the top 10% of their peer group, who underachieve, often deliberately, to avoid discrimination. These students traditionally succeed in their classes. They achieve at the higher ends of their expected levels and seem to understand everything that is taught to them at school. Despite their success, many are still not achieving at their full potential.  In 2014 the Accelerated Learning Program at Mercedes College was established to cater for these students. 

Acceleration is a learning intervention that moves students through an educational program at rates faster than typical. The level, complexity and pace of the learning and teaching are matched to the readiness and motivation of the student. Some students have the capacity to cover core content of the curriculum more rapidly than other students of their own age. Acceleration enhances learning so that the highest achieving students have the capacity to:

  • Learn at faster rates
  • Find, solve and act on problems more readily
  • Manipulate abstract ideas and make connections.  (VanTassel-Baska 1988)

The accelerated curriculum is flexible allowing time for in-depth exploration of content, manipulation of ideas and questions that require higher order thinking and a learning environment that better meets the needs of the highest achieving students. Acceleration often helps these students ‘find others with common interests and helps develop a sense of real belonging’ (Sale College’s SEAL coordinator, Debbi Daff).

Students in the ALP study Religious Education, Electives, Health and Physical Education and ‘Learning to Learn’ with their year level cohort. To ensure appropriate social development, they are in a Homeroom group with their mainstream peers. There is no exemption from any part of the academic program.

Accelerated learning is offered in English, Mathematics, Social Science and Science. Mercedes College recognises the importance of the sequential development in each of these study areas and the role that maturation plays in the success of an individual student’s academic outcomes.

The Accelerated Learning Program and the ALP class structure conclude at the end of Year 9.  The progress of individual students at the conclusion of Year 9 will be considered in determining placement in Year 10 classes. Students will have the opportunity to then move into Year 10 classes that will broaden and deepen their understanding of core subject areas to better prepare them for Upper School.

Please note: There will be no intake of Year 7 students to the Accelerated Learning Program in 2017.

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