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High Achievers Academy

Charles Sturt University – St Columba Anglican School 2021 Pilot Program

Background

St Columba Anglican School and Charles Sturt University acknowledge that the transition to tertiary education can be stressful for students, as the Higher School Certificate curriculum and style of education it uses are significantly different to the mode of teaching and learning students encounter at university.

“Although some students breeze straight through it, the transition from school to tertiary study isn’t always easy. It may be that the work is harder or that subjects are unfamiliar, or perhaps the stress of a new environment or new commitments proves a little more difficult than expected. Sudden independence can also seem like a difficult adjustment and may require some getting used to. Some students embrace the sense of freedom that comes with finishing school, but it’s not uncommon to struggle when faced with becoming self-reliant. Living away from home for the first time or living on a student income can also cause some stress.”  The transition from school to tertiary study.”  The Good Universities Guide.

The first year out of high school can be daunting for many, especially those transitioning from their final school year into university. They often find:

  • a foreign environment; 
  • different teachers and teaching style;
  • increased requirement for self-discipline; 
  • new classmates and 
  • unfamiliar subjects and assignment types. 

These can all — understandably — leave students feeling overwhelmed and potentially a little “out of their depth”. While the traditional school contract with parents and students, theoretically, ends at graduation, we believe we have a moral obligation to provide our students with the skills and attitudes that will enhance their opportunities for success at university.

Addressing this issue, St Columba Anglican School and Charles Sturt University have developed a project that will allow senior Secondary students to prepare for and seamlessly transition into university study, as part of “The Bridge Project”.

In 2021, students in Stage 6 at St Columba will have access to a course that, on successful completion, will ensure them a place at Charles Sturt University.
The launch of the Bridge Program and the High Achievers Academy

The Bridge Project has been created to focus on our students:

  • taking greater responsibility for their educational success;
  • developing more as independent learners;
  • learning how to prioritise tasks effectively;
  • being able to adapt to different models of tasks and assessments;
  • developing executive function skills.

Executive Function Skills: Executive functions are the skills that allow us to complete tasks by making decisions and problem-solving. In school, teachers provide scaffolding for students — even in high school. Teachers organize projects for students, create intermediate deadlines for planning and set aside time in class for students to work on the project itself. As a result, students don’t develop the executive functioning skills they need to be successful at university. They then struggle to finish their degrees. Instead of planning for students, teachers need to teach students how to plan out larger projects for themselves. Students need opportunities to practice self-talk or to work through difficult situations and the decision-making process. Even requiring students to participate in an extra-curricular activity, the arts, or sports can help build those executive functioning skills.

We believe this project will see our students’ aspirations rise, as engagement with the successful Secondary model of St Columba merges with the Charles Sturt University experience.


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