St Paul’s Horizon Centre – Enriching the learning experience for Junior School students
The Horizon Centre, the centre for individual learning, is unique to St Paul’s Warragul Junior School. Whilst support and enrichment occurs in every classroom at St Paul’s, the Horizon Centre further enhances classroom learning for students with differing needs by offering individualised and small group support, extension, and enrichment classes for selected students.
We recognise that some students require a greater amount of support or differentiation in pace, level, and content from the regular curriculum. Equally we recognise that every student has individual strengths, and it is important to identify and foster these strengths in all our students.
A fundamental role of the Horizon Centre is to facilitate support for students who are experiencing learning difficulties. They are identified as early as possible, usually through the systematic assessment process that occurs at the end of each semester. Students at risk or who need an extra boost will join a small intervention group for explicit teaching by the Horizon Educational Support Staff, who are trained in the implementation of well researched programs known to improve results. The students attend three or four sessions per week for a semester at a time. Parents are kept well informed of the goals and progress of the program through Individual Learning Plans.
The Horizon Centre also hosts extension classes in Maths and Literacy for students in Year 3 to Year 6. The students are withdrawn from their regular classroom and come together with students of similar ability to be challenged and extended. The Horizon Teacher becomes an extra member of the team of teachers in the core learning areas. This model of extension ensures that all students benefit from smaller classes and focused teaching.
Enrichment classes are a focus at the Horizon Centre with the aim to foster and develop the general abilities of selected students. Students are provided with an opportunity to extend their learning through competitions and extra-curricular activities such as Public Speaking, Maths Olympiad, Australian Mathematics Competition, robotics, story writing competitions and debating. The classes regularly integrate digital technology, for example producing short videos or computer coding, to demonstrate understanding of a concept. In this way students develop their creative skills as well as research skills, technical know-how and presentation skills.
Mrs Lois Smethurst, the Head of the Horizon Centre and the Director of Learning and Teaching at the Warragul Junior School, joined St Paul’s at the start of 2015. She managed the course over the last seven years and believes the program at the Horizon Centre not only offers many wonderful opportunities for the students who participate weekly but benefits all students at the Warragul Junior School.