Sydney: Innovative Learning Clusters

Sydney, Australia, 2013-17

NoTosh Team

Ewan McIntosh, Hamish Curry, Tom Barrett

Educational Programme Redesign with Design Thinking

The FAIM Group

Four Sydney Headteachers were frustrated by the perception that the Australian curriculum limited teachers. So they invented a fresh and creative approach to learning, and with NoTosh’s help transformed their schools into inspiring educational environments that celebrate the process of learning, and which improve academic outcomes as a result.

Teachers from all four schools (St. Felix, St. Ambrose, Immaculate Heart of Mary, and St. Megs) were introduced to NoTosh Design Thinking and then, with regular coaching over three years, shaped it to create their own processes of inquiry for learning. They adopted new classroom strategies, and developed their own from activities NoTosh might normally have undertaken in different industries altogether.

With fresh horizons opening up in the classroom, some school leadership teams used similar strategies to shed a new light on curriculum planning. Duplication was eliminated, and opportunities for cross-curricular projects were spotted. With an emphasis on discovering and harnessing creative space in the curriculum, rather than focussing on the limitations, teachers began to explore new opportunities for learning.

The impact on teaching and learning has been profound. At one of the schools, St Mel’s, there has been a clear shift in learner agency over the first two years of the change programme. According to an inhouse survey, 71% of students have a strong understanding of how to go about learning something new, compared to 21% before the change programme, and high enjoyment of learning increased from 18% to 75%.

The FAIM team have led from the front, encouraging all their teachers and students to get involved while reinforcing the mindset that failure is a key component of success and that a prototyping culture leads to better, stronger and more fulfilling results for all involved.

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