Educational performance at school can vary depending on the gender of the student – but there can be a wide range of contributing factors, many of which can be improved by an effective learning environment. In addressing the educational needs of boys, our aim at St Mary’s is to provide an environment where the widely-held social perceptions of men and boys can be challenged and boys can embrace a healthier, more constructive definition of what it is to be male.
The curriculum at St Mary’s is designed to engage the interests of boys and the teaching strategies are chosen in order to meet the needs of all learners. Our understanding of boys allows them to undertake risks at stages appropriate to their development and within a supportive, encouraging environment.
In the recent past, the College has been able to access the expertise of many experts and advisors in the area of boys learning, including Steve Biddulph and Ian Lillico. The College and the teaching staff have incorporated many of the suggestions from these and others, in order to create a school where boys learning and engagement is maximised. Some of the strategies used at St Mary’s include:
- Curriculum design that connects with boys’ interest areas
- Careful design and scaffolding of assessment tasks
- Programs that enable the demonstration of care and concern for others
- Classroom planning that emphasises dynamic learning (such as interactive or hands-on resources)
- Optimal ‘teaching to doing’ ratios (Ian Lillico)
- Opportunities for reflection and self-analysis to enable realistic planning