Refresh the Way we Look at Learning


Nearly two years ago, Camberwell Girls Grammar School started working on a project to refresh the way it looked at learning. What initially began with the intention to develop a program unique to Year 9 students quickly evolved into something that it considered relevant for the learners at CGGS, which was much more than a program. “Rather than thinking about developing a ‘program’ we decided to consider an all-encompassing learning framework instead,” explains Charlotte Forwood, Director of Learning Design & Development.


That’s how the BY DESIGN learning framework was born. The framework details the unique values that underpin who we are at CGGS, as well as the knowledge, skills, and dispositions that contemporary research tells us learners should acquire. BY DESIGN informs the school’s way of thinking and designing; it will become the lens through which all learning experiences will be created at CGGS. “It’s about moving beyond rhetoric and deliberately putting into action what we care about and value as a school and more broadly as educators. It’s a toolkit to activate ideas and ensure best practice,” adds Summer Howarth, the school’s Strategic Assistant.

BY DESIGN is built on the research of educators and organisations with a vested interest in education, such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the Foundation for Young Australians. Design Principles – adding value, making sense of things, taking responsibility and practising wellbeing – underpin what we do and ensure that the decisions we make in relation to students’ learning journeys are rigorous and purposeful. BY DESIGN recognises the need to connect learning to real-world experiences and assists students to understand the ‘why’ of what they are learning, as well as the ‘how’.

“BY DESIGN is bespoke to CGGS; it’s a reflection of who we are and the learners that we seek to shape,” says Kate Manners, Deputy Head of Senior School – Teaching & Learning. “Connection, Grit, Growth and Sustainability will be lived experiences for students and all learners in our community. Students will be able to recognise and articulate for themselves, the dispositions and transferable skills that underpin each of these, in the same way that they can confidently recall the skills and knowledge of their subject learning.”


So how is this learning framework applied to the classroom? To assist teachers with learning design using the new framework, CGGS created a bespoke app. BY DESIGN allows teachers to harness externally driven elements of teaching and learning, such as Australian Curriculum expectations, and then create an educational experience that is dynamic, unique and relevant. It not only guides their planning for learning, but also what happens in the classroom. As each unit of work or learning experience is planned using BY DESIGN, teachers ensure that transferable skills such as collaboration or critical thinking are spotlighted and explicitly taught within the context of a specific discipline or experience.

So, how does introducing BY DESIGN affect students? “Students will see the purpose in their learning more clearly than ever,” explains Kate. “What they’ll be able to show and articulate will not just be the content that has been distilled. They will see the value of the learning process and not just the product of the learning, which although important, ultimately has an expiry date. It will definitely have an impact on graduate outcomes. We know for a fact that employers and tertiary institutions are interested in more than the score students got on their latest Maths test or English essay. They want to know what they learned, how they did it and most importantly, what they would do differently in the future, in order to improve or challenge themselves. This is the narrative of learning that now needs to be told and that’s what CGGS wants to provide its students. BY DESIGN will also highlight the importance of wellbeing to our students with the strong focus on student growth across all areas: academically, physically, socially, spiritually and emotionally.”

CGGS is delighted to be able to officially launch BY DESIGN, a framework which supports a personalised approach to learning, values the whole person and is agile enough to adapt to new expectations such as changes to the learning environment, for example, remote learning. It will be an invaluable asset for the school and its students moving forward and CGGS is thankful to all the staff who worked to make this a reality. “I am really proud of the way that our staff have worked collaboratively and been willing to broaden their thinking. I am proud of the way that our ideas have emerged into something tangible, purposeful, engaging and empowering,” Charlotte adds.


Camberwell Girls Grammar School is committed to fostering the education of young women. At CGGS, girls enjoy not only equal […]

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