Upskill … BY DESIGN | Camberwell Girls Grammar School


Upskill … BY DESIGN is another way that Camberwell Girls Grammar School guides its students in their learning journey.

Finding time in the school calendar for new events to take place is always a challenge. However, a team of enthusiastic senior school staff at Camberwell Girls Grammar School was certainly up for the challenge to ensure the school could offer its new Upskill … BY DESIGN program.

Off the back of the 2020 COVID-19 lockdowns, the school made the decision to continue to run its Parent/Teacher Learning Conversations online, which in turn enabled the Upskill Program to run at the same time.

Head of Strategic Initiatives, Kate Manners, says the traditional format of Learning Conversations saw students go home at lunchtime to enable parents and staff to meet on site throughout the afternoon and evening.

“There is now no need for students to finish at lunchtime as parents and staff meet virtually for their Learning Conversations,” says Kate. “As a result, we now have six full days each year to carry out Upskill, which runs parallel to the Learning Conversations.”

To upskill means to expand your capabilities and this is exactly why the CGGS Upskill Program was designed. The program encompasses the delivery of accredited and non-accredited short courses, co-curricular experiences and other pop-up learning opportunities for all year levels – delivered by staff, industry professionals and, in some instances, students.

Across all year levels, students have the opportunity to achieve CGGS micro-credentials, certifying their achievements in specific skills or capabilities that contribute to their digital portfolio. Students can then share these qualifications with employers, industry and tertiary institutions.

Each year level participates in a bespoke program that is aligned with their learning spotlight – Belonging at Year 7, Identity at Year 8, Co-design at Year 9, Exploring at Year 10, Independence at Year 11, and Connection & Opportunity at Year 12.

“The learning programs recognise that as students move through the school, they become more independent, and their self-efficacy and self-regulation improve,” says Kate. “We know that we need to apprentice students in Years 7, 8 and 9 into those self-regulatory behaviours that are more prominent in our older students. Upskill helps to equip them with these capabilities.”

The content for each Upskill day is tailored to be responsive to the needs of each year level, for example, there is a focus on financial literacy for Year 10 students. This is an important life skill for women, but sits under a broader exploration of gender equality, a topic the school wanted to amplify learning around.

“Financial intelligence is about students being unapologetic advocates of themselves and their gender,” says Kate. “While exploring this topic isn’t a panacea to every issue affecting women, it does position our students to be empowered to pursue financial independence for themselves in the future and be forearmed against the challenges that may arise.”

As a school community, acknowledgement and celebration of Aboriginal culture is embedded as part of CGGS does. One of the Year 8 Upskill days focused on Indigenous Australian knowledge and traditions, which ties in with their spotlight of Identity.

“Some of our Indigenous students, including graduates from Melbourne Indigenous Transition School (MITS), created a workshop called Deadly Learning for the Year 8s,” says Kate. “They took responsibility for leading the girls through the activities they’d designed, providing them with a deeper understanding of why it’s important to keep Aboriginal culture alive.”

For students who are keen to find part-time work, Upskill also offers barista, food handling, RSA and first aid courses – some of which take place online.

“Elements of each year level’s Upskill program also allow students to become more familiar with self-directed online learning, as the school recognises that workplaces are increasingly moving towards ‘team anywhere’ models, where these skills will be key,” says Kate.

Every Upskill day also has time dedicated to wellbeing activities. A block of time is set aside for wellbeing and is open to students, their families and staff. Looking at the mind, body and soul, a curated range of activities are intended to revive, refocus, recalibrate and reconnect and can all be accessed on a custom-designed website.

From yoga classes and colour by number, to motivational TED Talks, boxing classes and partaking in random acts of kindness, cooking classes and learning magic tricks – the list of wellbeing activities is endless.

Kate believes that schools are the cultural pulse of society, and therefore they need to be dynamic communities willing to be responsive to what the future is going to be for our students.

“While we’re only in the first iteration of this program, it certainly enables us to provide opportunities for our students to explore and operate in spaces that reflect the future, not just the now,” says Kate.

To know that this new learning opportunity was born out of how CGGS adapted to restrictions in 2020 makes the school very proud, it shows that with agility, a negative situation can be turned into a positive new opportunity.

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Camberwell Girls Grammar School


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

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