SHAPING young minds and creating opportunities for students to flourish as young adults is at the forefront of the Kurri Kurri High School ethos.
The comprehensive high school draws students from within the town and a number of rural communities nearby, offering a variety of resources and incorporating more modern, non-traditional learning techniques including the Big Picture Education Australia (BPEA) program.
Kurri Kurri principal Tracey Breese has worked with the students for the past four years and said she is proud to be developing new methods of learning in the school community.
"We're looking at all the elements around student well-being and helping them to determine their own strengths," she said, adding students were encouraged to learn about both their personal strengths and the areas where they need to focus more energy.
"We have advisory time with each student and we're able to help them set goals for the year ahead."
Mrs Breese said introducing new learning techniques at Kurri Kurri was exciting but also a challenge for both staff and students.
"It's a very innovative way of teaching that we have at Kurri Kurri - they don't do science, maths and English in Years 7 and 8, they have Quest, Stem and Lifestyle instead.
"We've been able to amalgamate a number of curriculum areas to show life is not learned in subjects and learning in such siloed ways is not the way of the world anymore."
Mrs Breese said the school had already seen a reduction in suspensions and classroom disruption.
"It has totally changed the independence level of our kids. We don't have raised hands in the classroom - instead, they talk collaboratively," she said, adding the innovative schooling methods were producing positive data on the success of the program.
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"When you're doing something innovative, there is no data because you're creating the data as you go. Schooling for us was successful and it's hard to get older people to understand it's not the same for this generation.
"The proof is in the number of students we have coming to the school - we have over 800 students this year and we'll have more than 900 in 2020."
Mrs Breese acknowledged that the unwavering support of her staff was appreciated by both herself and the students.
"I love the passion and the energy of my staff in working really hard, every day, to make our kids successful at life," she said.