Pacific Palms Public School topped Australia's primary schools for innovation

Ethan Morante, Zennon Lawson (front) Jack Dries, Keira Judson, assistant principal Lyn Woods, principal Melissa Merchant and Rhyana Mcsweeny

Ethan Morante, Zennon Lawson (front) Jack Dries, Keira Judson, assistant principal Lyn Woods, principal Melissa Merchant and Rhyana Mcsweeny

At the rate the world is changing, innovation has never been more important. One of the biggest challenges facing educators is preparing the next generation for a world far removed from the one we know today.

Pacific Palms Primary School has been listed in the top schools in Australia that have done just that.

Australian senior education management magazine The Educator received hundreds of applications from across the country, and created a shortlist of just 40 of the country’s most innovative schools. 

Pacific Palms Public School was named one of the top 40 innovative schools in Australia

Pacific Palms Public School was named one of the top 40 innovative schools in Australia

Of the 40 schools, Pacific Palms was one of just 15 public schools listed, with even less primary institutions making the list.

Part of the professional learning community Bump It Up, Pacific Palms has recently adapted its curriculum to highlight and develop numeracy and literally skills across all of its classes. 

With this focus, principal Melissa Merchant and the other teachers have developed the concept of ‘collective genius’.

This is a research based approach to teaching, based off a long term strategic plan to improve performance. A strong focus on instilling in the students high expectations and motivation to achieve excellence is at the core of the collective genius concept.

Teaching students to be accountable for their education by helping them set goals and take ownership of their learning has seen the school’s academic results improve beyond sight. 

“The NAPLAN results of every single student have improved since we started using the collective genius approach,” principal, Mel Merchant said.

“As a school, we are now performing above the State average.”

The school has invested in a large number of learning tools to help improve numeracy and literacy skills, including calculators and other mathematical gear, and a variety of new textbooks.

“Having a bigger range of learning material means that each student can progress at their own speed, no one gets held back or forgotten, everyone is moving forward.” Mel said.

Another focus of the collective genius approach is continued training of all staff, and recognising individual qualities by encouraging teachers to lead training in areas that emphasis their strengths. 

Teachers also take part in instructional rounds, where they observe the teaching styles used by colleagues in the classroom, giving feedback and learning from each other. 

Since the award, Mel and assistant principal Lyn Woods have been invited to speak about their collective genius approach at various conferences, including a State event in Sydney, attended by more than 400 people.

“It’s great to have the validation that what we are doing is working, and the students get a chance to have their hard work recognised,” Lyn said.

This is the third year of the award, and with a record number of nominations, this achievement is an extraordinary feat for Pacific Palms Public School, which, with only 334 students, is one of the smaller schools to receive the award.

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