As a co-educational pre-K to 12 school on one campus, Hills Grammar has a unique opportunity to provide smooth transitions from one traditional section of schooling to the next. While each stage of learning and teaching has its unique qualities, teachers meet together as a whole faculty to share ideas and experiences to achieve a longer-term view of education. In tandem with the Student Wellbeing and Co-curricular programs, the Academic Program is driven by the School Vision: a place of extraordinary education, a place of inspiration and innovation.
Hills Grammar offers a broad and rich academic curriculum, with our ECEC, Infants and Primary programs going beyond National and State requirements through the adoption of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program. Our Senior School (Years 7 to 12) operates within the New South Wales Board of Studies curriculum requirements, leading to an excellent range of Higher School Certificate (HSC) courses in Years 11 and 12. The curriculum at Hills Grammar draws on the best of academic traditions, including the discipline of learning, while also looking for ways to be innovative and forward-thinking as we prepare our students for the future.
In promoting a culture of critical and creative thinking at Hills Grammar, we have worked closely with Harvard Project Zero consultant Mark Church. In ‘Creating Cultures of Thinking’, fellow Harvard researcher Ron Ritchhart writes, 'culture is the hidden tool in transforming our schools and offering our students the best learning possible .... It will determine how any curriculum comes to life'. The Academic Program is thus best understood as comprising of not only the curriculum (what is taught) but the approach to learning and teaching of that curriculum (how it is taught). Innovation in the classroom means drawing out the best of academic traditions and looking for deep connections across traditional subjects, supported by our comprehensive 1:1 iPad/Tablet PC program, K to 12. Our academic programs cater for students from Early Childhood through to Year 12 and supports the opportunities that come by completing the New South Wales Higher School Certificate. The School has an excellent reputation for HSC results. More than this, we aim to develop lifelong learners who leave School ready to take on the challenges of the future.
We nurture students beyond the HSC, to consider their future aspirations and the habits of mind that characterise a high quality education.
Our Early Childhood Education Centre for 3 – 5 year olds delivers programs based on the Early Learning Years Framework for learning: Belonging, Being & Becoming. This framework is brought to life through the world-renowned Reggio Emilia philosophy which recognises that children are born with an innate sense of curiosity and wonder about the world in which they live. As an IB World School, the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program also guides our learning program in terms of how we organise our curriculum. The framework, the approach to learning, and the curriculum are aligned to the central notion of play-based learning, with a focus on encouraging and developing children’s interests, ideas, skills and needs in preparation for School.
ECEC staff and families work together to create and evaluate an individual goal for each child to work towards each term. As part of this, each child is programmed for and taught both individually and as part of a group. Families and staff meet regularly to discuss each child’s progress.
As an IB World School, our curriculum reflects both the requirements of the Australian Curriculum in NSW (Board of Studies) and The International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program. The International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Program (PYP) is for students aged 3-12.
What is the PYP?
The PYP prepares students to become active, caring, lifelong learners who demonstrate respect for themselves and others and have the capacity to participate in the world around them. It focuses on the development of the whole child as an inquirer, both within and beyond the classroom. It provides schools with a curriculum framework of essential elements — the knowledge, concepts, skills, attitudes, and action that young students need to equip them for successful lives, both now and in the future. Schools work with the five elements to construct a rigorous and challenging primary curriculum for international education. The PYP aims to create a curriculum that is engaging, relevant, challenging and significant for learners in the 3–12 age range. The curriculum is transdisciplinary, meaning that it focuses on issues that go across subject areas.
Each day the students experience uninterrupted morning lessons for context-rich literacy and numeracy development with Learning Enrichment staff providing additional in-class support.
Specialist teachers, facilities and resources are an integral part of the Junior School curriculum. Lessons in a Language other than English, Music, PDHPE and Visual Arts add to a rich and challenging curriculum.
Our rigorous, research-based approach to numeracy development in the Junior School is based on the Learning in Early Numeracy (K – 2) and Learning in Numeracy (3 – 6) programs.
Our Whole School Pedagogy is based on four key principles, captured in the acronym GLAD: Guided Inquiry, Learner-Centred teaching, Assessment for Learning and Differentiation. As students enter Year 7, we build on their inquiry skills and aptitudes through specialised subject lessons, and where appropriate, interdisciplinary learning. This may occur through deliberate curriculum linkages (as in our Honours ‘Environmental Science’ course in Years 7 and 8) or through enrichment programs. As an example, all students in Years 7-9 participate in an enjoyable and challenging project-based STEM activity in Term 4 each year.
Hills Grammar has a unique, School-developed Honours Program which assists our core principle of differentiation. The Academic Honours Programs develop advanced thinking and intellectual curiosity, with separate programs designed to extend the learning of our most able students in Years 7 – 8: Humanities (integrated English, History, Latin), Mathematics, Environmental Science (integrated Science and Geography) and Years 9 – 10: English, Mathematics, Science, History, Geography. All students benefit from an academically stimulating curriculum based on challenge and flexibility.
Some other features of the Senior School Academic Program include;
- Study Skills and Time Management programs to support the learning of students in Years 7-12
- Study Conferences for Years 11 and 12 to assist with examination preparation, time management and study skills
- An Academic Mentor Program for Year 12 students involving academic staff leaders working daily with small groups of students. This builds on mentoring within our House program in Years 7 to 11
- A rigorous approach to the analysis of NAPLAN results each year leading to improved student learning outcomes.
- An online learning management system providing students with access to key resources and opportunities to learn beyond the classroom.
- A 1:1 Tablet PC Program to support student learning with fully-resourced hybrid Tablet/Laptops provided to each student in Years 7-12 and supported by staff learning and aligned pedagogy.
A Comprehensive Learning Enrichment Program provides support and a differentiated curriculum for students with individual learning needs, including Gifted and Talented programs. A G&T Coordinator supports students in K to 6; our Honours Program caters for highly able students in Years 7-10, while the full range of extension courses challenge our Year 11-12 students.
Hills International Education (HIE) provides international students with intensive English lessons in preparation for moving into mainstream High School classes. The students study on campus and are integrated into their year groups for lessons such as Mathematics, PDHPE and House Tutor groups. HIE is a nurturing environment with only 10-20 students and several dedicated staff caring for their academic and wellbeing needs. Please visit our Hills International Education page for more detailed information.