Dear PLC Sydney Community

video-gallery-sidebar-icon Click the image to watch Vlog #5 From The Principal - Challenging our Years 9 and 10.

How do we best supplement student learning in their middle years? Traditionally a time when students have not been encouraged to really challenge themselves, PLC Sydney is seeking to alter the trend.

At the commencement of the 2016 school year four PLC Sydney teachers set aside time to examine and program some exciting new Cambridge International STEM courses for Years 910:

  • Technology – a course focusing on coding and skilling students for the 21st Century.
  • Physics – a course at a higher level than Cambridge Physical Sciences and which assists in preparation for the HSC.
  • Chemistry  a course at a higher level than Cambridge Physical Sciences and which assists in preparation for the HSC.
  • Mathematics – a course with options that are further advanced than the current Years 910 NSW syllabus, and which assists in preparation for the HSC.

Our teachers have now made recommendations for the 2017 school year. It is very important that students find the level of learning that is suitable for them in their middle years. For some the Board of Studies courses will be the best option. Others will require further challenge. Cambridge courses can assist these students. As a result:

1. Technology is being offered as an elective to Year 9/2017. This is another piece of the jigsaw puzzle of (STEM) technology education at PLC Sydney: Ms Martins already teaches coding, robotics and technology to Years Pre-K6.; we already offer a UNSW First Year University course in Computer Science to Year 11 and we have a Robotics Club in the senior school. Now we have a fully recognised international course as an elective for the middle years. The map for learning coding, robotics and related technologies stretches from Pre-K to Year 11.

2. The new Physics and Chemistry courses will be part of the curriculum for very capable science students in Year 9/2017. Physics and Chemistry are the most challenging Cambridge courses in the ‘hard’ sciences. If we are to be a leading STEM school we need to educate students very thoughtfully in the most challenging aspects of the sciences. These students will select to replace an elective with this new course. Teachers will offer the Cambridge course during the time allocated to the regular Year 9 Science lessons, and teach Biology, Geology and Astronomy elements of the traditional BOSTES course during the elective periods. Traditionally Science has had nine lessons per fortnight and electives have received six lessons. This process enables us to offer a very high- evel Science to students who have shown the capacity to operate at this level.

The overall structure in the sciences in Years 910 will be:

  • All students will complete the NSW Board of Studies Science course. This course is very well taught at PLC Sydney and enables students to achieve a very good result in the sciences. This is the only Science subject that would be available at most selective schools.

  • Students who wish to extend their understanding in the sciences can elect to take Physical Sciences alongside the NSW Board of Studies course. This has been a very popular course that has stretched each student who has taken it. 

  • Students with a particular aptitude for the sciences can take the most challenging Cambridge courses: the individual subjects of Physics and Chemistry.

  • Note: students cannot take both Physical Sciences and Physics/Chemistry.

  • Cambridge Mathematics will be taught concurrent to the Board of Studies Mathematics course to accelerant students in Year 8/2017. Mathematics has already been through a process of differentiating the curriculum for all students.

Other Cambridge courses that are already on offer are:

  • Global Perspectives – a humanities course teaching research skills.
  • History – a high level course examining historical sources and teaching analytical skills.
  • Philosophy and Theology  a high level course looking at the history of thought.

We also offer:

  • Vivid – a course to teach students who would really like to improve their English how to use the language for academic purposes very well.
  • English as an Additional Language support – we actively teach academic language to students who are not so familiar with English.
  • Cambridge AS level General Studies. 

PLC Sydney is the only independent school in NSW which has decided to target Years 910 in this manner. We are very excited by the progress to date and will set aside further staff time in 2017 to develop further courses.

Dr Paul Burgis