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Hunter Sports High School

Hunter Sports High School

Personalising Pathways

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Learning Distinguishers

Big Picture Academy

Hunter Sports High School's Big Picture Academy believes that learning opportunities are everywhere, not just inside classrooms. Where we have passion for what we are doing, knowledge unfolds and evolves naturally. Research tells us that we learn best when we are personally motivated.

Big Picture Education programs are committed to educating "one student at a time" in a community of learners. Underpinning this approach is the belief that each student has a unique set of interests, needs and capabilities around which personalised learning plans are designed. Big Picture schools create students who are life-long learners. 

Big Picture Learning design is a dynamic approach to learning, doing and thinking. The program is based on three foundational principles:

  • first, that learning must be based on the interests and goals of each student;
  • secondly, a student’s learning experiences must be relevant to people and places that exist in the real world;
  • finally, that a student’s abilities are demonstrated authentically by the quality of her or his work.

Teaching in the Big Picture Program is founded on flexible and negotiated, highly individualised learning plan.

The Learning Plan covering the 5 learning goals drives the students learning. The LP is developed by the student, Advisor and the family, it is highly individualised to ensure each student is provided plenty of opportunities to grow and develop.


An Advisory is a small community within the Big Picture school. Students remain with the same Advisory for two to four years. This is so they will get to understand and know each other and the Advisory teacher very well, and vice versa. In this way Advisories become great support systems. The Advisory is like an extended family. Within this system, every student has an adult in the school who cares about him or her deeply. 

In Advisory, students are asked to plan their day and week in their school diary. They use their Learning Plan to set goals. Weekly goals are written in their school diary, and students build a large monthly/weekly calendar together to schedule work and activities. Advisory teachers look over student work and project updates. They collect and check journals regularly. The students set goals for their work together in the advisory. They set personal goals, group goals and whole of advisory goals. They set goals for the day, the week, the month, the term and the year. They set review and restate these goals over time.

Individual Learning Plans and the Learning Goals

Each student has different strengths, passions, interests, needs and learning preferences. Therefore each student has a focussed, individual Learning Plan that is tailored to meet those individual interests and needs. This plan is the map of a student’s journey through their Big Picture school experience and will be at the forefront of all their work. No two Learning Plans will be exactly the same. The Advisory teacher ensures the Learning Plans focus on different Learning Goals throughout the year leading to a well rounded educational plan.

Big Picture schools set high standards for student work which culminates in a highly personalised Learning Plan.  The Learning Plan includes five Learning Goals have been identified as the key for all students to become successful learners.  The Learning Goals cut across all learning areas, and do not distinguish between academic and vocational pathways. Students relate all the work they do in and out of school to this set of Learning Goals. Students’ curriculum is the sum total of their school experience. At a Big Picture school every student’s curriculum is created around personal interest. 

Learning Through Internships

Students explore new things and identify their interests within the Big Picture school.

They also expand their interests and challenge themselves in new ways. Students take

advantage of as many opportunities as they can as well as develop work that they are truly passionate about.

Learning through Internship (LTI) is a core structure of all Big Picture schools. It involves students being placed 2-days per week in a work place in an area of their interest. They are placed with a mentor – an expert in that work.  Big Picture internships focus on students doing real work in professional settings in the real world. This gives the students’ learning context and depth. Students are encouraged to explore their interests and passions in life through a guided planning process, as part of their work in Advisory and through their LTI placement each term.

Assessment and feedback – Exhibitions

Exhibitions are public presentations by students about what they have done and what they have learned, and are held at the end of every school term. Students give an oral presentation on their personal Learning Plan (LP) and Learning Through Internship (LTI) work. The audience may consist of the advisory teacher, parents, peers, mentors and other teachers.  Big Picture schools personalise learning for every student and Exhibitions provide an authentic way to assess each student's learning and development.

Future focussed learning - Technology

Future focused learning is about looking at the most effective way at preparing our students for THEIR futures. Enabling students to learn how to construct knowledge and create solutions for complex problems, moving away from a heavy focus on knowledge consumption to allow students to think creatively and critically.  Seamless and purposeful integration of technology in Big Picture design provides future-focused learning and teaching offering opportunities for students to think independently and develop skills that will enable them to flourish in a world driven by technology.