PreCAL Program at Concord School

Engaged students in learning
Thom Irwin
PreCAL Classroom Teacher, Concord School

Concord School launched its inaugural Pre Certificate of Applied Learning (PreCAL) Program in 2018. Currently teaching in the 9  /10 section, I have worked with two other teachers in establishing PreCAL at Concord School. 

The program provides students with more support in their daily learning and takes them outside of the classroom for one full day each week. 

The students are given the opportunity to engage with their community and access people and places through learning ‘on the job’ each week. 2018 focussed on Community and Workplace Safety, as well as accessing Leisure based interactions in the wider community.

Comprehension book One of the books we read for comprehension before leaving the school and a checklist used for students to independently get ready for the day out of the school

All of this fosters confidence, builds independence and provides context for learning in the classroom. 

All literacy and numeracy learning I plan is connected directly to our days out of the classroom and provides opportunity to transfer skills learnt across different environments.

All learning is differentiated based on student need and we are fortunate enough to have a Speech Pathologist with us full-time to support the work that we do.

An example of this in my Literacy class was when we had a pre-excursion task to go shopping for ingredients to make toasties. The following day, our procedural writing task was focused on each student, as they have photos taken of themselves each step of the way. This is used in the procedure for how students pack their bags, catch public transport, put their ingredients into a recipe based on preference and finally, recounting their procedure after preparing and eating their toasties. 

The interconnectedness of these daily tasks has been invaluable for the students. When the learning becomes more real and they are able to physically engage with what they learn about, it allows them to take ownership of what they learn at school.

Loading toastie ingredients

How to make a toastie

The students in PreCAL were also involved in STEAM classes in 2018. 

In term 4, our class designed, made, packaged, marketed and sold soaps, bath bombs and bath salts at a local celebration. Students used skills they had been learning in maths to measure and weigh ingredients, as well as information report writing skills to promote our creations. 

Students spent time in our classes market stall on the night, selling and exchanging money and change. They chose the Royal Children’s Hospital to donate their earnings to. This also helped to encapsulate the Charity component of their Duke of Edinburgh Award for the year. 

This was another fantastic opportunity for the PreCAL students to apply what they learnt to something out in the community.

Making soaps

One year into the PreCAL Program, I have been blown away by the growth I’ve seen in my students. The real world experiences and developing of some of the skills required in the future has been fantastic to see. 

Parents have seen much of this growth at home too, as their child has been able to show them their learning, leaving the house with them and being able to interact, communicate and access areas of the community they previously may have been anxious about or lacked confidence in. 

I look forward to the next step in the program going forward in 2019.