Statistical information about the socioeconomic status community in which the school I teach at is limited to the information made available in each Education Review Office review report. This only really informs me of the breakdown of the school students in terms of gender and ethnicity. This knowledge is supplemented by my own local knowledge and general understanding of the socioeconomic characteristics of the suburbs that fall within our school zone. This limited information tells me that my school is reasonably diverse in terms of ethnic makeup and that it draws students from suburbs that range from reasonably affluent to much less so.
In terms of the culture of the culture that the school currently seeks to create, much more information is available. This culture is most evident in our four school statements: Embracing Challenge, Building Independence, Celebrating Diversity and Developing a Passion for Learning. They are also evident in the Six C’s that shape our learning as a school that is part of the New Pedagogies for Deeper Learning project. These are Character, Citizenship, Collaboration, Communication, Creativity and Critical Thinking. These values apply both to teachers and students as both groups are seen as learners. As a school, we strive to create an environment which values learners as individuals, promotes students agency and independence, and encourages deep learning. We also seek to create a safe environment, both physically and emotionally, for students and staff.
In terms of issues arising from the socioeconomic context in which our school exists, the most obvious one would be the introduction of a BYOD policy given the economic disparity that exists among the parent/caregiver community. Our school encourages, but does not mandate, that students bring a suitable device to support their learning and teachers are expected to implement programmes that leverage our digital infrastructure. The challenge of having parents/caregivers that are not willing or able to ensure that their child has a device is not unique to our school. Unlike some other schools, we have decided as a school to make significant numbers of school purchased Chromebooks (120+) available across the school rather than adopting alternative solutions such as school or cluster led scheme to support students purchasing a device for their child. This means that all students have access to devices and ensures that educational opportunities are as equitable as they can be in terms of this area. It also allows for the use of ICT to be embedded into the practice of all teachers as they can be confident that students have the tools required to engage in learning with a significant digital component.
This has made it possible for the school to place an increasing emphasis on the use of ICT in classroom programmes. “Leveraging digital” has become an important component of our pedagogical approach, an understanding made clear by the importance placed on this aspect of teaching both in terms of PD and our ongoing teacher review processes. This expectation, along with the PD develop the necessary skills and understandings needed for teachers to deliver a digitally rich programme has created issues in the form of a perceived increase in workload. Given that coding will soon be added to the required digital knowledge, some staff do feel overwhelmed by what they see as a significant quantity of learning that they are required to master. Given the potential for the use of digital technologies to streamline some elements of teaching I am not sure whether or not this perceived increase in workload, in fact, real or not. However, our school culture has helped address this issue in that is highlights the important role that digital technology plays in our approach to learning while ensuring that teachers actively engage in this learning and develop and adapt their practice as a result of this learning because of the shared understanding that as teachers we have a responsibility to continue to adapt and develop our practice.