Skip navigation

SmartTrack Academy (Years 7 and 8): A Journey of Being and Becoming

Over recent years, the world has taken a dramatic leap forward, and education as we know it is continuing to change. Trends in education research are beginning to suggest the traditional model of school is increasingly becoming outdated, and no longer fully meets the current and future needs of young people. Adolescents are looking towards future career paths that are vastly different to previous generations and we must prepare them for roles that have not even been imagined yet. To thrive in the future, students must develop curiosity, imagination, resilience, and self-determination, and care about the well-being of their friends and families, their communities, and the planet (The Future of Education and Skills 2030, OECD).

With the vision to meet these identified needs, in 2022, St Philip’s Christian College Middle School launched SmartTrack Academy in Year 7. Drawing on the vision and success of the HSC SmartTrack program, yet aiming to meet the diverse needs of early adolescent learners, SmartTrack Academy took on a class of 23 students to provide an innovative and future-focused learning pathway.

The program centres on integrated learning projects, combining multiple subjects and content into an interdisciplinary style of learning. On top of this, students are encouraged to identify and lean into their emerging passions and interest areas to help develop their broadening range of skills. With a focus on skill proficiency towards age-appropriate mastery, students were given as many opportunities as possible to learn in a hands-on, practical way that promoted real world application of the concepts and ideas they were learning. One student commented, “The structure and style of SmartTrack Academy meant that everyone is on a similar track, but everyone is on their own journey. I got ideas from other people that inspired me to improve my projects.”

Students began the year with Project Legacy, exploring the contributions of ancient cultures to the world we live in. Students undertook a site study of Newcastle Beach and Fort Scratchley to appreciate the way the history of these sites has shaped and left a legacy upon Newcastle.

In Terms Two and Three, students undertook two projects exploring sustainability, food, and the future of cities. Exploring these topics from multiple points of view allowed students to consider the scientific, geographical, historical, and human impact of our changing world. In response, students collaborated with scientists from CSIRO to design a city that would meet the needs of 2060.

In Term Four, the class adopted an entrepreneurial mindset to start a small business, hosting a marketplace to practice their marketing, sales, and financial maths.

The final project completed throughout the year was Project Dream, where students had the freedom to pursue any topic of interest to develop a big goal. “Project Dream has helped me have time to learn something that I wanted to learn.” A highlight for the Learning Advisors supporting the students was seeing the many projects that developed across the year, from costume making, writing short stories, computer coding, to sports coaching, and many more. 

SmartTrack Academy aims to mentor students to be responsible for their learning, to have choice and agency, and develop the skills necessary to pursue many different pathways. “SmartTrack Academy is great because it is authentic to yourself. I don’t have to try and be like someone else or repeat the same information that other students also find out. I can expand my knowledge more!”

After a successful 2022, SmartTrack Academy has continued into 2023 with a new Year 7 class and a Year 8 class.

We are excited to share that SPCC Newcastle is currently developing a Stage 5 SmartTrack pathway, that will complete the SmartTrack program from Years 7 – 12.

Lachlan Jones
Lead Educator (SmartTrack Academy)