Teaching and Learning

Curriculum Overview

Our curriculum is balanced across academic, co-curricular and personal growth, and is focused on challenging each student to stretch further than he or she had thought possible, to achieve and to act with purpose and character.

Academic Curriculum

The College has maintained its strong reputation for high academic outcomes since its establishment, through the deliberate cultivation of a culture to support individual student achievement. Teachers are committed to the College’s ideals and work closely with students to support them in rising to the challenge to achieve their goals.  Students are also expected to support one another in achieving their personal best.

In addition to offering subjects important in preparing young people for future careers. and for making positive contributions to society, our teaching and learning practice combines the best of tradition with strategies based on contemporary knowledge of the way the brain functions and learns.  We use the Teaching for Understanding framework (from Project Zero, Harvard Graduate School of Education, USA) as the basis for developing a thinking culture to help students go deeper in their understanding, and relate learning experiences to real life situations.

In catering for individual student needs, we prepare students for university, trade-based further education or careers.  Since our first Year 12s graduated in 1994, an average of 99-100% of students have received tertiary offers, the remainder taking school-based traineeships that are usually converted into jobs or apprenticeships on graduation.

The academic curriculum is designed on a Prep - Year 12 basis, so that students can follow a clear and well-planned pathway from the first day of school to graduation.

A recent article written by retired Principal Dawn Lang entitled, "Thinking, not just learning," answers some fundamental questions regarding Teaching for Understanding and its implementation at A.B. Paterson College.

*This article was published in Teacher magazine, September 2006. Reproduced with kind permission from Teacher.

Additional Learning Support/Enhancement

Our Learning Enhancement team partners with teaching staff to provide additional learning support and acceleration programmes, where necessary, in accordance with their individual learning needs.

The team has a focus on early intervention in Junior School to help students with learning difficulties, and oversees acceleration programmes across the College.


Students who have been assessed by the College, as being capable of working at an above grade level, are offered a number of options, depending on individual needs and abilities.  It is possible to accelerate by a whole year level(s) to work full time with a group of older students, or only part-time in particular subjects; to join special multi-age classes working above grade in particular subject areas; or to work on advanced concepts within their own year level.  Decisions about advancement are only taken in co-operation with parents and based on data judged by the College to satisfy requirements. 

Honours' Programme

Students may gain admission to the College’s Honours' Programme from Year 10, providing they meet the criteria for selection.

In this programme, students participate in additional activities not able to be explored in the standard syllabus. These students are usually already operating at above grade levels.