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Empowering students. That’s the vision that drives Director of Learning and Teaching, Jan Leather. 

Mrs Jan Leather

In her role managing the Learning and Teaching program in the Senior School, Ms Leather draws together the various strands of the pastoral care and personal development programs, the extensive co-curricular opportunities plus the classroom setting, to design a program that is unique to Ivanhoe Girls’. 

“We follow the Australian Curriculum which gives us the basic framework for what we do but it’s broad enough to give us opportunities for us to go into areas where we think we can extend our students or support them”. 

For Ms Leather, one of the features of the Learning and Teaching program at Ivanhoe Girls’ is its flexibility to be able to adapt to individual learning needs. “We can follow student’s passions,” she explains. 

Its strength lies in the quality of the teachers, she believes, and in particular, in that all of the programs at the School are designed for girls. The students are surrounded by female role models, she explains. “They get the message that they can do anything”. 

As Director of Learning and Teaching, Ms Leather’s goal is for each student to reach their potential. “We want our students to be challenged and to take up the challenge, and we don’t want them to settle for anything that doesn’t push them.” 

“I want them all to be strong, independent and contributing,” she says. “I want them to be creators.”

But for each individual student to find their passion and confidence, it’s vital to be able to identify those students with different learning needs, and then ensure that a framework of support allows them to reach their potential and more. At Ivanhoe Girls’, this is a continual process that starts at enrolment. Academic testing, NAPLAN reports and even scholarship testing can identify students with differing learning needs. But primarily it is the expertise of the classroom teacher who can best identify students with special learning needs, while the Heads of Faculty design the framework of support around the curriculum.  

To explain how this framework of support operates, Maths offers a good example. From Year 7 onwards there are small support classes for students who find Maths challenging, and for students who choose to push themselves, there are competitions such as the Australian Maths Competition for students in Years 7 and 8.  An entry test at the end of Year 8 identifies students for entry into the Accelerated Program for Years 9 and 10. By VCE there are a range of Maths subjects catering to various capabilities, from Further Maths to Specialist Maths and even an extension course to allow students to study University Mathematics. 

In other subjects such as English, students might study a range of texts, depending on their aptitude and interest. In addition, “there will be work set that will be open-ended, providing an opportunity for complex and creative thinking,” explains Mrs Leather. For some tasks, students will be given a different set of questions to answer, depending on where they are at in their learning. There are also opportunities for students to be “streamed” into different classes depending on their previous experiences in French, Chinese and Instrumental Music.

Across the curriculum at Ivanhoe Girls’ there is a wide range of subject choices catering to a broad range of abilities and the different ways students learn, plus an extensive co-curricular program, to empower students to self-direct their learning goals. Activities such as IGNITE, Future Problem Solving, Politics Club, Debating and Tournament of Minds all offer opportunities for students to test their mettle against other students with similar abilities and interests. Competitions and industry partnerships, such as the Mentoring Girls in STEMM Program with the Bionics Institute, offer excellent opportunities for extension. Meanwhile, the flexibility of the VCE provides for students to complete their senior studies over three years rather than two if required.  

What are the markers of student success at Ivanhoe Girls’? For Jan Leather, the answer is simple, and it’s not just about ATAR results. “I want them to be confident, to be contributors, and to have the confidence to find their place in the world,” she says. Thanks to the unique program at Ivanhoe Girls’, students are able to self-direct their learning journey, supported by a solid framework of teaching support and plenty of opportunities to thrive.