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Squared take control square logo
Hundred 2018
Whose education is it anyway?

Templestowe College

Marker Victoria, Australia
A whole school community founded on the philosophy of empowering students to manage their own learning and turn their ideas into reality. At Templestowe College "Yes" is the default.

What is Templestowe College?

Peter Hutton
“Templestowe College is a learning community of over 1200 people who are focused on meeting our vision of 'to co‐create high quality learning experiences within an inclusive and supportive community'. Templestowe College, or TC as we call ourselves, is a Victorian State school in Australia that is regarded internationally as one of the most innovative progressive schools focused on student empowerment and student centred learning. We are a school that has moved beyond student voice to enable our students to show true empowerment and action relating to the way in which the school runs and that they have had the opportunity to have Taken Control over their learning.”

Peter Ellis, Principal

Many final year students around the world leave school believing that their education was “done to them” and as a consequence was of little relevance and value.

Within this context Templestowe College's (TC) student population had fallen from 1000 to fewer than 300 students. With only 23 Year 7 students, this Australian public school was under a real threat of closure only a decade ago. They needed to find a way to engage students and staff in their education system once more.

Now named one of the top 100 most innovative schools in Australia, Templestowe College has revolutionised itself by putting students (and staff) in charge of their own learning.

The school’s '“Yes” is the default' policy means that any request or suggestion from a student, parent or staff member has to be answered “Yes” unless it will take too much time, too much money, or has a negative impact on someone else. This has given enormous scope for all members of the community to Take Control of their on learning, and indeed anything that affects them at school.

TC has now grown to over 1000 students each with their own ILP, individualised Learning Plan. When students start at TC students choose one third of their own learning program, but once they reach functional levels of literacy and numeracy then they can manage 100% of their own learning curriculum.

As the school has no year levels, students interact and collaborate within mixed age classes. A student's journey through school may take between 4 to 8 years.

They have the freedom to explore their own passions and interests in depth and this personal agency leads to exceptional levels of engagement and achievement. Based on student consultation, TC offers over 150 electives each year for students to choose from.

TC has used the '“Yes is the default' test as a means of approving or rejecting student, staff and parent requests or suggestions for the past eight years. By having set codified language that is well publicised it gives all members of the community a way to talk about and evaluate proposals and has helped to create a sense of fairness, confidence and impartiality in how the school makes decisions.

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Intended Outcomes
11 - 18
Age Group
Resources Needed
One of the best parts of adopting this initiative is that it requires no financial resources… anyone can do it, regardless of context. What you do need, is a willingness to genuinely consider the wants of all members of the school community and an open mindset. Moving towards this model takes around 12 months, but, as a transition model, it continues to evolve after initial implementation.
HundrED Criteria
A whole school community led by student empowered learning. Mixed classes, flexible hours and ambitious project based learning: TC’s Take Control philosophy looks different from other schools.
TC currently has around 1000 students. Around 500 students have already completed their education at TC. Students are better equipped to Take Control of their own learning at university and early data suggests far higher tertiary retention and completion rates than the Australian average.
It can scale up quickly and doesn’t cost anymore than usual schooling. The model has already been adopted by four other schools in Australia.

See this innovation in action.


Inspired to implement this? Here's how...

Explore the possibilities
Discuss with the Leadership Team and School Governance Body to get agreement.
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Spread the idea and gain consensus
Share the concept with the staff.
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Build the learning community
Bring in members of the wider school community.
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Empower the students
TC has exceptional levels of engagement and achievement because of the students’ freedom.
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