The Universal Learning Programme (ULP)

The St Aloysius College junior curriculum embodies the defining features of 21st century learning with the critical future-proofed skills of creativity, critical thinking, resilience, collaboration, digital literacy and problem-solving all prioritised to develop learner agency to empower our students. The College is in the illustrious position of being one of only a small handful of Australian schools to deliver the Universal Learning Programme (ULP) through our partnership with the International School of Geneva. Through the programme, staff undertake professional learning on the critical components of the ULP drawing upon the latest research, are involved in action inquiry, and reflecting through professional dialogue on the pedagogical approach that underpins all learning. As a member school of ULP Australia, we are fortunate to have members of staff who are trained to deliver the ULP to teaching staff within St Aloysius College as well as in the professional learning communities to which we belong.

The grounding principles of the ULP
  1. Deep understanding which develops pedagogical strategies, threshold concepts and universal understandings to enhance student cognition.
  2. Competence, based upon the development of skills, knowledge and attitudes through continual cycles of feedback. Competency has a focus on developing character, passion, mastery and collaboration.
  3. Social impact, promoting students to make positive social contributions in their environments. The students in the forthcoming terms, will be undertaking projects as part of their learning journeys to demonstrate their abilities and commitment to their learning.

The pedagogical underpinnings of the ULP are footed in students developing mastery, and ultimately ownership, in all their learning. Developing the ability to have strong subject and content knowledge whilst transferring the learning through the different disciplines they undertake each day.

The ULP at St Aloysius College

Fundamentally, as a school we believe that “future ready students need to exercise agency” (OECD, 2018, p.4). The understanding of student agency is that it is a “student’s capacity to act in ways that exhibit their own choices in their learning, informed by their beliefs and careful consideration, self-regulation, and self-reflection about their ability to control and take ownership of their own learning” (Moses, Rylak, Reader, Hertz & Ogden, 2020, p.214) with the most appropriate pedagogies being employed to foster students’ self-regulatory capacities. Our teachers make evidence and research-informed decisions in every lesson to promote our students’ learning. These choices coupled with the development of 21st century skills along with opportunities for students to voice their opinions in a learning partnership inspire students to develop ownership of their learning. All students are supported with designated coaching & mentoring sessions. The purpose is to establish a culture of fostering independent and self-regulated learners - the fundamental components of developing student agency for learning. Crucially, the intent of coaching to develop self-directed learning also has two key outcomes for students, increased self-awareness and responsibility.

In Year 7
Students undertake projects as part of their learning journeys to demonstrate their abilities and commitment to their learning with an explicit focus on Character. Through this, students develop their understanding of who they are as individuals and, importantly, what has shaped them into the people that they are today. The projects, Who am I?, What are my roots? and My Learning are complemented with fortnightly coaching conversations to establish a culture of independent and self-regulated learners as they begin their secondary education. Through coaching, positive psychology, setting values-based challenges and reflecting on outcomes, we bring out our true potential by developing character, associated with grit, intellectual honesty, accountability and humane moral values.

In Year 8
Students take part in future problem-solving challenges. The program develops the critical 21st century skills of critical and creative thinking, collaboration and communication whilst broadening the student’s ability to think on a global perspective. Collaboration entails effective team work, balancing rights with privileges, responsible consumption, followship, leadership, listening skills, negotiation and interpersonal sensitivity.

In Year 9
Students participate in the Mercy RITES program, which embodies relationships, interests, togetherness, excellence and service. The purpose is to develop a passion for learning and skills for both studies as well as real-world application. By making learning personally relevant and by paying homage to the beauty of content, we develop passion for learning. This brings out traits such as self-respect, curiosity, motivation, energy and vision. The Mercy RITES program has a very strong focus on living out the Mercy Education Values and continues to build on the legacy of Catherine McAuley. The Mercy RITES program supports the development of leadership, service, resilience and confidence. Influencing students to make a difference in their community, by working on individualised projects that are based on their interests and strengths. The Mercy RITES program has student led projects at its foundation, with staff acting as mentors. The skills developed from this program will be skills that the students can take beyond their secondary school and use in their future education, employment and life after Secondary School. The ‘Interests’ projects are aligned with the Passion dimension of the ULP. Opportunities to build on the collaborative skills developed in Year 8 but to deliver a student’s ‘passion’ as a service to the community. This program allows students to identify their current passion early and collaborate on an Interest Project, which is often not directly linked to the academic program, with like-minded peers.