The curriculum is structured around a set of academic subjects chosen to provide an excellent preparation for university study, with a particular focus on preparing students for courses at the University of Adelaide, recognising the unique partnership between the school and the university. That is not to say that, in so doing, we do not also prepare our students for courses at other universities, here in South Australia, interstate and overseas.
We have interpreted the SACE curriculum for students with high academic aspirations, by including challenges designed to prepare students for the academic rigor expected as they enter university. The school is ideally located to make use of the rich array of learning resources in its precinct. These include the South Australian Museum and Art Gallery, Parliament House and the facilities of the University of Adelaide. Our students have full undergraduate borrowing rights to the Barr Smith Library and access to the University’s very extensive computer network, including the MyUni Learning Management System.
USC is determined to make the learning opportunities the principal focus of its activities and so they take precedence over any other activity. There are, therefore, few interruptions to the academic program. This allows students to develop those routines which are so important to a quality learning experience.
Complementing the academic program is the mentoring program, which provides guidance and support to help students learn to manage their own learning, making the whole school experience one of education for transition toward success at university and beyond. Recent research into student expectations and experiences when entering university has highlighted the importance of students developing an independent learning style and taking charge of their own learning. View the Student and Staff Expectations and Experience Project.
While the SACE program provides a foundation for the curriculum, the expectations are raised in a number of ways. These are neatly packaged in our unique Partner’s Pathway arrangement with the University of Adelaide. Through this pathway, the University has recognised our academically demanding program by offering places to students who engage and achieve effectively in our program.
At USC, most students undertake the compulsory Stage 2 (Year 12) subject, Research Project in the second semester of Year 11, which thus enables students to take 5 academic subjects in Year 12, rather than the 4 subjects generally undertaken at other schools. We have a strong view that undertaking 5 subjects at Stage 2 gives better preparation for success in at least two ways. Firstly, students need to learn to work at the level of intensity required for success at university. The expectation that most students will undertake 5 subjects at Stage 2 at USC is to provide an experience that will better prepare them for the challenge of university study. Our experience has shown that USC students with high academic aspirations can readily cope with the workload of 5 subjects.
Secondly, it is our strong view that for success at university, students need a broad base of experience. We therefore encourage students to take at least one language rich subject and at least one quantitative experimental subject in their choice of 5 subjects in Year 12. In our discussions with senior academic staff of the Engineering, Computer Mathematical Sciences Faculty of the university, we have understood the need for our students to be able to communicate effectively, both verbally and in writing. Likewise, academics from the Humanities and Social Sciences Faculty have underlined the importance of students who have some experience with the deductive thinking required in mathematics and the sciences. Our curriculum and our counselling reflect this view. Restricting students to four Stage 2 subjects seriously limits opportunities for a balanced Year 12 experience.
At USC, we see the opportunities to study a foreign language as being important. Given the great variety of languages studied by our students in middle school, catering for such a vast range is clearly impossible. However, through cooperation with the South Australian School of Languages, it is possible for our students to study their chosen language off line, and have this fit their timetables. Likewise, we see it as important that those students who wish to continue their study of Music can do so and so we are pleased to provide a range of options catering for them.