Ahoy, Opportunity with St Andrews Institute of Learning!

Image source: Photographer Ian Waldie

Meet the school empowering its students to fulfil their personal capacity, their way. Bec Marshall discovers a unique approach that prepares the whole person to live their best life beyond the classroom.

A high school with an entire unit dedicated to research and innovation may not seem so extraordinary in today’s era of schools that buzz with the hum of an uber professional, contemporary business.

St Andrew’s Institute of Learning (SAIL), however, is extraordinary.

For its impact, its longevity and for the multi-layered difference it’s been making to teachers, students, learning communities and the field of education since 2016.

Sporting an entirely appropriate acronym that conjures up opportunity, adventure and dreams of future horizons, SAIL is the research and innovation hub at St Andrew’s Anglican College, Peregian Springs.

Led by Tim Barrett and a small team of directors, SAIL aims to challenge, impact and inspire efforts in research, collaboration and innovation at a local, national and global level.

It’s all about contributing to discussions on education and offering ongoing professional learning to staff and the broader educational community.

SAIL has four project areas: research; professional development; personal capacity building; and partnerships.

“SAIL inputs into the professional development of our teachers, which ultimately has flow-on benefits for our students,” Mr Barrett said.

“We take research and translate it into our specific context, ensuring what we are putting our time and energy into what is meaningful for learning. We also conduct our own research and regularly present at various conferences including The Australian Council for Education Leaders Conference and the Anglican Schools Australia Conference.

“This input into education extends beyond the Sunshine Coast to numerous partner schools around the globe that collaborate on projects and conduct staff and student exchanges.

“We love the fact that we are part of shaping the bigger picture of education and preparing students for their futures.”

That’s a nice segue into one of SAIL’s flagship initiatives, the Personal Capacity Transcript.

Delivered to all Secondary students and their families for the first-time last year alongside their academic transcript, it sets St Andrew’s apart in the quest to capture the individual involvement, passion and achievements of each student.

“In simple terms, personal capacity is the knowledge, skills and capabilities that promote effective management of self, relationships and learning,” Mr Barrett said.

“We know universities and employers are looking at more than just grades or an ATAR these days. They are looking at the whole person. The Personal Capacity Transcript tracks all the previously unreportable traits of students outside of the traditional exam results or generic statements on report cards.

“Things like courage, service learning, entrepreneurship and financial literacy, critical and creative thinking, intercultural and ethical understanding and awareness and management of self and others.

“Students provide evidence meeting these credits which are tracked and visualised through a dashboard.

“So, when they apply for jobs or go out into the real world, employers and universities have a better and more holistic understanding of the entire person.

“We believe we are the only school that is currently reporting on personal capacity in this way.”

SAIL is hosting a new series of business breakfasts in 2024 to give students the chance to network with business owners and gain insights from the life experiences, challenges and triumphs of accomplished leaders across diverse industries.

And who better to launch the series than Mindset Coach Mark Visser?

The big wave surfer, ocean adventurer and epic breath-holder with close ties to St Andrew’s was the guest speaker at SAIL’s very first Engage and Elevate event in March.

“These events are great because they tie into SAIL, our focus on personal capacity and really just highlight our ethos as a college of helping to prepare students to be the best they can for life beyond school,” event organiser and St Andrew’s Head of Community Development Jaclyn Oudejans said.

“And that means helping them understand the business world, learning how to network and seeing and experiencing things they don’t see inside the classroom.

“The breakfasts provide the opportunity to learn from people within our community, to talk to adults and people from industries they may want to join – or not.”

Better still, the events are open to everyone in the community.

The breakfast series and SAIL link in with the new Future Ambitions program, another way St Andrew’s is going to impressive lengths to support the whole student.

Launched at the end of last year, it provides students who don’t fit inside the curriculum box with a pathway to stay in school and still follow their dreams and passions.

Secondary students go through an application process to be accepted, and they have to demonstrate six months of commitment to a project in key categories such as academic, sport, music or entrepreneurship.

“We have had about 50 students sign up to Future Ambitions so far,” Jaclyn said. “It’s about supporting those students who have passions outside of the curriculum with another pathway to achieve their personal capacity.

“Our biggest category is sport, so we provide our students who are elite athletes with alternative timetabling to fit in around their training as well as access to mentors, additional programs like a performance breathing workshop and guest speakers.

“Another popular category is entrepreneurship. A lot of our students run their own successful businesses, there are some students making some serious money.

“They identify areas where they need help to grow, it might be marketing or they might need a mentor, and then we put them in contact with a business mentor or a course to assist.”

The work of St Andrew’s SAIL staff has been recognised in research papers, conference presentations and in the 2019, 2020 and 2021 Australian Educator Awards, winning Best Co-Curricular Program.

Find out more at www.sail.qld.edu.au


Thursday 16 May 7am to 9am: Peter Low, business coach and leader

Thursday 15 August 7am to 9am: Guest speaker to be announced

Thursday 17 October 7am to 9am: Guest speaker to be announced

Venue: Sunshine Beach Surf Club

Cost: $45 or $35 for students

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