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Inside Teaching : April 2011
inside teaching | April 2011 RESEARCH 46 currently underway examines these issues, so we’d like here to discuss some of our findings for teachers and schools involved in industry-school partnerships now and into the future. Researching Gateway Schools Projects In late 2010, a team of six researchers from Queensland University of Technology, Griffith University and the DET obtained Australian Research Council (ARC) funding to study the Gateway Schools Projects. This three-year research program aims to map the organisational structures of partnerships, and to identify teaching and learning relationships within them that best contribute to productive educational and social outcomes for young people. The research examines, among other things, how teachers and industry trainers collaborate to develop curriculum and assessment, and how they share content and pedagogical knowledge oriented toward workplace learning. Curricular reform that is relevant to the world of work and assists seamless transition to work, training or university for young people requires educators to understand the ways in which workplaces are changing and, at the same time, requires industry to understand the ways that schools operate and change over time. The purpose of the ARC project is to document processes of knowledge sharing within and across multiple school sectors and multiple industry sectors. Because of the broad scope of the investigation, we expect our findings will enhance mutual understanding between schooling and industry and thereby enable both to build capacity together. Study participants include the principals, staff and students of four schools from each of five Gateway Schools Projects in aerospace, building and construction, minerals and energy, wine tourism, and manufacturing and engineering. The research takes the form of interviews with educational and industry management personnel, and focus groups with students. The purpose of the focus groups is to explore issues such as students’ choice of learning pathways, their experience of curriculum and pedagogy, opportunities for industry training and the influence of these on prospective careers. The study also seeks to test the hypothesis that a commitment to knowledge sharing positively affects the quality of pedagogy in classrooms, industry workshops and other learning environments. Hence, the research also includes a selection of classroom lessons observed and video-recorded to show influences of this knowledge networking on the enacted curricula, pedagogies and assessment practices of the projects. Some observations to date While the research is in its early stages, two members of the research team have been examining the Gateway Schools Projects for a number of years. As we’ve already noted, it’s apparent that partnerships signify a transformation in the way schooling is conceptualised. A major point to add here is industry’s commitment to the projects in terms of both financial investment and in- kind support. This contribution has provided the opportunity for a range of applied student learning activities, professional development for staff, and the development of industry- specific curricula that would not otherwise have occurred. Take, for example, the Gateway Schools Project in wine tourism, a collaboration between the Queensland government, the Queensland College of Wine Tourism (QCWT), local winemakers and schools located in south-east Queensland. Opened in 2007, the QCWT is an $8.5 million education and training facility is a joint venture between the DET and the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) on Queensland’s Granite Belt. Other partners include the Queensland wine industry, the Queensland Department of Employment, Economic Development and