The green and spacious grounds of Canterbury College overlooking the Logan River might look traditional, but this forward-thinking Queensland school boasts a state-of-the-art research centre and an award-winning STEM (science, technology, engineering, maths) curriculum, complemented by a college-wide wellbeing programme developed in collaboration with Harvard University.
The 1,400 students at Canterbury, an Anglican, co-educational independent school founded in 1987, progress from kindergarten to graduation in Year 12 in a stimulating environment that prepares them for university entry, vocational training and traineeships.
“Look at our strategic plan and you’ll see we are a college of innovation,” says Head of College Donna Anderson. Canterbury was the first school in Australia to invest in an EON I-bench for 3D stereoscopic augmented reality and the first in Queensland to use zSpace tablets. In 2017, the college opened its Research and Next Centre and also won a one-off Exemplary STEM Teaching Innovation award at an international Adolescent Success conference.
The college’s Bring Your Own Device scheme ensures that, from Year 4 onwards, all Canterbury students are included in digital learning. The STEM curriculum begins from kindergarten, progressing to coding and robotics in junior school and laser technology, 3D printing and virtual reality in senior school.
Student progress is carefully tracked so that careers and further education advice from Year 10 is tailored to each pupil’s abilities and prospects. Advanced students have the chance to study first-year university courses such as law, psychology and IT while still at college, gaining course credits and preferential university entry on graduation. The Vocational Educational and Training (VET) programme is regularly updated to meet industry requirements in areas such as construction, hospitality and business, while traineeships and apprenticeships allow students to gain work experience and complete college simultaneously.
The college also develops student’s entrepreneurial skills gained through partnerships with industry, universities and government programmes. These include the Bond University Emerging Entrepreneurs Program and the Generation Innovation programme through Shaping Queensland Entrepreneurs Project.
As a counterbalance to this academic activity, the college operates meditation classes and daily mindfulness sessions using Smiling Minds. “Mindfulness involves staff as well as students as their wellbeing is tied very closely together,” says Anderson. “We also have self-reflection days from Year 6, which are a chance for students to regroup from a spiritual perspective.” Canterbury is also a partner school for Stymie, a reporting system for students to advise of any concerns they have about safety and wellbeing.
Core curricular subjects at Canterbury are supplemented with a varied arts and sports programme, which sees students competing at state and national level. “This also feeds into the wellbeing of the students,” says Anderson. “Talent is respected in every area, be it rugby or dance, and that good vibe helps them succeed academically.”
Well-established student exchanges with sister schools in China, Italy, America and Indonesia give Canterbury’s students an enhanced world perspective and greater cultural sensitivity. Coupled with the dynamic STEM-centred academic programme at the college and the supportive well-being provision, graduates from Canterbury, as Anderson comments, “stand out as well finished, with a depth of expertise in more than one area.”