Our Learning Community
Avila offers a comprehensive and innovative curriculum designed to contribute to the intellectual, spiritual and physical development of students. At Avila College we value different skills, talents and abilities and challenge ourselves to think critically, be intellectually curious and adopt a growth mindset.
With a focus on academic diversity, innovation and engagement, Avila students are encouraged to be agile thinkers, take ownership of their learning journey and achieve their own personal best.
Rigorous and relevant learning opportunities allow students to explore and question significant ideas and develop new knowledge.
We understand that each student’s academic journey is a personal one, which is why Avila College offers a variety of learning pathways to suit a diverse range of needs, aspirations and abilities.
The Curriculum Guide is designed to help students and families understand more about the subjects available at each year level at Avila. Whether they are core or elective subjects, there is an outline of the areas of study and examples of the learning activities our students can expect to be engaged in during their studies.
Introducing Year 7
Year 7 students undertake studies with their Homeroom group in Religious Education, English, Humanities, Mathematics, Science, Health and Physical Education and in two of the foreign languages (French, Indonesian and Italian) offered at the College. They are also introduced to specialist areas including The Arts, Digital Technology and Design Technology. The 2040 Project is undertaken in Year 7, a cross-curriculum program where students research social, economic and environmental factors that have the potential to make the world a better place in the future.
Year 8 students select one language to study in both Years 8 and 9. Students also have the opportunity to select electives in The Arts and Technology areas.
Students also participate in the City Experience program, which provide opportunities to engage deeply with interdisciplinary learning. This program seeks to embed opportunities for student voice and choice, with the goal of animating our students to become more resourceful and more self-directed through rich inquiry. The intended outcome of this program is that students build their skills in critical and creative thinking, communication and collaboration.
In Year 9 students start to tailor their learning to suit their individual talents and interests. In addition to their chosen language (French, Italian or Indonesian), students continue to study Victorian Curriculum English, Mathematics, Science and History and can also select from a broad range of Arts, Technology and Humanities electives.
To provide greater opportunity to develop particular areas of interest, students elect their preferred Science stream: Consumer, Enviro or Astro. Each stream offers the core units with additional science specialty units. Consumer stream students explore the production and advertisement of different commercial products, some of which students will make and test themselves. Within the Enviro stream, students undertake an additional ‘Growing Things’ investigation in the Agriculture and Horticulture Centre which involves caring for animals and learning horticultural practices. An additional Astronomy and Technology unit is offered in the Astro stream (including a space mission simulation at the Victorian Space Science Education Centre) and students spend time in class constructing and coding robotic devices.
In Year 10 the depth of learning increases and the potential to specialise begins. The Year 10 course includes compulsory subjects (Religious Education, English, Maths, Science, Health & Physical Education for the full year and History for one semester) plus 3 semester length electives. In Year 10 study of a Language is optional but highly recommended.
Year 10 students also have the opportunity to accelerate into a VCE unit and/or gain a nationally recognised certificate by completing a Vocational Education and Training (VET) program.
All Year 10 students are in homeroom groups for the Living and Values Program and Health & Physical Education. During Year 10, all students participate in the Service and Justice program, where they have the the opportunity to know, understand and work with different groups in our community, share in the experience of ministering service to others and challenges them to make an ongoing commitment to voluntary work.
VCE is typically undertaken over two years but may be taken over a longer period with some students starting some VCE studies in Year 10. Year 11 includes the compulsory studies: English or Literature and Religious Education.
With over 30 VCE units on offer, Avila College students have the opportunity to tailor a VCE program suited to their interests, talents and future pathways. Students choose a total of 12 VCE units of study in Year 11 and 10 VCE units of study in Year 12. Each VCE unit lasts one semester. Units 1 and 2 of a study will usually be completed during Year 11. It is highly recommended that a sequence of Units 1 and 2 be undertaken as preparation for the study of a 3 and 4 sequence.
Highly conscientious and able Year 11s may undertake a Unit 3 and 4 sequence while in Year 11. Most Units 3 and 4 will be completed during Year 12. At Year 12, English and or Literature and the school-based Religious Education program are compulsory.
The Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL) is an alternate, but equal in status, certificate administered by the VCAA which may be undertaken by all students who are enrolled in any vocational course, either at Avila or elsewhere in Years 11 and/or 12.
VCAL is a ‘Hands On” vocational pathway. VCAL does not generate study scores or an ATAR ranking.
The VCAL certificates are taught differently to VCE using the following guidelines:
- relating theory and practice
- linking educational contexts and learning with ‘real life’ and the community
- building on student’s knowledge and interests
- negotiating content and learning
- providing for different learning styles.
A key educational concept underpinning learning is the ability to act as an independent or self-directed learner. This means that although there are deadlines and set tasks to complete, students learn to manage their time and commitments in order to achieve success.
Teachers act as facilitators and respond to student’s requests for assistance, rather than formally lecturing and setting common tasks for the lesson. Not all VCAL students are self-directed learners, especially those enrolled at Foundation and Intermediate level, and appropriate support is given to enable students to achieve growth and success.
As part of the VCE or VCAL program, students can attain a nationally recognised vocational certificate through a Vocational Education & Training (VET) course. The two on-campus options are Certificate II Hospitality and Certificate III Sport and Recreation. Students can also choose to study a VET course not offered at Avila College from external providers.
Popular external providers with Avila College are Holmesglen Institute, Box Hill Institute, Chisholm Institute, Swinburne Institute and Elly Lukas Beauty School.
The major part of the work for all of these Certificates is done in Year 11 with some completion in Year 12. These VET units count towards either the VCE or VCAL certificates.
The aim of Religious Education is to provide all Avila College students with a broad understanding of Christian beliefs and practices.
Students learn about how Christians celebrate special events such as Easter and Christmas, how Christians pray and characters and stories from the Bible.
The Religious Education program is based on the Archdiocese of Melbourne’s guidelines and utilises the text To Know, Worship and Love. Students study a range of units from the Content Strands of: Scripture and Jesus; Church and Community; God, Religion and Life; Prayer, Liturgy and Sacraments; and Morality and Justice. Laptop computers are used to research, consolidate and present concepts covered in these units.
Students discover the history of Avila College, when it was founded and by whom. They study the Presentation Sisters and their founder Nano Nagle, then research Teresa of Avila and learn how her life shapes what we do here at Avila College.
Students learn about the significance of Holy days, symbols and colors of the Catholic Liturgical Year.
The Prayer unit covers the different ways in which Christians pray. The prayer types include petition, intercession, thanksgiving, mediation and blessing. Students learn to identify the style, purpose of these prayers, and produce original examples of each.
The Eucharist is central to the Catholic faith and is a celebration where Catholics gather together and express their faith in Jesus. This unit helps students to learn the correct responses and gestures to participate fully in College Masses.
Christian life is not simply about what we believe; it’s about how we express our faith in our actions. The Christian Discipleship unit covers many stories of Jesus from the Bible and we analyse how these stories are relevant in today’s world. Christian Discipleship is also explored through the community service program.
Stories in the Bible unit develops a foundation of the history and story of the Bible. Students become familiar with the types of literature in the Bible (myth, poetry, narrative, etc.) and the characters of important stories (Noah, Moses, Abraham).
During the Advent unit students learn about the preparation for the birth of Jesus and the celebration of Christmas. This unit provides an introduction to the religious history, symbols and meaning of Christmas.
All students study English as a core subject. The English curriculum is built around three interrelated strands of: Language, Literature and Literacy.
Together the strands focus on developing students’ knowledge, understanding and skills in listening, reading, viewing, speaking, writing and creating.
English is a key focus for Avila College because;
- It is integral to effective learning in all curriculum areas and across all phases of learning
- English skills are essential for students’ life-long learning and for their active participation in work, family and civic life in a highly complex and networked world
- It is at the heart of a student’s ability to learn and succeed in school and beyond
- It is essential we give every student from Year 7 to Year 12 the best chance to master English so they can meet the challenges of 21st century life.
The study of English helps;
- To create confident communicators, imaginative thinkers and informed citizens
- Students learn to analyse, understand, communicate and build relationships with others and with the world around them
- Young people develop the knowledge and skills needed for education, training and the workplace. It helps them become ethical, thoughtful, informed and active members of society.
At Avila College we are committed to offer a flexible curriculum that provides our students with the competence, experience and work habits necessary for successfully undertaking studies in the VCE and beyond their schooling. Students are encouraged to regard reading, viewing, writing, listening and speaking as active and integrated processes and classroom practice promotes activities, which cover these areas.
English teachers strive to provide;
- A supportive and positive learning environment
- The tools for students to increase their confidence and competence in language use thus enhancing both their life skills and their enjoyment of language in a variety of forms
- A broad range of closely connected learning experiences designed to encourage students to become more confident, thoughtful, discriminating and imaginative communicators in both formal and informal situations.
Students are encouraged to;
- Recognise and value the diversity of social and cultural backgrounds and opinions in our community
- Enhance their self-esteem through confident use of the English language in a variety of contexts for a variety of purposes and addressed to a variety of audiences
- Undertake a range of learning programs to demonstrate their achievement against the standards from all three strands of Personal and Social learning, Discipline-based learning and Interdisciplinary learning.
Health and Physical Education
The Health and Physical Education curriculum at Avila College focuses on the interaction between physical, social, intellectual and emotional health.
Research evidence supports a strong positive link between one’s health, fitness level and academic achievement. Exercise is known to be a powerful tool for enhancing mental performance, cognitive health and providing an individual with quality of life.
We believe it is important for our students to leave the College with a comprehensive understanding of the relevance of each health domain in relation to themselves, their family and their community. They are equipped with knowledge, lifelong skills and strategies to enable them to maintain a healthy and fulfilling life.
Practical sessions aim for maximum participation, and provide rich learning experiences where development of complex motor skills, decision-making, teamwork, game sense and strategic play, take place in a fun environment. Sessions incorporate modified games, drills and traditional sports with aerobic tasks being a component of each lesson.
At Avila College students;
- Develop an understanding of physical, social and emotional health factors
- Identify health related services in the Avila community and the wider community that may be used to help with health concerns
- Identify the health concerns of young people and strategies that are designed to improve their health
- Become aware of physical, social and emotional changes that occur during puberty and respond to the physical changes occurring with appropriate hygiene and personal management techniques
- Investigate the effects of smoking
- Develop basic aquatic skills and apply these in water safety scenarios
- Develop the knowledge and skills to promote participation in physical activity
- Develop decision-making, game sense and strategic play
- Experience a variety of recreational activities available in the wider community.
Sport contributes to the development of school spirit and the individual student.
The many physical and social benefits of team sports are recognised at Avila College. Students have opportunities to maintain or improve fitness levels, to develop leaderships skills, social skills and motor skills through their participation in the extensive inter-school and inter-house programs.
The inter-house competitions and carnivals (Athletics, Swimming and House Sport) foster both house and community spirit as well as provide a platform for interaction and cooperation across all year levels.
The College fields Junior, Intermediate and Senior teams in the SCSA interschool competitions. All students are given an equal opportunity to participate in and trial for competitive sporting teams and are encouraged to maximise their potential by committing themselves to the specific training and coaching sessions.
Junior, Intermediate and Senior teams are fielded in the following sports: Aerobics, Athletics, Basketball, Cross country, Indoor Cricket, Diving, Netball, Softball, Soccer, Swimming, Tennis, and Volleyball. Also, the sport of gymnastics has a large following at Avila and our teams are strong contenders in the ISG (Secondary Interschool Gymnastics) competition each year.
Studying Humanities at Avila College involves the study of the following four disciplines;
- Civics and Citizenship
Year 7 | In Year 7 students study Humanities in which Geography and History are covered. The Geography in this unit focuses on the valuable resource of water and Ancient History is studied.
Year 8 | At Year 8 students complete a semester of both History and Geography. Medieval History is investigated and the Geography course focuses on a study of natural processes including volcanoes, mountain landscapes and coasts.
Year 9 & 10 | In the Middle School a core semester length unit of History is completed at both Year 9 and 10. The focus is Australian History with Year 9 students learning about the period from 1750-1918 and Year 10 students focusing on the time from 1918 to present. Elective units in Economics and Geography are offered. Students can elect to study Money Makes the World Go Round, Paddock to Plate and Wet and Wild at Year 9. Year 10 units are also offered in both Economics and Geography. The Economics unit is World of Commerce and Geography offers Where to From Here.
Year 11 & 12 | A wide range of VCE units are offered to Year 11 and 12 students. These include Accounting, Australian Global Politics, Business Management, Classical Studies, Geography, History (20th Century History at Year 11 and Revolutions at Year 12) and Legal Studies.
Acceleration is offered to students in a number of the VCE subjects listed above. Students are encouraged to participate in competitions across all disciplines and excursions are an integral component of the learning process.
The study of Humanities helps students to;
- Develop key ideas and concepts that enable them to understand the broad subject ranges of humanities subjects in the Curriculum
- Improve inquiry processes and research skills
- Learn how to plan an investigation and identify key questions
- Analyse a range of data from sources including artefacts, photographs, maps, stories, special events, interviews, site visits and electronic media
- Form conclusions supported by evidence
- Present information in a variety of ways and formats to support a conclusion.
The study of foreign languages in considered essential for students at Avila College.
Students benefit not only from the obvious knowledge and understanding of another language, culture and history, but from learning and developing the higher order thinking skills that foreign languages study contains. In addition, the study of a second language enables connections and improvements in the student’s understanding and mastery of their first language (in most cases English). As global citizens, the mastery of a second language is an integral part of a well-rounded student program. In a world where only 14% of the population speaks English, the importance of a second language is undeniable.
Avila College offers three languages;
French is a modern, romance language that is widely spoken around the world. It is still the official language in over 30 countries, especially in Europe, Africa and the Pacific, as well as a language of diplomacy. It is one of the main languages used by international organisations (e.g., the United Nations). The study of French can also enhance cultural understanding within Australian society because of a growing number of French-speaking immigrants to Australia from France, Mauritius, Senegal and Sudan.
Culturally rich Italy has become such an integral part of modern culture both here and overseas, that the study of Italian unlocks a world of opportunity for Avila students to explore. For both students with Italian cultural heritage and those new to the language, Italian offers skills and knowledge as well as an insight into the myriad of spheres for which Italy is celebrated, such as fashion, art, history and food.
As the language of one of our nearest and most strategically important neighbours, Indonesian offers students an insight into one of the most diverse and fascinating countries in our region. Spoken in Indonesia, and used in Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei, Bahasa Indonesia is the perfect choice for Australian students. Australia’s relationship with Indonesia is no longer based solely on tourism, but on trade, politics and a mutually beneficial partnership. The study of Indonesian offers linguistic skill and essential cultural awareness of the rich history, varied ethnic groups and wonderful arts of our closest neighbour.
In learning language students;
- Develop communication skills and knowledge
- Understand social, historical, familial relationships and other aspects of the specific language
- Appreciate that cultural perspectives are an important component in all language studies
- Develop higher order thinking skills in the areas of listening, speaking, reading and writing.
The Mathematics Program at Avila College provides students with carefully paced, in-depth study of critical skills and concepts.
Mathematics helps to;
- Develop students numeracy capabilities
- Provide the fundamentals on which mathematical specialties and professional applications of mathematics are built
- Develop an appreciation of the elegance and power of mathematical reasoning.
The major content and processes of Mathematics are grouped into the following strands;
- Number and Algebra
- Measurement and Geometry
- Statistics and Probability
Assistance in Maths
Extra assistance is available to students who find Mathematics challenging. Students can attend lunchtime sessions where teachers are available to provide guidance.
During Year 9 highly able students may be invited into an Extension Program that operates at a faster pace. This course, which continues in Year 10, gives students the opportunity to attempt more challenging questions and begin to develop critical thinking skills.
Avila students have the opportunity to undertake the Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning in Years 11 and 12. Studying this subject allows students to develop the lifelong skill of numeracy.
Many students recognise the importance of studying Mathematics at secondary school as it allows them to pursue careers in fields such as Health Sciences, Engineering and Business. To ensure they are prepared for careers in these areas Avila students can choose to do the relevant Mathematics subjects at VCE level;
- Year 11 General Maths Further, Mathematical Methods, Specialist Maths. Students can also choose to study Further Maths Units 3 and 4 in Year 11
- Year 12 Further Maths, Mathematical Methods and Specialist Maths.
Students in all year levels can enter the Australian Maths Competition and Year 7 students have the opportunity to enter the Maths Olympiad. Both competitions allow students to experience a variety of problem solving challenges and an international field of students enters each of these competitions. Year 7 and 8 students who would like to investigate a particular area of interest in Maths can enter the Maths Talent Quest and test their investigative skills against other Victorian students.
The study of Science allows us to investigate important questions related to our world, ourselves and our interactions.
- Opportunities for students to develop an understanding of important scientific concepts and processes
- Insight into practices used to develop scientific knowledge, of science’s contribution to our culture and society, and its applications in life
- The opportunity for the development of rigorous analysis of data and information.
In line with the Australian Curriculum, the three strands covered are Science Understanding, Science as a Human Endeavour and Science Inquiry Skills.
From the incredibly tiny particles within atoms to the vast expanses of the Universe, science captures the curiosity and wonder of discovery, and searches for patterns, laws and connections. Science also spans time, whether it be an understanding of the processes involved in the formation of the Earth, how the face of the Earth and life on it has changed over billions of years, to the exploration of space. The questions of energy supply and the role of science in emerging technologies and sustainability is also explored.
Science as a Human Endeavour
We investigate Science as a Human Endeavour, recognising how our current knowledge has been accumulated piece by piece from the working of others. Students are taught the usefulness and limitations of theoretical models. Inspired by the advances made by past and current scientists, we hope that some of our students will go on to contribute to future development in science.
Science Inquiry Skills
Students learn how to make testable predictions and how best to test these predictions. They analyse their findings and look for yet more questions. They undertake extended investigations often incorporating elements of student design. They develop technical laboratory skills, and an awareness of safety and environmental responsibility.
The content of Science units covers the four intertwined disciplines of;
- Earth Sciences (Geology and Astronomy)
Biology is the study of living matter. Topics include cells, classification, ecology, body systems, genetics and evolution. VCE units are offered in Biology and Psychology.
Chemistry is the study of matter. Topics include solids, liquids and gases, atomic theory, chemical reactions, development and use of the Periodic Table and organic chemistry.
Earth Sciences is the study of the Earth Topics, which include the rock cycle, seasons and tides, layers of the Earth, plate tectonics, global cycles, ages of the Earth and Astronomy.
Physics is the study of the behaviour of the Universe. Topics include the forces, machines, energy forms and transformations, kinetics, electricity and astrophysics.
Interdisciplinary subjects such as Consumer Science, Environmental Science and Forensic Science are undertaken in Years 9 and 10. VCE Science units are offered in Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Psychology.
At Avila, students are also offered the rare opportunity to study Agricultural and Horticultural Studies with a dedicated ‘AgHort’ Centre for this purpose. Studies start with a semester length horticultural investigation offered for Year 9 Enviro Stream students leading through to VCE studies.
Students study Information Technology in Year 7 to become familiar with their MacBook computers and to learn about safe and effective ways to use digital technology across all their learning.
Students build knowledge in coding and learn to be responsible digital citizens.
In Year 8 students are introduced to Food Technology and Design Technology (Textiles). Through the study of Technology students consider real life needs, wants and opportunities and respond to them by developing a range of ideas leading to the creation of innovative products or systems.
Students develop skills in managing and manipulating materials and resources using a range of specialist tools, equipment and machines. Studying Technology involves planning and organising production, and evaluating products and systems. By studying technology students learn about design, functionality, aesthetics, social, cultural, economic and environmental issues as they develop their practical skills.
All Avila College students study Art, Drama and Music as part of the Arts learning area.
Study of The Arts is compulsory in the Junior School and is offered as an elective in Years 9,10 and VCE. Students are encouraged to be active participants in all of the Arts subjects they study. The courses are designed in such a way that students who have a talent in an area are encouraged to develop their skills and excel. At the same time, each course is designed to accommodate the learning needs of students for whom this is a new experience.
Art at Avila is a great opportunity for students to express their creativity using many different mediums. From Year 7 students studying Art are;
- Exposed to the history of art and experience practical areas using a range of media such as pencil, paint and charcoal
- Exploring ideas and starting points for artworks
- Experimenting with additional techniques and processes such as print-making, collage and three-dimensional constructions
- Learning to analyse and evaluate the work of professional artists as well as their own creative pieces.
Art provides students with;
- An avenue to express their creativity
- A non verbal means of communication
- The opportunity to develop self esteem
- The chance to develop skills across a range of mediums
- The challenge of understanding and appreciating different art styles
- The prospect of exhibiting their artworks in the Annual Arts Show
- The ability to work collaboratively or as part of a team.
Drama is an exciting part of the curriculum and co-curricular activities at Avila. It helps to develop invaluable skills such as self-confidence, articulation, leadership qualities, teamwork, and responsibility as well as more creative-based talents.
The program is extensive and incorporates many elements such as script work, voice, movement, improvisation, individual and group performances and character work. Visiting artists present their work at the College and students also attend outside professional theatre performances.
One of the highlights of the school calendar is the annual Creative Arts Festival, which is a showcase of students’ talents in drama, dance and music. More than 400 students are involved in the production, both on stage and behind-the-scenes.
MATCO (the Mazenod Avila Theatre Company) provides students with further performance opportunities. Each year students from Avila and Mazenod Boys College pool their talents for an annual musical extravaganza and their shows have included My Fair Lady, Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Guys and Dolls, 42nd Street, Anything Goes, HMS Pinafore, The Boyfriend, West Side Story, South Pacific and Footloose.
Music is an integral component of Avila life and a love of music is encouraged in all students. Avila’s vibrant Music Department enjoys an outstanding reputation and our musicians are often invited to perform at major functions throughout Melbourne.
Invaluable performance opportunities are offered by joining the 110-piece Orchestra, Senior Ensemble, Junior Concert Band, the Junior, Senior and Chamber Choirs, Flute Choir, Clarinet Ensemble, Brass Ensemble, Percussion Ensemble, String Orchestra, String Ensemble, Guitar Ensemble, Cello Ensemble, Stage Band, and Rock Band. Approximately 360 students are currently learning instruments through the Music Department.
The Annual Avila Music Festival is among the exciting highlights on the school calendar. It showcases the talents of all the music groups and many of the excellent instrumentalists and vocalists. The Creative Arts Festival is another annual entertainment extravaganza. It draws on many disciplines including music, drama, dance and art. The work of the backstage crew is also highly valued.
Music is extremely valued because it:
- Develops self-confidence, self-esteem and a sense of responsibility
- Fosters a life-long appreciation of Music and the Arts in general
- Provides great personal satisfaction through participation in orchestra, choirs, and ensemble groups.