Rebecca Rourke


Rebecca Rourke with MLC student Sophie Gilbert

When Rebecca Rourke first arrived at MLC at the start of 2014 she had one goal in mind: To ensure that every child meet their potential and feel good about doing so.

There's no difference in MLC's Head of Inclusive Learning's goal for children who are struggling academically and those who are flying ahead.

Ms Rourke says it all comes down to supporting the students to ensure each girl reaches their potential.

That is possible, she says, as MLC's Preferred Educational Model, or PEM, caps classes at an average of 20.

The way in which support is offered is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Students can be supported one-on-one, small groups or as a whole class in the classroom or in small groups outside their classroom. A teacher may alter the way they deliver the curriculum. Students may be asked to use an app to support their learning and they may even be assessed differently from their peers.

"There is no limit to the range of modifications that can be applied to support students to reach their potential," Ms Rourke said.

MLC has a sizable cohort of gifted and talented students, and some students who have been accelerated to a higher year group. Those in Junior Years are supported within the classroom but also take part in additional programmes including Stretchy Thinking, Tim Winton Writers' Competition, Dorothy McKellar Poetry Competition, and Murder Under the Microscope. There is also a Maths Olympiad which is run by the Dean of Junior Years, Michael Brown.

In Middle Years, students can take part in Future Problem Solving, a competition which brings together some of the best students in the world and, in 2015, students will be offered places in an additional course called 2Excel

Girls who are performing at a higher year level can be put up a grade once they have been tested and information collated about the student's development using the Iowa Acceleration Scale which considers all aspects of a student life to ensure success.

"We've got quite a thorough process by which we check whether that's been a successful move or not, and many strategies in place support to the student, the parents and the teachers," Ms Rourke said.

"You'll often find that students who are gifted will enjoy talking to adults rather than their peers. It's because their interests differ from their peers.

"Their social skills will often improve if they are with a group that are more academically like-minded."

Ms Rourke has a wealth of experience working in Inclusive Learning. She left the Australian International School in Singapore to join MLC, and has also worked in Indonesia and at St Mark's Anglican Community School in Western Australia. In the United States, Ms Rourke trained teachers.

She is also the author of education literacy material which is used by teachers across the world.

Her "can-do" attitude is already showing results for individual students and their teachers.

"Working with the staff here at MLC is an absolute pleasure. Staff are committed to meeting the needs of the girls," Ms Rourke said.

"We have girls being given more time to do their tests. Questions are being read to girls, adults are scribing answers.

"Modifications are being made for students each and every day and that's without fanfare: it's just teachers addressing the needs of their students and allowing them to achieve and demonstrate their potential. We are getting better at this every day.

"All of our students have every opportunity to experiences success."