Middle Learning Community

From 2021 Hillcrest Christian College has introduced the Middle Learning Community (MLC) for students in Years 5-8. This will create three similar-sized learning communities with approximately 500 students in each, providing smaller communities and stronger connections across the College. Together with the Early Learning Community, the College consists of:

The Middle Years

At a stage where students are undergoing many physical, social and emotional changes, students require a focussed approach in early adolescence to meet their specific needs. A distinctive feature of the MLC will be the strong emphasis on student welfare and the critical relationship between home and school in the pursuit of the best outcomes for each student.

As Professor Stephen Dinham writes, ‘The middle years are a critical period when young people experience substantial physical and emotional change…’

Hillcrest Christian College plans to address these changes through building quality relationships with our students and providing real-world and authentic learning in a new, dedicated facility.

Educational research makes it clear that students learn differently. These differences include the manner in which they engage and interact with learning materials, their preferred learning styles and the degree and manner in which they learn.

"The Middle School is about guiding students with age-appropriate learning that builds personal interests and strengths while supporting social and emotional wellbeing for every child"

Organisational Model

The Executive team at Hillcrest have worked with international researcher, Dr Rob Loe, to study the effects of relationships within the schooling system. His Relational Schools Project has outlined the opportunity that smaller learning communities enable the building of robust relationships between students, staff and the wider community.

A delicate balance is required to offer the resources, opportunities and social interactions of a larger school while creating smaller communities where each child is known and can build strong relationships.

Organisational Structure

The MLC will foster relationships by focussing our support through four domains to engage personal interests and continue to on the natural strengths in all our students.

These domains include:

  • Intellectual - Design Centred Learning, Academic Programs, Literacy & Numeracy
  • Global - Innovation, SECRET Skills, Real World Learning
  • Emotional - Wellbeing, Relationships, Positive Behaviours
  • Spiritual - Service Mindset, Student Leadership, Student Identify in Christ

Signature Practices

Our signature programs and practices are recognised as vital to the development of future-focussed learners.

Agile Learning Spaces

Students in the MLC share a flexible environment featuring various sized learning spaces. This open plan layout provides flexibility for teachers to use space that aligns with student learning activities and more closely resembles the experience of working in the real world.

Outside the existing building, a new covered area is being built to provide a beautiful new space for indoor/outdoor learning as well as adding to the existing space for MLC students during breaks. This will be similar to our Senior undercover area (pictured below) and provide more flexibility and space for students to collaborate while taking advantage of our beautiful climate year-round.

Discover through a virtual tour the Year 7-8 Precinct

​Design-Centred Learning

Design-Centred Learning (DCL) is a teaching model in which students learn by actively engaging in real-world and personally connected projects. Collaboration is at the heart of the model and drives students in groups through a ‘Design Thinking’ framework known as the six8s. Through empathy and learning about audience, students start at the Investig8 phase and move through refining, testing and evaluating phases before finishing at the Celebr8 phase, creating a public product or presentation for a real audience.

Students are encouraged to demonstrate their understanding in innovative and effective ways and share this with their peers. To facilitate collaboration and learning differentiation Hillcrest uses both specific facilities and appropriate use of technology to maximise our delivery of these contemporary learning skills.

Having more flexible learning environments enables students to work in small groups, work together on problems, discuss solutions, use and evaluate data, and present their findings.


The SECRET Skills are a set of essential life and work skills that have been identified by business and educational leaders across the world as being critical to success in the workplace.

Designed by British educator Dan Buckley, the SECRET Skills framework is comprised of six skill domains which make up the SECRET acronym:

  • Self-Manager
  • Effective Participator
  • Creative Thinker
  • Reflective Learner
  • Enquirer
  • Team Worker

Within each skill domain, there are four sub-skills, covering Cognitive, Strategic, Social and Emotional elements. One of the defining features of the SECRET Skills framework is that it is self and peer-assessed; while teachers facilitate and encourage students to achieve their SECRET Skills goals, it is the students themselves who are ultimately responsible for collecting evidence in order to achieve accreditation and recognition at each of the nine levels of the framework.

Real World Learning And Industry Partnerships

Hillcrest collaborates with many external agencies and industries to provide real word learning experiences for students. One of our partnerships is being a HUB school for the Gateway to Industry Schools Program (GISP) for Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering. Collaborations such as this ensure students have access to authentic learning experiences and the experience of being mentored by professionals across a wide range of industries and fields.

Driving innovative thinking and an entrepreneurial mindset is vital pieces of preparing students for the future and we model this learning through our DCL projects.

Vertical Pastoral Groups (Life Groups)

Students in the MLC will have opportunities to form strong bonds and community spirit through our vertical pastoral care structure. The need for social and emotional support has been well documented and Life Groups provide a different connection point for students. These vertical Life Groups place students together from Years 5-6 and 7-8 and together these groups attend Assemblies, Gatherings (Chapel) along with their first interaction in the morning.

As students progress into the Senior Learning Community (SLC) the vertical program extends to have vertical Life Groups from Years 9-12, extending their community support which they have fostered within the MLC.

"You guys have made this the best part of coming to school each day, and made my time at Hillcrest the best I could have wished for."
Hannah - (Class of 2020) to her Life Group peers

Senior Learning Community

Students move into the Senior Learning Community (SLC) at Year 9, choosing their pathway based around studying core subjects, elective subjects or vocational and tertiary pathways. This flexibility aligns with an individual's personal interests and strengths and combined with staff support, provides the necessary roadmap to drive students towards their future goals.