A Barker education is shaped by our focus on preparing for a life beyond the school gates. We seek to expose our students to diverse opportunities and experiences to develop resilience and adaptability within a supportive environment. We have a beautiful heritage at Barker, yet we are preparing students for a future that will be far less defined by gender roles than in the past.
As they have before, and as they will again, each Barker student contributes to the School and leaves well-prepared to take their place in the world beyond the Mint Gates. Barker was founded by The Reverend Henry Plume at Kurrajong Heights in early 1890 with five pupils and was named for Plume's mentor and friend, The Right Reverend Frederic Barker, the second Bishop of Sydney.
When the Rev Plume established his School, he had little interest in school uniforms and badges. However, as a concession to the prevailing custom, he permitted the boys to wear a red and blue hatband. He selected these colors from Corpus Christi College at Cambridge University in England, where he had been a student. When the School moved to Hornsby in 1896, he allowed the cricket and football teams to wear red and blue colors when competing against local teams.
The academic program is the core business of any school. The teaching staff at Barker College are committed to a whole-school approach to curriculum development and delivery of the curriculum's material being various and flexible enough to cater to the needs of every student. Barker has prioritized a curriculum that supports our mission to encourage students to thrive.
The Barker approach to inquiry seeks to enrich and extend students as they move to the more subject-based setting of Middle and Senior schools. A feature of the curriculum in Years 7 to 10 will be units of inquiry that connect and enrich subjects through shared content and concepts. These units will be delivered in a Blended Learning environment. As the curriculum becomes more prescriptive in Years 11 and 12, students can use the inquiry mindset and skillset they have developed to complete assignments, significant works and continue to support their learning by making connections between subjects rather than seeing them isolation.
A focus on inquiry is often misrepresented as undervaluing subject knowledge and overlooking the value of explicit teaching. At Barker, we do not see these approaches as mutually exclusive. Effective inquiry learning rests on students being knowledgeable and seeking more in-depth knowledge by asking questions. A knowledge-rich curriculum that promotes deeper thinking is at the heart of the Barker curriculum.
Barker's Junior School from Pre-K to Year 6 is an environment where all children are encouraged, challenged, and engaged in learning and co-curricular experiences appropriate to children of their age. Barker's Junior School aims to develop knowledgeable learners, caring, open-minded, balanced, principled, reflective, communicators, thinkers, risk-takers, and inquirers. It is these ten attributes that we believe are important in their learning journey.
In 2018, we welcomed girls into our Pre-K and Kindergarten classes, with girls entering Year 3 from 2019. Educating girls at Barker is not new for us. The Senior School has been educating girls since 1975. We believe a coeducational school experience provides a safe environment where young men and women can grow up together, learn to collaborate respectfully, and appreciate the differing viewpoints that each brings.
The introduction of Inquiry Learning in the Junior School focuses on developing young learners and preparing them to succeed. In 2017, a new timetable was introduced in the Junior School with learning as the key motivator for change. Hour blocks of literacy and numeracy in each class are provided every day. Each year group incorporates units of inquiry into their teaching and learning programs. These units focus on developing knowledge, understanding, skills, attitudes, and actions, particularly in science and Technology, Geography, and History.
Barker's academic program is a whole-school approach to learning. We have a curriculum that is rigorous and which values inquiry, thinking, and understanding. The teaching staff at Barker are committed to curriculum development and delivery, unified by a shared sense of purpose as expressed in our Mission and Vision. Research suggests that a strong relationship with pastoral care leaders is paramount to creating a sense of belonging and academic morale. With the size of a pastoral care unit at Barker at approximately 22 students, every student is known and cared for. Our Pastoral Care system sees the students' welfare as the responsibility of all staff, with key staff in House and Year leadership roles having overarching responsibility for students' care.
Barker's curriculum is adaptive and flexible, allowing for student choice and catering for interest and ability. Withing teaching for the Understanding framework, Barker students are taught to think critically, apply knowledge in new situations, and develop the skills needed to become lifelong learners. We use data to track student progress during each year and from year to year, giving us a deep understanding of student strengths, areas for improvement, and development over time. We continue our strong traditional commitment to the core subjects of English, Maths, Science, History, Geography, PDHPE, Languages, and Christian Studies. We also provide an increased opportunity for students to explore their interests and abilities in the Key Learning Areas of Agriculture, Commercial Studies, Computer Science, Visual Arts, Design and Technology, Music, and Drama.