Newcastle High's Cooks Hill Campus set to expand

Newcastle High's Cooks Hill Campus year 10 student Connor Pickens, 15, from Beresfield with advisory teacher Matt Erich.

Newcastle High's Cooks Hill Campus year 10 student Connor Pickens, 15, from Beresfield with advisory teacher Matt Erich.

THE number of local students learning through self-directed means is about to increase by a third as Newcastle High's Cooks Hill Campus expands.

Six months after opening, the Laman Streetcampus is looking to take on more students under the "Big Picture" model of education.

The school, which has 85 year 9 and 10 students, will take on more new enrolments next year and expand to year 11.

Unlike your typical high school classroom, Cooks Hill Campus students work independently at their own pace.

Students are encouraged to engage in their own interests and create their own personalised learning plans in smaller classrooms, as well as taking part in a once-a-week workplace internship.

Typically, classrooms have about 17 students and are guided through their work one-on-one by an adviser. All of the learning is at the Cooks Hill Campus, except for science classes, which are held at Newcastle High.

Year 10 student Connor Pickens, 15, from Beresfield, transferred from the Hunter School of the Performing Arts after being bullied.

Although Connor went through a hard-fought audition process to attend the selective high school, he quickly became disenfranchised.

Since enrolling in the new school, he has not looked back.

"I've learnt so much stuff about myself here I wouldn't have learnt at my old school," he said.

"I love drawing anime so much and I didn't realise that until I came here."

Connor's major project for the semester will revolve around the Japanese comic artform and he plans to go to university after finishing his HSC.

He wants to pursue a career in writing, drawing, design or animation.

Connor said the culture and structure of the school allowed students to achieve to the best of their abilities.

Other students are building computers, designing surfboards and writing novels.

"Independence is a big thing for this generation. If they are struggling at their school they should look at coming here," he said.

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