Andrea Sherwood is Director of Learning at leading Adelaide independent school, Westminster School.
Can you tell us about your career and how it led to the Director of Learning at Westminster School?
I joined Westminster School as Director of Learning in January 2010.
Originally from the UK, I have spent my entire career working in education roles.
My experience in this sector spans close to 15 years.
I started working as a French and German teacher at the prestigious George Spencer Academy in Nottingham. Shortly after, I was promoted to a Head of Year role and then to a key stage manager job as a Pastoral Leader for Years 9-12.
After gaining many years of pastoral experience, I moved into an Assistant Principal role, which allowed me to learn and strengthen my skills in curriculum and timetable development.
Upon visiting Australia during Christmas 2007 with my husband (who is Australian), we both decided that a sea change would be a good step for our family. We moved to Australia in late 2008 with our two children.
Briefly, what does your role involve?
Essentially, it encompasses anything that is to do with learning – in particular, curriculum development.
My job is to ensure that Westminster School has a balanced, positive and engaging 21st Century curriculum that students from Early Learning to Year 12 want to learn and teachers want to teach.
Westminster School has a very diverse curriculum that gives students the skills and attributes that they will require to become independent learners in a contemporary society.
Our curriculum incorporates a comprehensive range of subjects and counseling services designed to help students identify and successfully pursue their career goals. It is continually monitored and refined to allow for new initiatives and to realise the strengths and reflect the passions of our teaching staff.
Could you please tell us more about Westminster’s approach to education and student learning?
Westminster is one of Adelaide’s leading independent, co-educational schools.
Our philosophy is to provide a personalised education and a welcoming community environment.
While it’s important that our students achieve academic success, there is also a big focus on establishing close relationships with students and their families, as well as nurturing and strengthening their personal competencies.
For instance, our extensive pastoral care, co-curricular activities and involvement with global association the Round Square form a big part of Westminster School’s approach to learning. Collectively, these programs help to engage students and their interests and assist them in becoming positive and empowered leaders of the world.
Personally, I am overwhelmed by the effort that goes into ensuring a strong cocurricular program. These activities not only provide an opportunity for individual and group involvement, but also a chance for students to find success and a sense of their own personal worth beyond the classroom.
There is definitely an air of confidence that resonates within our student body. I think it’s wonderful.
Westminster School offers a broad range of subject choices for Year 12 students. What benefits does this provide?
Westminster School actively encourages our students to take a balanced approach to life. This includes an appropriate balance of their core subjects with complementary co-curricular activities.
We pride ourselves on offering a huge range of subject choices for our Year 12 students. Currently, we offer around 43 different courses, with more available through external study if necessary.
A large subject range allows students to capitalise on their individual strengths, maximise their results and heighten their confidence and self-esteem. Our students really appreciate this, too, as it gives them the opportunity to study what they need to study in order achieve their future goals. It also enhances their enjoyment of the curriculum.
While we do give them some guidance, students really appreciate the freedom and flexibility to make their own informed choices.
What are the most rewarding aspects of your job?
Interacting and conversing with young people on a daily basis is very refreshing.
I also love to see our students succeed at everything they do.
Similarly, it’s wonderful to be part of such a great leadership team at Westminster School. The community element within the School is just tremendous. I am constantly interacting with teachers, students, parents and old scholars on a daily basis – it’s fantastic!
Finally, it’s very inspirational to see Westminster students supporting one another, as well as the wider community, on a daily basis.
What have been the highlights of your career to date?
At my previous teaching role in the UK, I taught a group of Year 7 students and saw them right through to Year 12. In their final exams, the students hit the heights of exam results that year. It was very touching.
Joining Westminster School in January last year was also a major highlight for me. Each day, I feel very privileged to be part of such a tremendous School.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I enjoy going to the beach, walking, rest and relaxation, as well as spending time with my husband and two children, Anna and Robbie.