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  • Print publication year: 2017
  • Online publication date: August 2019

Chapter 12 - Case study: Wilderness School, Adelaide, South Australia

    • By Heather De Blasio, Director of Learning and Teacher Excellence at Wilderness School, an independent, non-denominational school in Adelaide, South Australia., Michael Francis, Coordinator of Assessment, Learning and Teaching (Secondary) at the University of Melbourne and a teaching specialist at the Assessment Research Centre.
  • Patrick Griffin, University of Melbourne
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • DOI:
  • pp 266-280


Learning Objectives

In this chapter you will learn to:

  • • understand some of the challenges, solutions and rewards that teachers and schools may encounter when working with the Assessment for Teaching model
  • • identify different ways in which teachers may use developmental assessment rubrics and judgement-based assessments to locate and use evidence of student learning to inform teaching during the process of learning
  • • grasp how students can be empowered to use developmental assessment rubrics to identify evidence of learning and current achievement and set specific learning goals to improve performance.
  • This chapter documents how one school has approached the task of introducing and implementing the Assessment for Teaching model and is designed to support schools considering the adoption of this model. It explains how the school leadership team undertook the process of planning, providing time, resources and professional learning to support and build teachers’ capacity to use assessment rubrics to search for evidence of learning. This approach was designed to inform scaffolded teaching targeted at what students are ready to learn. The chapter also identifies the positive impact of the approach on both teachers’ professional practice and student outcomes.


    Wilderness School is an independent, non-denominational day and boarding school for girls (Early Learning to Year 12) bordering the parklands of the central business district of Adelaide, South Australia. Founded by the Brown sisters in 1884, Wilderness is a non-selective school welcoming students with diverse learning needs. Girls from local, rural, interstate and international locations make up the student population of approximately 750.

    Wilderness has a long tradition of providing a high-quality education for girls. The Year 12 results for 2015 are a typical example of this. Of the student cohort, 70 per cent were placed in the top 10 per cent, 57 per cent in the top 5 per cent, and 18 per cent in the top 1 per cent of Year 12 students nationally. Results in the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) present a similar picture. Wilderness has regularly been the best-performing school in South Australia in a number of domains and year levels, as well as figuring in the top 50 nationally, as reported independently in The Australian (Balogh 2016).