Our Impact

Creating a new curriculum for Adventist schools


Team Dr Peter Kilgour, Director: Christian Education Research Centre, Avondale University College
Ms Beverly Christian Avondale University College Ms Sandra Ludlow, Avondale University College
Dr Daryl Murdoch, Director: Adventist Schools Australia
Dr David McClintock, then Director: Adventist Schools Northern Australia; now principal Avondale SchoolMs Lanelle Cobbin, Curriculum Officer: Adventist Schools New Zealand Ms Rosalie McFarLane, Director: Adventist Schools New Zealand
Ms Georgina Winzenried, Curriculum Officer (Primary): Adventist Schools Australia
Ms Nina Aitcheson, Curriculum Officer (Secondary): Adventist Schools Australia Ms Sandra England, Director of Learning: Gilson College, Victoria
Ms Karen Stanton, Carmel Adventist College, Western Australia
Ms Jodie Humphries, Coordinator Early encounter: Adventist School Australia (from 2105)
A list of all individual participants in this collaborative project is available.
Description Researchers partnered with Adventist school systems to develop a holistic biblical studies curriculum called Encounter that brings together sound pedagogical frameworks with biblical content.
Impact Summary Adventist schools across Australia and New Zealand have adopted the Encounter Curriculum. Since the initial implementation, Adventist schools in Britain and North America have begun using the Encounter program. Negotiation and training is under way for implementation of Encounter in Middle East and North African Adventist schools.


The Adventist school system in Australia and New Zealand did not have a religious studies or biblical studies curriculum that was current, reflected sound pedagogical practice and was compatible with the national curricula.

While previous curricula were in existence there was no flow from primary schools to the secondary years, and nothing to cater for the Early Learning Sector. Teachers experienced difficulties with interpreting the existing syllabus documents and units of work, many of which had been prepared in hard-copy format in the late ‘90s and were becoming scarce. The research team responded to this need for a comprehensive biblical studies curriculum which would cater for students from pre-school to Year 12 in national and international contexts.


The focus of this research project was to develop an educationally sound biblical studies curriculum that would meet the specific special-character needs of the Adventist school system.


The Adventist Encounter curriculum is currently taught in four countries, and negotiations with additional countries is in progress.

The British school system of the Adventist church became aware of the Adventist Encounter Curriculum and a representative was sent to the United Kingdom in 2011 for collaborative discussions, and as a result the Adventist Encounter Curriculum has been adopted as the biblical studies curriculum in UK schools.

In 2014 the Adventist School system in North America sponsored a group of teaching practitioners to come to New Zealand and Australia to observe how the Encounter Curriculum worked in the classrooms, and this visit resulted in the adoption of the Encounter Curriculum in North American Adventist school system. A writer from the steering committee is currently located in the USA to work on extending the program to senior years, and a second writer is working off-location to help contextualise parts of the curriculum for North American culture. Encounter units for secondary schools became available to teachers in the North American school system in July, 2015. The feedback from students in North American schools has been positive:
It’s relaxed but not easy. I come to school looking forward to Bible class because it’s fun and not stressful, but it’s also deep. I’ve explored my beliefs a lot more this year. It’s really made me think and grow. It’s much less stressful without tests and homework and I learn so much better. This curriculum is God smart not just book smart. (Student 1, Year 9, US)

I like how teen-oriented it is. We aren’t just hearing the same stories the same way. The curriculum shows a new light on the stories so we can have a different and less-biased view. (Student 2, Year 9, US)

Encounter units for primary schools were available to teachers in North America for the school year commencing in August/September 2016. The future adoption of the Adventist Encounter curriculum inschools in the Middle East and North Africa was supported by a training program run in August 2015, and negotiations for the implementation are in progress.

Future Direction

The Encounter collaborators are about to roll out the Early Encounters Program for early- education centres, and work is continuing on a scope and sequence for senior students. The research team plan to collect data to complete a longitudinal study on the efficacy of the Encounter Curriculum.

Field of Research (FOR)

130211 Religion Curriculum and Pedagogy


Adventist Schools Australia, Adventist Schools New Zealand.

Supporting Publications

Christian, B. and Kilgour, P. (2014) "Faith Formation: Perceptions of primary and high-school students in Australian Adventist schools. TEACH Journal of Christian Education: Vol. 8: Iss. 2, Article 6. Available at: http://research.avondale.edu.au/teach/vol8/iss2/6
Cobbin, L (2010). Holistic Religious Education: Toward a more transparent pathway from philosophy to practice. Thesis Master Coursework Paper 2. http://research.avondale.edu.au/theses_masters_coursework/2
Cobbin, L. (2012). The transformational Planning Framework: Pathway to holistic biblical teaching.TEACH Journal of Christian Education 8(1), Article 4. Available at: http://research.avondale.edu.au/teach/vol5/iss1/4
Cobbin, L. and Atcheson, N. (2014) "Adventist Encounter Curriculum: The story continues," TEACH Journal of Christian Education: Vol. 8: Iss. 2, Article 2. Available at: http://research.avondale.edu.au/teach/vol8/iss2/2