Over recent years our school enrolment has been approximately 50-60 children with 3-4 teachers. The classes are organised so that all children within the school share the expertise of each of the teachers. Sometimes the children are grouped according to ages, sometimes they are organised into family groups and sometimes the whole school is together. The idea is that each child feels he/she has three/four teachers and that all teachers are responsible for each of the children.
Our school follows the NSW Education Standards Authority curriculum guidelines, but the method and approach reflects the school’s commitment to active learning and positive relationships between teachers and children. The basic skills of reading, spelling, writing and mathematics are taught in a structured way where each child achieves success and progresses at his/her own rate.
To complement our structured basic skills lessons, we use an integrated approach to other areas of the curriculum. This is called our Main Lesson/ Enquiry Learning, where a theme is developed over a number of weeks in an imaginative and creative way. Working with theme lessons over an extended period enables the child and teacher to become enthusiastic about what is being studied and to understand it in both breadth and depth.
Some of the Main Lesson themes we have done in the past are: The First Australians, Exploring Space, Dragons, Graphs, Leisure Time, Symmetry, Ancient Egypt, How We are Governed, Electricity, History of the Hawkesbury, Science in an Eggshell and Habitats.
Activities during the Main Lesson might include experiments, problem solving, art and craft, music, research projects, story writing and written work, all based around the theme. While the children all work on the same theme, the content of the work depends on the stage of individual children. As an example, when the Main Lesson topic was “Exploring Space”, Kindergarten children talked about and painted a picture of the moon, while the Years 5 & 6 children investigated the phases of the moon with a model in a darkened room. At the end of the Main Lesson theme, each child’s work is compiled into a Main Lesson Book for that theme. The content of the book is different for different children, based on their age or stage of development.