Our primary school is small and provides a nurturing and stimulating environment for the development of social, academic and creative learning.
We take time to establish strong foundations for future learning. The learning process is valued both for itself and as a means of producing quality work. Rhythms and routines, such as the morning circle, are emphasised as a means of settling children into school, learning to balance individual and group needs, and establishing trusting, respectful relationships between students and teachers. From kindergarten onwards, we maintain an emphasis on quality – our classrooms are bright, welcoming and well equipped; our teachers are professional, caring and committed.
Our integrated curriculum, organised around the concept of the Focus Study, encourages intensive focus and maximises children’s desire to learn.
Our multiple-age class structure expands children’s social and learning horizons and allows us to accommodate children’s needs in a supportive environment. There are three cycles in the primary school. The first consists of kindergarten with classes 1 and 2, the second is classes 3 and 4 and the third is classes 5 and 6. Children remain with their K/1/2 teachers and their 3,4 and 5,6 teachers for two years. In addition, the primary school employs specialist teachers for art, PE, library and Japanese. A student support teacher and School Counsellor is also available.
Kindergarten is a foundational year for children beginning their life's experience of school. It is essential that during this year children develop a positive attitude towards school and learning.
In kindergarten at Korowal, we have our own "three Rs": rhythm, routine, and readiness. The rhythm of the day begins with morning circle (see below). The routines of school are firmly established by the class teachers, with whom the child will usually spend three years. Both rhythm and routine are crucial in helping kindergarten children to settle securely into school. Readiness refers to the emphasis that we place on pre-literacy and pre-numeracy. The children learn how to play games that will make formal learning easier and free of stress. Activities may involve movement, music or matching pictures, colours or shapes. For the kindergarten child who can already read, the games and activities are still enjoyable and help develop interpersonal and social skills. Beautiful books are available in the classroom for readers and non-readers to enjoy during free play.
Kindergarten is a time for laying strong foundations for all the essential skills required for formal learning, for creative work, for a secure relationship with the teachers and other children and for the future enjoyment of learning. We allow young children at Korowal the time and opportunity to be children, to be playful and joyful.
Morning circle is a special feature of primary education at Korowal. It is essential for establishing strong and trusting relationships within the group and between teachers and children. It sets the tone for the classroom and is an effective and lively way of teaching a variety of skills.
At the beginning of each morning, the children enter the classroom and form a circle with the teachers. We share a song or poem and exchange greetings.
Each class develops its own particular morning circle routines. The K/1/2 children sing, learn poems, practise counting, play musical instruments, dance and play games. The 3/4/5 children sing, play musical instruments, learn poems and drama skills, practise maths skills and discuss issues. In this way, the children learn to:
- feel secure in the class group
- become an equally valued member of the group
- memorise, recite and perform
- develop musical skills
- take turns
- discuss issues relevant to the group
- accept and appreciate differences
- respect one another.
The Focus Study is a curriculum concept that enables students to be immersed in a subject for an extended period. The child experiences the Focus Study topic in many different ways, which may include music, art, craft, and drama, as well as the more traditional skills of writing, reading, listening and research. Focus Study takes place each day, and themes raised can be linked with work in other subjects during the week.
Each term there is usually one Focus Study for classes K/1/2 and two Focus Studies for classes 3,4,5 and 6. To suit our multiple-age classes, we plan our Focus Studies on a three-year cycle for K,1,2 and a two-year cycle for 3,4 and 4,5, ensuring that every child experiences each Focus Study once.
Multiple-age classes are a way of organising class groups to maximise both educational and social enrichment. Because each child has a unique combination of talents and needs, a child in a multiple-age class can be both extended and supported by learning with younger and older children.
Our current structure in the primary school is as follows:
Kindergarten, class 1 and class 2: one group with a specialist teaching team. Most mornings begin with the whole group and several teachers (the K/1/2 community), after which each year group, with a maximum of 20 children, works with a single teacher, including specialist teachers.
Classes 3, 4 and 5, 6: Each year group has its own class teacher. The teachers work closely together. This year the students from year 4 sometimes work with year 3 and sometimes with year 5. All classes continue to work with specialist teachers.
In high school, multiple-age learning is used for elective subjects in years 8 – 10, and for years 11 and 12 via the Pathways system. See the high-school section.
Primary school teachers
The class teacher
Our aim is to provide stable, trusting and respectful relationships between teachers, children and parents, which last for several years. This allows for the development of relationships in which teachers understand each child's particular needs, potential and individuality, and children understand their teachers' expectations and routines.
Our multiple-age class groups and their teaching teams develop a sense of meaningful community. Teachers constantly interact with each other. Children have nurturing relationships with several teachers. This allows us to provide secure and lasting teacher-student relationships while avoiding the stress and vulnerability that can arise in a single-teacher class group. It also allows students to benefit from the expertise of several individual teachers.
We find that when teachers have long-term commitments to their students, they go to great lengths to understand and value all children equally, and to find ways of developing a mutually rewarding relationship with each child. In the family, we love our children equally, even though each child is different and some are more challenging than others. At Korowal, we aim to provide in the school environment this sense of family security and acceptance.
In the primary school, we balance stable, nurturing relationships between children and their class teachers with the stimulation provided by specialist teachers. In addition to their class teachers, children have specialist teachers in art, PE, Japanese and library. There are two full-time teachers' aides who work in Primary School classes.
Communication with Parents
Each class has a parent-teacher meeting at the beginning of the school year, when the class teacher outlines the goals for the year and parents are encouraged to ask questions.
At the end of term 2, teachers meet with each child's parent/s to discuss the child's progress and share relevant information. We supply written reports at the end of the school year. Parents and teachers may contact each other at any time throughout the school year if any matter of concern arises.
Class teachers post letters and general information regularly on the School website, on the NOTICeBOARD.