Building Connectedness

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Some time ago I was genuinely shocked by a school advertising its Kindergarten under a banner ‘VCE STARTS HERE’.

As an educator, and as a parent, it saddened me to think that families would be attracted by this enticement. I guess we see this sort of thinking acted out in the daily spectacle of small children dressed up in formal uniforms and already developing the posture required to carry a heavy backpack of books, lugged home each night for the obligatory hours of homework, justified as necessary training for young minds into the routines supposedly needed to ensure high achievement at the end of Year 12.

It is sad to imagine the level of anxiety parents must feel about their child’s future that would lead then to condemning their precious child to years of rote rehearsal of the habits and routines supposedly guaranteeing success.

Preshil has resolutely chosen a different approach to learning and to the stages of schooling. An approach which values and actively cultivates the fearless imagination all children possess. Our teachers revere the awe and wonder which powers curiosity, motivating the play and experimentation that enables the development of deep, life-long learning.

The IB Primary Years Programme supports our approach. For our youngest school learners we can ensure that each unit of inquiry fosters learning through imaginative play and exploration of the natural world, while also building a sound understanding of each child’s place in a their small community of learners.  At every stage of the children’s learning we aim to ensure they have increasing confidence in their own capacity to learn. They understand their particular strengths and know that their areas of passion are respected; they are encouraged to ask questions as evidence of their progress, not as an admission of ignorance to be hidden or denied.

Soon after the start of Term Three we will welcome the IB Accreditation team to Arlington. Our teachers, led by Natalie Jensen, our own IB Educator, and Cressida Batterham-Wilson, our PYP Coordinator, will have the opportunity to demonstrate how Preshil has used the PYP framework to enrich, frame and articulate the approach to learning that Preshil has promoted since its beginning.  I am looking forward to the conversations the IB team will have with our children, who can talk confidently and enthusiastically about their learning. We are confident that the whole environment of Arlington, designed specifically for young children, serves to enrich and foster authentic, collaborative education.

The IB Primary Years Programme offers a seamless transition from Arlington to Blackhall Kalimna.  Preshil is one of only a small number of schools able to offer the IB Middle Years Programme which forms the IB continuum, culminating in the Diploma Programme.  Each IB programme is uniquely designed and suited to the age of the students at their particular stage of learning.

The elements at Arlington that prepare students for their transition to Blackhall Kalimna are fundamental to the Preshil culture:

  • Trust between children and their teachers
  • Essential agreements as the basis for establishing respectful behaviour
  • Confidence in working individually and collaboratively
  • Embracing contemporary issues with a strong future focus
  • Integration of learning within and beyond school – home, careers, globalisation, opportunities to engage with the natural environment
  • Joining in genuine philosophical thinking and reasoning from the earliest years.

Above all else that underpins this continuum is the common set of values, developed in all three IB programmes (PYP, MYP, DP) that transcend international boundaries and help develop internationally minded people.  IB learners strive to become inquirers, knowledgeable, thinkers, communicators, principled, open-minded, caring, risk-takers, balanced and reflective.

I see the impact of the IB at Preshil every day in the genuine excitement and exhilaration of staff, apparent in the energy, the conversations and the willingness to try new ideas, to see challenge as adventure.  It is a supportive framework for what we have always aspired to do at Preshil; pushing boundaries and trying something new,  rather than squeezing into a restrictive mould of one size fits all.

– Marilyn Smith, Principal

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