Posted in School

Going to school

Part of the decision on where to rent a house (and, actually, which ones to visit) was always which primary school is in the neighborhood for our kids to go to. With the house question settled, it was time to visit the local school and take a look.

In our case, we fall into the school district of the Essex Heights Primary School, a school with an ICSEA score of 1131. So we contacted them beforehand to arrange a visit, which could be done on very short notice. And while the principal was not in on the day, one of the teacher coordinators took the time to give us a tour of the premises.

The different houses with their learning spaces are grouped around the central courtyard, with its playing areas, vegetable garden and stables for rabbits.
The different houses with their teaching spaces are grouped around the central courtyard, with its playing areas, vegetable garden and stables for rabbits.

With an influx of money into education a few years ago, the school was able to rebuild their campus to follow a modern approach to teaching. Rather than having individual classrooms, the school life here revolves around teaching spaces, where two or more classes share a common area where they interact with, and learn from, each other. The use of modern technology as part of the curriculum (where appropriate and in conjunction with more traditional methods) was very much in evidence, with laptops being freely available and computer spaces being set up between classrooms.

Traditional teaching materials are being used alongside modern technology.
Traditional teaching materials are being used alongside modern technology.
A view from the computer
A view from the computer “room” into one of the two adjacent classrooms.

We spent a good 30 minutes walking around, looking into classrooms and checking out the new gymnasium. We were allowed to take pictures, but only if they did not have any of the children in them. And we were able to experience the hustle and bustle of a lunch break starting (with all the kids sporting the green and gray colors of their school uniforms).

The new school gym with a wooden floor was added to the school a few years ago.
The new school gym with a wooden floor was added to the school a few years ago.

Overall I was pretty impressed with the facilities and the way the students and teachers interacted with each other. But what I took away most of all was the quiet pride our guide talked about her own school and the achievements they were able to accomplish in the past and were accomplishing on a day-to-day basis. That, more than anything else, convinced me that we had made the right choice in trying to land a house in this school district.

A litter of hamsters was born a few months ago and are being distributed throughout the classes. Caring for them is used as part of the curriculum.
A litter of hamsters was born a few months ago and are being distributed throughout the classes. Caring for them is used as part of the curriculum to teach the students about taking responsibility.

I can only hope that our children will feel the same way once they have settled in and gotten used to the language and life in Oz in general.

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