The work we do with our students is central to every decision made schoolwide.
We work closely with our students to build a community of learners that feel empowered to work with their teacher’s to achieve success in their learning journey, wherever that may be on the continuum of learning.
The vision for learning at WPS recognises the fundamental importance of empowering students and the contribution that student voice, agency and leadership make to improved student outcomes, health and wellbeing. We believe that our students need to be empowered to take ownership of their learning and work in partnership with their teachers to make purposeful contributions to their learning environments, and to tackle issues arising in the world around them.
We know our world is changing rapidly. We see change in contemporary communications and transportation, in new ways we access and create information, and in emerging enterprises that place consistent emphasis on new capabilities like critical and creative thinking and problem solving. We also know climate change, new technologies, and a new geopolitical landscape, make our future hard to predict and open to great possibility. Navigating such rapid change requires resilience, adaptability, and perseverance for our future adults.
Starting with the Victorian Curriculum F-10, we recognise the need for ‘learning for life’ and the need for students to develop the ‘Capabilities’ – Critical and Creative Thinking, Ethical, Intercultural, Personal and Social. These cross disciplinary capabilities empower students to become independent learners and problem solvers. It is these skills that are developed, practised, and demonstrated when students have the opportunity to exercise voice, agency and leadership in designing, developing and assessing their own learning.
Empowering students is intentionally positioned at the heart of our WPS Instructional Modell. Student empowerment does not impose an additional responsibility on teachers. The Warrandyte Primary School Instructional model is used in the daily classroom as a strategy for reaching the ultimate goal of equipping students with the knowledge and skills to make them effective lifelong learners.
“To gradually release responsibility is to equip students with what they need to be engaged and self-directed learners” (Fisher and Frey, 2013). Our student’s lessons come to life through authentic discussions in the classroom about what students learn, how they learn, how learning will be assessed and how the school can contribute to their school community and the global world.
Teacher’s planning and assessment cycles and Professional Learning Communities
Professional learning community (PLC) schools start from a simple idea: students learn more when their teachers work together. Building a PLC is a proven way for schools to increase student learning by creating a culture that is:
- focussed on continuous improvement by linking the learning needs of students with the professional learning and practice of teachers
- committed to professionalism
- fuelled by collaborative expertise.
Professional learning communities (PLCs) are an approach to school improvement where groups of teachers work collaboratively at the school level to improve student outcomes. Warrandyte Primary School has several Professional Learning Communities operating, each meeting fortnightly.
WPS follows the 10 principles that bring together the best available research on school improvement:
- Student learning focus: School improvement starts with an unwavering focus on student learning.
- Collective responsibility: For every child to achieve, every adult must take responsibility for their learning.
- Instructional leadership: Effective school leaders focus on teaching and learning.
- Collective efficacy: Teachers make better instructional decisions together.
- Adult learning: Teachers learn best with others, on the job.
- Privileged time: Effective schools provide time and forums for teacher conversations about student learning.
- Continuous improvement: Effective teams improve through recurring cycles of diagnosing student learning needs, and planning, implementing and evaluating teaching responses to them.
- Evidence driven: Effective professional learning and practice are evidence-based and data-driven.
- System focus: The most effective school leaders contribute to the success of other schools.
- Integrated regional support: Schools in improving systems are supported by teams of experts who know the communities they work in.
Assessment at Warrandyte Primary School
WPS only engages in assessment that will provide information and feedback for both the teacher and the student to determine their individual learning goals and capability needs as they work through the Victorian Curriculum continuum on learning.
There are two forms of assessment used at Warrandyte Primary school.
The purpose of formative assessment is to provide feedback for learning. Formative assessment is the informal process of checking for understanding during instruction. This type of assessment tells teachers whether students are keeping up with the lesson or if they’ll need to reteach any concepts to ensure student success. At WPS we know that checking student progress is an essential part of any well-planned lesson.
Formative assessment examples include:
Teacher observation during independent learning time.
Teacher observations during class discussions of skills and strategies
Exit Slips at the end of lessons
Journal entries in workbooks
Students works in readers and Writer’s notebooks during independent worktime
Turn and Talk responses
Peer assessment and self-assessments
Questioning during whole class time
Think pair share
Surveys (custom made to quickly determine students understanding)
Quick check-in during and after lessons
This is diagnostic testing and is often used to determine a student’s position on the Victorian Curriculum. These types of assessments are usually used for reporting purposes, however at WPS, we use this data to also dig deeper into each class, cohort and individual needs, providing us with opportunities to adapt our teaching and learning program where the data reflects the need.
Examples of summative assessment at WPS include
PAT Reading and Mathematics (this is an adaptive test that will automatically steer students test towards their individual level of understanding based on an algorithm of right or incorrect responses as they progress though the test.).
Essential Assessment in Reading and Viewing, all Numeracy bands.
PM Benchmarking (early years literacy assessment tool to determine comprehension and fluency of reading).
WPS recently audited their assessment practices and created and Assessment Schedule that is relevant. That is, at WPS we only conduct assessment that is purposeful and provides feedback for students and teachers that will support their learning. We also often conduct Pre assessments at the beginning of topics to assist the teacher to determine the best starting point for the class and which scaffolds and supports will be needed to ensure differentiation. Students individual learning goals form the basis of the work students do in their classroom. Each child has been given goals related to Literacy, Numeracy as well as Social and Emotional learning goals. As they achieve their goals, they confer with their teacher to co-construct new goals.
Literacy is a foundation for learning and success throughout life. In today’s global environment, students engage in a wide range of literacy practices both within and outside school. Literacy is the ability to read and write, speak and listen and view and design in a way that allows us to communicate effectively.
At Warrandyte Primary School, we believe in order to develop accomplished readers and writers, students must not only develop their skills through explicit teaching and guided practice, but also gain the ability to apply literacy skills to effectively make links and interpretations of the wider world in which they live.
Through the implementation of a Whole School Literacy Program, students are immersed in the learning of phonograms -sounds and blends of sounds, encouraged to explore their talents as an author with one on one teaching conferences, and asked to engage with the meaning of the texts they investigate. The passions and enjoyment of our students as readers through our Big 6 reading program and in our Writer’s Workshops, is pivotal in the creation of learning experiences and becoming lifelong learners.
More than ever, children today encounter complex technologies and academic demands for which high levels of numeracy are essential. Through real life tasks, hand on investigations, explicit teaching and problem solving experiences, students build their numeracy skills.
In addition to referring to the Victorian Curriculum, Warrandyte Primary School uses the ‘Developmental Stages of Mathematics’ by George Booker to assist the development of a student’s depth and breadth of understanding of Mathematics.
Through a Whole School Numeracy Program, mathematics lessons are taught using a consistent lesson structure, that builds on a student’s fluency and mental computational skills; requires them to explore, investigate, reinforce or extend their mathematical understanding through group work or open ended investigations; and encourages a student to reflect upon & articulate their mathematical understanding.
At Warrandyte Primary School we aim to support our students to develop these vital capabilities so they can participate as active members of society.
At Warrandyte Primary School we support an inquiry learning approach, that encourages students to ask key questions, explore and investigate. Our inquiry approach crosses all of the domains of the curriculum and is explicitly taught through the investigation of a key concept each term.
Through the establishment of inquiry learning, our students are encouraged to:
- ask questions, building on prior knowledge and making their own discoveries.
- make connections between ideas, learning domains and experiences.
- develop group building skills as the explore ideas together.
- manage their own time and tools.
- research their wonderings about topics that are of interest to them.
- be critical thinkers in determining the relevance and clarity of information they hear and read.
- communicate their findings through a developing repertoire of styles.
Through the use of inquiry approach, students are preparing the skills they will need to be curious and lifelong learners.
Over several years, Warrandyte Primary School has established a whole-school Science program with the guidance of our specialist on staff trained Science teacher. Through hands on experiments and carefully structured lessons, students are required to explore before they discover. On a weekly basis students participate in the explorations of topics such as: Biological Sciences, Chemical Sciences, Earth and Space, and Physical Sciences. Across their schooling, students build on their understandings of each topic and the world in which they live.
At Warrandyte Primary School the Visual Arts Program develops the intellectual and expressive potential of students through both 2D and 3D experiences. Students explore a variety of visual arts techniques and processes, developing knowledge and skills as they create their work. Children have a dedicated time each week and participate in lessons that connect to other areas of the curriculum and the interests and passions of students.
Music involves students exploring and developing ideas, using music skills, techniques, and processes. They listen to and respond to a variety of music. Through a wide variety of enjoyable activities such as moving, dancing, singing, listening, playing, creating and performing, they develop basic music concepts in rhythm, melody, expression form and style.
All students are involved in a dedicated Physical Education session each week. House Sports provide students the opportunity to participate in swimming, cross country/fun run and athletics whole school events.
Dedicated intensive swimming program Prep – 6, Perceptual Motor Program (PMP) program for Prep – 2, intra-school sport Years 3 -6 and interschool sport Years 5 & 6 provide students with the chance to experience team and individual opportunities in a competitive environment. Local, regional and state competitions are provided in cross-country, swimming, athletics, tennis, basketball, netball, volleyball, teeball, and softball.