Foundation to Year Two
Our foundation to year two students enjoy a broad curriculum that includes academic skill development, inquiry and creativity, language and movement and social and emotional learning.
Maths and English are taught for approximately fifteen hours each week. Maths is very ‘hands-on’ so that children can visualise and justify their answers to number problems. We use a combination of mathematics interviews and computer based testing to understand exactly what students know, and what they need to learn next.
English is broken into three parts – writing, reading and speaking and listening. . Writing is taught using the highly effective VCOP program; the students are taught how to expand their vocabulary on different topics, how to use punctuation, how to avoid writers block by having a clear opener and how to connect their ideas effectively in a text. We teach reading through individual and group reading activities, and speaking and listening is taught throughout the week as students share their learning and give one another feedback.
Foundation to year two students enjoy ‘Investigations’ time at least twice each week – working individually and in groups to plan a construction, story or performance that they can share with peers when it is their turn to be the ‘focus student’. Investigations is a very popular part of our teaching and learning and allows the teacher time to work closely with students to improve a wide range of skills.
Foundation to year two students go to the library each week and borrow a book. They also have specialist instruction in Indonesian, Physical Education, Art and Kitchen Garden. Finally, they work through our School Wide Positive Behaviour and Support matrix and Respectful Relationships curriculum to develop some powerful social, emotional, collaboration and problem solving skills.
Years Three to Six
Our learning program changes in years three to six and we support students to expand their skills and go deeper into their learning.
In mathematics, the teachers use pre- and post-tests to identify where students are at with their learning and plan a program that will support each student to progress to the next level. Teachers and students use ‘proficiency scales’ to set learning goals and evaluate success.
In English, the students are developing their independent reading skills. We read whole class novels and students participate in ‘guided reading’ activities. VCOP is also used to teach writing at this level and students increasingly assess their own work to identify how they can ‘up level’ their writing.
Students in years three to six complete education research projects each term – exhibiting them to the whole class and broader school community. There is a theme for the research each term – ensuring there is learning in areas like science, history and citizenship.
Years three to six students also have specialist instruction in Indonesian, Physical Education, Art and Kitchen Garden. They work through our School Wide Positive Behaviour and Support (SWPBS) matrix and Respectful Relationships curriculum to develop some powerful social, emotional, collaboration and problem solving skills.
In 2017 we were selected to be a Lead School for the Respectful Relationships program and during term three of that year we started our teaching around Respectful Relationships. As a ‘Lead School’, we have benefitted from some extra resources and training from the Education Department to get things started and have also helped our partner schools in the Latrobe Valley to make a start on the program.
The program has two clear goals – firstly to support children to know how to develop positive, respectful relationships and to better understand their own emotions and strengths. The second goal is a long-term one; we want to see a dramatic reduction in the incidents of family violence in our community over the next few decades. The research confirms what many of us would regard as common sense – if we teach children to respect one another when they are young, they will know how to respect others more when they are adults.
There are many ways we can disrespect one another – gender is one of them. Boys, girls, men and women are categories that don’t really need to define what we do with our lives or how we relate to one another. Evidence of this includes the great achievements in recent years in women’s sport and a huge increase in the number of ‘stay at home’ dads in our community; people know that their sex doesn’t need to prevent them from making particular life choices.
However, fixed views and stereotypes about men, women, boys and girls still dominate in some areas of society. The problem with these stereotypes is that they can limit choices and legitimise harmful or disrespectful attitudes towards women. The research tells us that while family violence might occur at times of financial stress or when perpetrators are using substances, it is the attitude that women and girls are less important than men that causes the violence. There are plenty of people who are stressed or who drink alcohol without choosing to use violence. We want our students to know how to respect each other and manage stresses without causing someone else harm.
The Respectful Relationships curriculum will support our boys and girls to understand that there should be no limits on what they can achieve in their lives and that it is not right to harm or try to limit the aspirations of anyone else – especially the people we claim to love. The curriculum includes some role plays, games and book reviews. While it is early days, staff at our school are proud of the way the students are thinking about how they can better understand their emotions and draw on their strengths when they are stressed.
Men can be victims of family violence, but the very large majority of victims are women. Men are far more likely to be victims of violence perpetrated by other men – usually in a public place. Again, this violence can be motivated by stereotypes about what a supposedly ‘successful’ male does when he is threatened. At Newborough Primary School, we teach all students that violence is never appropriate and that and adult should be found if someone is causing harm or threatening violence.
A final comment about family violence relevant to schools is that in most cases of family violence, children are either witnesses or victims. We know that trauma can significantly harm children’s learning and cognitive function. For this reason, it is enormously important that we work towards a future where it does not occur.
If you or anyone else you know is experiencing family violence, the Education Department recommends contacting the following free services:
SAFE STEPS Family Violence Response Centre 1800015188
Men’s Referral Service 1300766491
Our School is a Resource Smart School and we work hard to ensure our waste is minimised and our gardens and grounds can be both productive and attractive.
Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program
Newborough primary School was the first school in the Latrobe Valley to commence teaching the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen garden program in 2013. Now in it’s fifth year, the program has wide ranging benefits for the students – academic, health and social.
The program itself is quite simple. Students are briefed at the start of each term and session about both the learning goals and the available resources. For example, a successful potato crop or some donated olives might mean that the students will need to work towards producing some recipes that will ensure these resources don’t go to waste. Similarly, some donated time or equipment for the garden will shift the focus to the garden where students will work to achieve a successful harvest.
Over the course of the year the students will undertake safety training; there is always a big celebration when the students receive their wheelbarrow and knife licenses. They also welcome in many guests and volunteers and practice a wide range of academic skills relating to health, science, measurement and instructional texts, in particular.
To celebrate the work that the students do in Kitchen Garden classes, we also host an annual ‘Harvest Festival’ in May. This festival is designed to both highlight the student learning and to raise funds for a particular project. In 2017 the funds were diverted to renovating some of our ‘classic’ garden furniture and building a few new features for our students and families to enjoy.
We are lucky to be a part of the Western Valley District and Latrobe Valley Division of School Sport Victoria. This means that after our annual swimming carnival and athletics meet, our students can progress to the next level of competition. They have the same opportunities in a wide range of other events including basketball, netball, soccer, AFL, cross country running and volleyball.
Over the last few years our basketball and netball teams have been particularly successful – progressing all the way to the Gippsland Regional competitions and coming ‘runners-up’ on three occasions. They all came back very proud of their performance and happy to report that they ‘had a lot of fun’.