At age six turning seven, children enter Class 1, beginning a wonderful educational journey towards high school.
Children are taught in composite classes, or multi-age classes which create the sense of a small country school. Class 1 and 2, Class 3 and 4, Class 5 and 6, and Class 7 and 8 are each combined.
As children move through the different stages of schooling, teachers remain with their chosen age group thereby specialising in this educational stage.
As they do in playtime, preschool and Kindergarten, children follow a structured schedule or rhythm each day. This allows for periods of deep concentration, artistic expression and physical activity. The balance of these components results in a more productive, less taxing day for students.
The school day is divided into three parts: Main Lesson, Middle Lesson and Afternoon Lesson.
The Main Lesson has an academic focus and is taught during the first two hours of each day. It encompasses Maths, English, History, Geography, Science and Humanities. Each area is studied in-depth over a three to four-week period.
The Middle Lesson focuses on Music, Language, Art and Craft, and Drama. Art is integral to the curriculum, enhancing the Main Lesson and nurturing imagination, cognitive development and practical skill building. The Afternoon Lesson is for handwork like sewing, knitting, weaving and woodwork as well as bushwalking or games.
After many months of research and many discussions in 2015 the school decided on a set pattern of composite classes. This was well received by the teachers, by the school council and by parents.
The school has very much the feel of a small country school. the composite nature of the structure enhances this feel. Classes are combined as Class One/two, Class three/Four, Class Five/Six, and Class Seven/Eight.
The curriculum content for each year level is spread over the two years, this means no-one misses out. BOSTES (The Board of Studies Teaching and Educational Standards NSW) sees each two-year period as a stage. All the content of each stage is given over a two-year rhythm. With an A/B year pattern this means all the children are able to enjoy every main lesson for each of the class year levels. If for example a class comes in on a B year, the next year they will have all the lessons of the A year. Children going into Class One from the Kindergarten will for their first year be the junior members of that class grouping. The next year however as Class Two, with the same teacher, they will meet the younger ones coming down from Kindergarten, and for that year be the senior partners in the class.
The main Lesson incorporates the academic focus of an area of study and occurs during the first 2 hours of the day when the student’s mind is most receptive. Each area is studied thematically over a 3-4 week period to allow an in-depth focus whether it be Mathematics, English, History, Geography, the Sciences or Humanities subjects.
Music, in a variety of voice, instrumental and ensemble contexts, is a vital and joyous part of the curriculum for all students and is a very important form of expression. Exercises
to develop the musical ear are practised to provide a solid base for subsequent musical accomplishment. From Class 1 to Class 6 students play the recorder and in Class 3 all students begin to learn violin. Ensembles bring another level to the experience from Class 4 onwards. Singing and choral work and a variety of instruments are experienced throughout the school years.
ART AND CRAFT
Art and craft are integral to the curriculum and complement and enhance the intellectual aspects of the lesson work. Practical art develops multiple skills and abilities and nurtures cognitive, social and personal competencies.
Recitation and drama, wet-on-wet painting, form drawing, beeswax and clay modelling, and handcrafts such as sewing, knitting, weaving, woodwork and carving are all experienced, educating the feelings and calling on skill, judgement, invention, form and style. Handwork develops a connection between the child’s inner world and the outer world bringing balance to the child’s whole being.
“It awakens feelings in the child who is one-sidedly intellectual, stimulates activity in the weak-willed child, and awakens the thinking in the dreamy child. Children who learn to make practical things in an artistic way, for the benefit of others as well as themselves, will be able to form their lives and their relationships in a social and artistic way when they are older, thereby enriching their lives. The training through art in school is not for the purpose of producing artists but in order to educate young people for the art of living, based on disciplined exercise. The type of exercise and the time it is introduced are the important factors. Joy and happiness in living, love for all existence, a power and energy for work, such are among the lifelong results of a right cultivation of the feeling for beauty and art.” Rudolf Steiner
Students study another language in order to both come to grips with the intricacies of language itself and also to be able to understand other cultures. Our students study another language from Kindergarten to Class 8 in a spiralling continuum of songs, verses, stories and games in the early years to the complexity of grammatical structures in the higher classes.
Eurythmy is a dance-like artform, which involves the expression of music and sound through movement, corresponding special movements to particular notes and sounds. Eurythmy enhances coordination, strengthens the ability to listen and reinforces social connections.
CELEBRATION OF SEASONS AND FESTIVALS
Celebration of the rhythms of the seasons and the winter and summer solstices, as well as the traditional Christian festivals of Christmas and Easter, provide an opportunity for the children, parents and friends of the whole school community to come together. As well as being highlights of the child’s year, these deepen their sense of purpose and place in the world connecting humanity to the rhythms of nature and the cosmos.
All students participate in class camps of increasing length as they rise through the classes from 1 to 8. The camps are integral to the curriculum: they are challenging, extending and provide an opportunity for students to be immersed in nature whilst enhancing social and survival skills. Armidale, being located near spectacular gorge country and World heritage areas, also allows opportunities for regular bushwalking day trips.