Groupings are designed to cater for different learning experiences that happen on any one day. We maintain a sense of flow from one group structure to the next as we balance the social advantages of mixed age classes with the academic goals for each student.
Students start their day in small mixed-aged “mentor groups”, where students aged 4 to 12 work together in a small family-like structure supported by one teacher. They are placed together based on a variety of factors such as strengths, passions, shared interests and common learning preferences. This space gives all students an opportunity to be leaders, develop empathy and really be part of a small group that cares, learns and shares together each day.
Smaller groupings occur for literacy and numeracy activities and are based on each student’s stage of development and mastery level, rather than their age. We make sure that groups are small enough for each student to receive individual attention from the teacher and groups are fluid, to allow for different rates of learning progression. Broader developmental groups are in place for music, art, fitness and the much loved “explorations” time.
For our younger learners, play is at the centre of how they develop. Our Kindergarten and Prep program encourages children to build and test relationships and to resolve conflicts through play. Our early childhood teacher incorporates children’s ideas and interests into their learning experiences and children’s curiosity for science, maths, art, building, and literature are supported and extended through play during explorations times. Though there are moments in the day where our youngest students gather in their small group, much of their day is also shared and in collaboration with older students.
Children in our Kindergarten and Prep program are empowered to make decisions and regulate their own behaviour. Children have time for free play and time to pursue their individual interests. They are encouraged to learn by observing, questioning, discussing, wondering and making. The number of children in this group is deliberately small.
Mixed Age Classes – Grades 1-6
Literacy and numeracy are highly valued, key parts of our curriculum. Many of our children excel in these areas. Others have learning challenges that make every step a struggle. Because we know that every child has unique strengths, we take the time to find and foster the strength in each and every child. Our mixed age groupings relieve the pressure for children to perform at a specific level of ability and honour where they are, irrespective of age.
Our mixed age groupings also broaden relationships between students and create a family atmosphere. They provide opportunities for students to help one another in social and academic areas.
Through physical and academic challenges, our goal is to develop enthusiastic, compassionate and creative learners. Our teaching team monitor student development in self-direction, academic, physical and social-emotional areas.
Like our younger students, our older learners have plenty of time to challenge and work with their developmental and academic peers but many other moments of their day focus on community relationships, leadership within the student body and developing kindness and empathy towards others who might need our support most.
High School Grades 6 – 10
Similar to the primary program, our high school program provides learning across the breadth of the curriculum, with a strengths-based, mastery focus. Every day, Mentor Teachers support children to set, amend and achieve individual learning goals, with all teachers tracking student progress across progressions of mastery learning. We also support students to reflect on their learning feedback to challenge themselves to take safe risks, whether that be within an area of strength, or to try activities or units of study they are not sure they’d like.
Alongside literacy and numeracy classes, teachers lead cross-curricular units of study designed by the interests and wonderings of current students, with each student choosing the unit they would like to pursue each half term. Units are offered in an intensive block style, timetabled 4 days per week over a five-week period. Unit themes designed in collaboration with students in the first half of 2022 include: propaganda; animal care and management; instructional art; photography; self-directed workshop projects (wood and metal work); fake news; mad, bad and dangerous women in literature; studies in the bush; chemistry and the philosophy of science; business, entrepreneurism and social enterprise; sustainable cooking; “maths-ketball”; junk jewellery; high-school band; tattoos around the world; beginner music; ancient Greek philosophy; wonder science; fashion, gender and the passing of time… with more units to come as the year progresses!
A session is also available each day where students can choose their own area of individual pursuit through a self-directed project or curriculum area of study, supported by a Mentor Teacher. Students also have the option to join a teacher for a “space-based” activity, based within the: science lab, visual art studio, media arts lab, commercial kitchen, social sciences inquiry space, design and tech workshop, the oval, music hall… with spaces ever ever-evolving and learning activities that are always guided by student interest and teacher passion and skill.
Outdoor education and interest-based camps are co-designed, with students typically attending two camps per year within the senior program to support personal development and connection with others across our community. Camps favoured by students include the Ben Lomond snow camp, Derby mountain-biking camp; surfing camp; Bruny Island camp; and hiking camp. Newer student-led camps in 2021 included the East Coast road trip and gourmet food camp and opportunities are always available for students to co-design camps based on interests and adventure.
Our strengths-based approach is underpinned by self-determination theory, which posits that humans are intrinsically motivated to grow and improve when three basic psychological needs are met: competence, autonomy and relatedness. Our goal is for all students to feel good about who they are, what they know and want to know, to have the volition to choose the direction and mastery level of their academic and personal pursuits, and to pursue their goals with the support and guidance of staff, families and peers within our connected Peregrine community.