Principal's Report Presented At The 2019 AGM
Last year we celebrated 56 years of The Montessori School and 26 years of the IB at our school.
The most significant change in 2018, was the change to school timings and the extension of the mid-year break for the students from two to three weeks. From the feedback we received, we can confidently say that it was very well received by parents, students and staff. Although the staff were required to attend school during the third week of the student break, they used the opportunity for both formal and informal professional development and facilitated collaboration between staff members. Staff found this to be very valuable.
The huge achievement for all Montessori schools during 2018 was the accreditation of the Montessori National Curriculum (MNC) by the School’s Curriculum and Standards Authority (SCSA) for the remaining learning areas of the Arts, Language and Technology. We have been able to achieve the complete implementation of the timeline for these subjects which included teaching, assessment and reporting to parents by the end of First Semester 2018.
Last year the school decided to introduce OLNA as we identified a need for offering this service. OLNA is an acronym for Online Literacy and Numeracy Assessment. This assessment is offered by SCSA to Government School Year 9 students who have not met the minimum requirements of the National Assessement Program for Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN). Although this is not compulsory for our school that offers the IB programme, we believed it would be beneficial for those students who opt out of the IB programme and choose other pathways.
With the SCSA’s requirement to map the MNC to the WA curriculum, we decided to review the existing student work folders, and in keeping with the Montessori philosophy our staff developed a document relevant for each plane of development. This document depicts the mapping between the learning material in the room and the WA Curriculum content descriptors which in turn is mapped to the MNC. This is a valuable resource for staff and students which documents the choices and opportunities for work. This document was originally developed in 2013 and continues to be very much a work in progress with review and amendment.
In the Pre-Primary area of the school the MNC is mapped to the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF).
The WA curriculum pays great attention on the academic achievements of students, while these are of course very important we must not lose sight of what sustains the academic work of students, of those intangible unmeasurable qualities that can be nurtured but not taught.
The habits of work and the love of learning that emerges in an environment where we actively engage the child’s interest, self-discipline, concentration, self-confidence and motivation will enable the child to undertake whatever it is they need to do. In school and into adulthood, Montessori education is about developing good ‘Habits of a lifetime”.
The increase and stability in student numbers last year led to a sound financial foundation for 2018. We thank the Finance Committee of the School Council for granting approval to fund initiatives to improve the school environment and also to facilitate an improved learning experience for our students.
Some of these were the purchase of new furniture for classrooms, and purchase of a laptop for each classroom teacher. Additions and upgrade were made to existing ICT devices for use by part time staff and students.
The purchase of a class set of iPads proved invaluable in enabling us to successfully complete the SRT (School Readiness Test) in preparation for participating in the Online NAPLAN assessments that were planned for 2019
The iPads also helped us deliver the Technologies curriculum that we were mandated to deliver from the first semester of 2018.
Literacy support was extended to Lower Secondary, a full time Teacher Aide was made possible in the Lower Primary building, and budget for a Language Teacher for 2019 were put in place. We were able to significantly increase the Professional Learning Budget for staff. At the end of last year, we were used this increased budget purchase a complete set of Montessori Teaching Resources for use by staff. The school was also able to plan in house professional learning sessions with the help of AISWA consultants who were specialists in their field, such as Language Coordinator, the Curriculum Coordinator, the Digital Technologies Coordinator and the Inclusive Education Consultants. The in-house sessions afforded the double advantages of being able to tailor the sessions to our particular needs, while at the same time keeping our costs low. The list has been included in the Annual Report.
We have in the past relied on the goodwill, and availability for parents and staff to transport our children to sporting and other venues. Last year the School Council provided extra funds for us to hire transport for such outings.
A big thank you for the substantial donation received from a parent. With these funds a large amount of Neinhuis Montessori equipment has been replaced in the Lower Primary classrooms and some new resources purchased for the Pre-Primary classrooms.
Following the last re-registration in 2017, we were advised that we must immediately comply with the staff to student ration of 1:10 for the early childhood– our Pre-Primary. This set us back financially, but we met this requirement and successfully reopened for the new 2018 year meeting the mandated ratio.
We have an excellent reputation for an outstanding Montessori environment. The school has been receiving increasing interest from groups beyond the Pre-Primary age. Recently in the Montessori community we have seen the Montessori Adolescent Programme building momentum. Parents who appreciate the results of Montessori for their children in the younger years are seeking the same respectful child centered environment as they get older.
Lena Streiff Kosok, our lower secondary generalist teacher, successfully enrolled in the training in Montessori Adolescent Programme at the end of 2018 and completed it during the summer break, with a view to enhance our adolescent programme in 2019. Given the small size of our school, the commitment of our staff to expand our adolescent programme is admirable.
The secondary students make strong efforts in a wide range of work, ranging from their own academic endeavors to the organization of varied events. Each student works on the event for the benefit of all. The annual play, last year was The Great Show. This was a joint production of Lower Secondary and Upper Primary classes, with great sets, costumes and the enthusiastic engagement of the students.
It is at this time, the school must also report on NAPLAN.
These results are published in our 2018 Annual Report. The Year 7 results are not published as student numbers are below the reporting threshold. There are small numbers in each test group, so the results may show wide variation but little statistical significance. For example, a single student with significant learning difficulties will make a substantial decrease in the cohort result. Parents are able to see this, and other information, on the MySchool website: www.myschool.edu.au/
Our teachers work closely with our children, observing their work and offering the lessons and opportunities that the child needs to progress their understanding. The NAPLAN results do not tell the teachers more than they already have observed in individual children and are already working to address. However, we are pleased that our students performed to the best of their ability with the vast majority being above the benchmark.
Our school experienced some change in 2018. Zoe Judge and Fiona Angrish took a year’s parental leave with the arrival of their newborns. Renee Batcock and Shanie Do joined us as new Teacher Aides in 2018. In a short while of their joining our school, they were so inspired by the Montessori Method and successfully completed the AMI Montessori Teacher Assistant course. They have become very valuable members of our small and effective team.
Our staff are a team of intelligent and hardworking people. It is a pleasure to work with such a dedicated staff who are strong Montessorians with great energy and commitment to their work. We say a big thank you to them. They have played a huge part in what has made 2018 a predominantly progressive and satisfying year!
We are also fortunate to have committed and energetic parents who have helped the school in so many different ways – with fundraising, with the newssheet, with donations, with work in the grounds and bushland, organising and assisting with school events. Thank you, the school is very grateful for your generous efforts
Thank you to all members of Council for volunteering their time to serve the school community. The school thanks you not only for approving funds to facilitate an improved learning experience for our students, but also being thoughtful and sensitive to the needs of staff.
Thank you to all our staff. It is a privilege to be part of a relationship of trust and collaboration that we share at this school.
Our school is a unique environment, a slow-paced haven of quiet and calm in a busy and frenetic world. Here the children are able to exercise decision-making and choice, restricted only by the rights of others to enjoy the same. Here they are able to build the habits for work — to persist through difficulty, to make an effort, to accept the challenge of the new or different, to communicate and co-operate with others. This is made possible with the positive, honest and warm assistance from the thoughtful adults around them.
Teaching and parenting is of course, a privileged, sacred trust and the closer we work together, the more fruitful it is for our children.