June 2017

Dear Parents

Our Pre-Primary children have a beautiful tradition of preparing a blanket for the arrival of a new sibling.  There is plenty of reason for those hands to be kept very busy this year!  We welcome to our Montessori community, babies that have already arrived and look forward to many more joining us in the months to come. 


On that note, we request and remind parents to keep the parking bays that are closer to the school gate free for our expectant mothers and parents with babies. We also request and remind parents to be mindful that parking for an extended period of time will cause additional inconvenience to parents who are already doing laps in search of a free parking bay. 


This term we have had many, many parents and visitors observing in the classrooms!  That is just wonderful!  We hope all have enjoyed the visits.  For parents, observations give a wonderful insight into their child’s day at school and allows them to share the experience with their children at home.

Observation of the child is a very important teaching tool for Montessori teachers.  Our teachers in Pre-Primary, Lower Primary, Upper Primary and Lower Secondary have had a Professional Learning refresher session on Observation this term.

Observation is considered to be the cornerstone of the Montessori method.  It is a specialised, accurate, watching and seeing perfected through repeated exercises, and forms a major part of a Montessori teacher’s training.  For a Montessori teacher, observation is a skill that involves training.

The type of observation a Montessori teacher focuses on is the scientific observation.  It is an objective observation.  It doesn’t include judgements, feelings, or opinion, and it is not influenced by emotions or personal prejudices.  The aim is to gather facts and so it requires discipline.   

However, both scientific and unscientific observations are important.  Scientific (Objective) observation gives us factual information, and that is every Montessori teacher’s goal; while Unscientific (subjective) tells us about ourselves, and helps us to see how our judgements and feelings come in the way of our Observation.

Parent Survey and ISCA Research :

We thank parents for taking the time to send in their responses to the parent survey.  We appreciate the effort parents have made to provide some thoughtful comments and suggestions. While we are in the process of collating and analysing the responses, we are very happy to know that the results show that 97% of the parent community would recommend our school to others.

This is very encouraging to us as a small independent school.  According to the 2017 Research Report from ISCA, we are informed that parents use word of mouth from friends or other parents as the most influential information source.  ISCA (Independent Schools Council of Australia) is the national peak body representing the independent schooling sector.  Its role is to bring the unique needs of independent schools to the attention of the Australian Government and to represent the sector on national issues.

While, we will have our school survey results ready for parents in Term 3, we have attached an extract from the ISCA Research Report on the factors that influence parents’ choice of an independent school.   ISCA REPORT_001.pdf

Parents Night:

We look forward to parents joining us on Tuesday, 20th June 2017 to a whole school presentation on Math.  Teachers from each area of the school will display the material and equipment relating to Math.  They will also make a short presentation on the material and lessons given in this area.

We welcome you to this very interesting evening!

Yours sincerely

Mary Anne D’Souza

April 2017

A warm welcome back to all!  We extend a special welcome to our two new families and five new children!

We also welcome five new chickens to our school!

Term two always brings an awareness of our compliance obligations.  In week 3 we commence NAPLAN assessments and the IB Mock exams.  The midterm reports for each student will be completed by the end of this term.  Parent-teacher meetings play a vital role in a child’s development.  We strongly encourage parents to book an observation in the classroom prior to these meetings. Parents and teachers see different aspects of a child’s personality.  Observations provide a better understanding of the feedback parents receive from the teacher regarding the ability and behaviour of their child.

We are very pleased to inform you that the School Curriculum and Standards Authority Board has approved:

  • Recognition of the Montessori National Curriculum as an Alternative Curriculum  for English, Health and Physical Education, Humanities and Social Sciences, Mathematics and Science until 31 December 2021.
  • Alternative Reporting Recognition until 31 December 2021 on the basis that full implementation of reporting student achievement to parents will be in place by the timelines specified.

All Pre-primary and Lower-primary staff will be engaged in professional learning on some Tuesdays and every Thursday of this term.  These sessions will commence at 3.15pm. We request parents to be mindful of this and help staff by picking up their children promptly on these days.   Our staff will also be undergoing an all-day First Aid Course on Saturday 6th May at the school.

There will be a parent, staff and student survey being done this term.  We would appreciate if parents take the time to complete the parent survey.  Parent feedback is extremely important to us and will greatly contribute towards future school planning.  The survey is designed to be completed in less than 15 minutes.  This is an anonymous survey and we assure parents that all responses will be kept completely confidential.

 The survey will remain open for responses until Friday, 26th May 2017.  Parents will be informed of results later in the year.

We close with a reminder from Alison for parents who have children ready to enrol for 2018, to please contact the office at the earliest.

March 2017

The recent Parents Night was very well attended. We appreciate the interest shown by the parents who took time out of their busy schedules to participate and make this a meaningful event.  The evening also provided a welcome opportunity for effective and lively discussions between staff and parents as well as amongst parents themselves.   While there are common concerns among parents, the ways individual families address these concerns can vary quite significantly!   But, ultimately as we found, the activity a child performs, is not the primary driver of normal development, rather the interest with which the child engages in the activity, has been found to be the significant contributor to development.  And, interest is more likely to be generated when the activity is not imposed on the child!

Normalisation is a familiar term used within a Montessori environment.   One of Dr Maria Montessori’s famous quote is  ‘The greatest sign of success for a teacher is when the teacher is able to say “The children are now working as if I did not exist”’. 

It is every Montessori teacher’s goal to create a normalised classroom.   Normalisation comes about through deep concentration on the activity associated with a piece of work.   Our job, as parents and teachers, is to provide this environment for motivation.  We must offer the activities that suit the child’s interest - an interest that productively engages the child’s complete personality! The only way to provide these activities is through very careful and sustained observation of the child!

I, now have the opportunity to observe in the classrooms and this is a great privilege.  It is truly a therapeutic experience!  It restores the feeling of calmness that often gets lost in the ‘busy’ness of the day!   It is a joy to see children who are independent, self disciplined, concentrating and working without the teacher’s guidance. 

In Lower Secondary, there is excitement of course - but also a great sense of satisfaction with the completion of the chicken coop, built by the students as part of their Occupations Curriculum and Poultry project!  Thanks to the generosity of a parent, the students now have some chickens, which are being cared for very tenderly till they are ready to enter the coop!  

The students are also eagerly looking forward to their next networking session with the Lower Secondary students of Beehive Montessori School.  In September 2016, six of our students were invited to join their counterparts at Beehive Montessori for a community day, which included some work in their garden followed by lunch.  Our students have returned the invitation and are looking forward to their visit next term.  We anticipate there will be plenty of ‘cheeping’!

The IB students are organising the Harmony Day event on Friday 24th March. We anticipate that children (and parents) will take up the invitation to dress up in traditional attire on the day. This event is a great opportunity for the IB students to showcase their organisational skills.  They accomplish this with a confidence built up through extensive experience in decision making and self management.  Our sincere thanks go out to all parents who have volunteered to help make this event more meaningful for all our students, and your support to the IB students. 

Another highlight this term is the Twilight Joondalup Lantern Parade. We are extremely grateful for the generous support of the City of Joondalup, who have provided us with all the materials as well as an artist to help build and decorate the lanterns!  It always is an enjoyable experience for the children.  The lanterns look beautiful and special, as  do our children in their very special ‘blue T-shirts”!   We hope many children will join in the parade. If parents have any concerns, they are requested to please discuss these with their child’s class teacher.

Over the years, the Education Department’s accountability and compliance requirements have increased significantly. The additional workload due to this has significantly stretched the resources of  administrative staff, particularly in small schools like ours. 

The WA School Education Act 1999 sets out many of the requirements and obligations related to student attendance.  In particular it requires that a student must attend school for every day that it is open for instruction.  It is also a mandatory requirement of the Education Department that all absences and late arrivals  are duly recorded, along with the reasons.  We remind parents to follow the policy and procedural requirements set by the school for school attendance.

We also must remind parents that school timings are from 9.00am to 3.00pm for all except the IB students. Staff provide supervision for students arriving before school between 8.45am and 9.00am.and after school from 3.00pm to 3.15pm.  Although staff are on the premises outside of these times, they are expected to attend meetings and other non-teaching duties and are unable to provide duty of care for students.  Staff will provide a suitable area in the classroom for children who accompany parents to meetings outside school hours.

There have been a number of occasions this term when parents have been requested to volunteer with classroom events and tasks.  Our staff sincerely appreciates the time parents give so freely.  The extra help provided also with transport and supervision while on excursions makes it possible for the school to avail of such programmes that students can benefit from.

On behalf of all our staff and students, I thank you for your invaluable support!

February 2017

We have had an excellent start to the school year!

The Primary and Pre-Primary orientations were well attended.  It was a wonderful opportunity for parents to meet the teachers, familiarise themselves with the classroom and school surroundings and be introduced to the routines of the classroom.  Term one is when we experience most change but the fundamental Montessori principles of Respect, Freedom and Consistency for the child remain our primary focus.  The consistency of an orderly environment combined with sequence of steps involved in the activities, enables the child to develop a sense of security.  A big thankyou to all our staff for their care and support for the wellbeing of students during this transition.

I would like to thank all the parents who have contacted the school and teachers, commending the Material Display scheduled on 9th February!  The display was prepared with a lot thought and effort from our teachers, to ensure it was relevant and helpful for parents.  We are very glad to know from you that this goal was achieved.

We now invite and look forward to parents joining us at 7.00pm tonight, 21st February, when teachers will present short talks on “Motivation” and how it is approached in their Montessori environment.

Every Montessori parent will be familiar with the phrase “Help me to do it myself”  Maria Montessori said, "Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.  "Our teachers have studied the planes of development.  They understand the stages of growth and prepare the environment to foster that plane of development.  They provide the students that space to be independent and the tools that allow them to do so successfully. 

It is apparent from our students who continue into the Secondary school that they have realised the importance of self-motivation and are prepared to help themselves to achieve a set goal, their Thailand trip being one of them.  Tonight at 6.30pm, we will be meeting parents of the Secondary students who will be leaving for Thailand this year.  The session organised by Lena Streiff-Kosok promises to be a very valuable information \session, and an opportunity to discuss your concerns and seek clarifications with the staff present.

We request all parents to support the school’s parking policy and be respectful and considerate to the needs of others by dropping off and picking up children efficiently.  Please be mindful that parking for an extended period of time will cause additional inconvenience to parents who are already doing laps of the parking area in search of a free parking bay.  A copy of the school’s parking policy is available from the school office on request.

We have received a letter from the City of Joondalup informing the school that the City will shortly be introducing a service initiative to address unsafe parking near schools.  As part of the initiative, Officers will be using patrol vehicles, which have been fitted with Licence Plate Recognition (LPR) cameras, to capture digital images of vehicles which are parked contrary to parking requirements near schools.  Any infringement notices, issued as part of these patrols, will be sent via mail to the registered owner of the vehicle.

We welcomed many visitors to our Open Day yesterday, and we extend a big thankyou to our parent volunteers who helped with the event. We must also say thank you to all our parents who volunteer in many other ways, as well as our Council members for the number of hours they put, in attending meetings as well as professional development sessions.

We thank you all for sharing this common goal of providing a positive learning environment for our children.

November 2016

The Lower Secondary students hosted a very enjoyable and successful Quiz Night on Friday 18th November. As always, they designed and sold tickets, provided catering, child-care, set up, cleaned and packed before and after the event. They succeeded in their goal of raising funds for their Thailand trip as well as providing an evening of great fun for all who attended. It is exercises like these that help develop skills that are extremely beneficial to them even beyond their school days. We acknowledge the support of students, parents, friends, staff and their donations in cash and kind. It is with these combined efforts that the Quiz Night is able to run smoothly and be a success. Our Congratulation to all the students !

We have also been very impressed with the way our Year 12 IB students have approached their final exams. Together with the valuable advice to students to adopt a consistent, organised approach to study, teachers have also been helping them with strategies to relax and keep their stress levels under control. We have noticed an air of calmness in the students when approaching their exams each day. The Graduation Evening will be held on Friday 9th December. We bid farewell to these students but watch with pride as they embark, as confident young adults, on the next phase of their journey in life! We have planned the event a little differently to the previous years and hope to see more parents and students attend.

Each term brings with it a busy calendar, special events and excitement. So it was with this term! We had introduced some events for the first time this year. Our picnic with parents turned out to be a big success! For a song that claims to date back to the 17th century, the Hokey-Pokey still evokes great fun and proves to be the perfect bonding exercise for everybody. Congratulations to the Upper Primary students who were involved in decision making and planning for the games. Our thanks go out to all the students who provided assistance and care for children who needed it on the day! We also wish to thank all the parents who attended, helped and participated! We look forward to this being the beginning of many more such events in the future!

Another first is the recording of songs that are unique to this school and which also date back to the time of Mrs Duyker and Judith Lynn-Robinson. This has been an idea of Jane’s for many years. With her tremendous efforts, we are so excited to see this idea coming to fruition now. The Wednesday singing sessions with Heather Mac William are being recorded by Dave Wheeler. Jane is also in the process of acquiring the Audio Manufacture License through APRA AMCOS. We hope to launch this CD on the Graduation Night! We would like to extend a huge “thank you” to Jane Heather and Dave for this very exciting and unique venture.

Our thanks also go out to the Bush Committee along with parent volunteers for all the work they have done, and continue to do, to provide us with a safe and secure environment. We never tire from hearing visitors’ appreciative comments on our beautiful buildings, surrounded by nature playgrounds and natural bushland. We greatly appreciate the effort that goes into keeping our bushland a safe and enjoyable place for our children to enjoy and learn from.

Yet again, we extend our sincere gratitude to Ray Coffey, senior Council Member, who has been renovating the Apparatus and Art Rooms, with the goal of getting them ready by the end of this year. This project has proved to be more complicated than anticipated. After the demolition of the Art Room, new issues came to light that needed to be addressed before the new building could commence. Ray’s keen eye for detail and high quality workmanship are very much in evidence throughout the renovations! We greatly appreciate his significant contribution of time and effort to the betterment of the school premises!

We were very shocked and disappointed to receive sudden news from Nicole Poppas of Angelicare of the closure of the OSHC with immediate effect. This put parents in significant difficulty and caused a lot of inconvenience. While this proved to be an extremely difficult time for all concerned, we have witnessed the great support of our parent community for each other, the children and the school. We would like to thank parents who have given their time and energy so freely and abundantly in helping to pick and drop children to and from school as well as for providing the before and after school care for the children. Our special thanks also go out to Angela Chew who has been exploring various avenues for the re-commencement of this service in 2017.

This year has been an extremely busy one and, while it has not yet ended, we would like to thank all our staff for their dedication and hard work with the children. We have had our final meeting on whole school performance and improvement and teachers are also busy the end of year reports and meetings.

We have received a request for further information from SCSA, in regard to our application for approval of alternative reporting. The Co-Principals met with Ron Gorman of AISWA and took along all our reporting documents to discuss this further. He reviewed the documents and has endorsed our reporting methodology as thorough, detailed and explicit. He liaised directly with SCSA on our behalf and the appropriate information has now been sent. We anticipate a favourable reply before the end of the year.

We have had to implement some staff changes for next year. We have employed Rebecca Cannon as the Math and Science teacher in the Lower Secondary. Fiona Corner will now concentrate full -time on the Upper Primary. Marta Costa will be employed as a Lower Primary teacher, working tandem with Salwa Guirgis and Ray Terry-Short as well as providing assistance to Upper Primary.

October 2016

 We have had a lovely start to the new term, with new families joining the school, and some warmer weather. We are hoping that the warmer weather will continue into next week when the re-scheduled whole-school picnic is held on 21 October — and that many parents will join us for this inaugural, but annual event. The upper primary students have volunteered to assist with some games that we can all play before everyone has a picnic lunch in the park. The last two picnics have been great, very enjoyable events for the whole school, and we are keen for parents to see how our students and staff enjoy themselves together.

The staff have been busy over the holidays, readying for the new term. Three staff members spent one morning of the holidays moving all the pre-primary furniture from the primary building back to the pre-primary classrooms. The furniture — tables, chairs, clothes racks, washing troughs, farm jobs, everything we had been able to get off the floor — had been removed from the pre-primary classrooms and stored in primary building. The rooms were emptied so that maintenance work on the floors could proceed during the holidays.

Although I was not there, I am sure that the staff members did not find the moving of the furniture as exciting and joyful as the pre-primary children. They really enjoy that sort of work and the emptying of the pre-primary classrooms was done very quickly indeed with their help.

Other staff members spent a whole day emptying the apparatus room so that the specialist contractors could begin the work of removing the asbestos sheeting. This was a big job, and although a great deal of sorting and discarding was achieved, there is another big job in returning all the materials to the room when the work to re-clad the rooms has been done.

The asbestos has now been removed from two buildings and work to remove the asbestos from the third site has been timetabled for the December holidays. The re-cladding of the art room and the apparatus room has begun and it is hoped that this will be completed before the end of November.

The first day of Term 4 was a very busy one for staff, heralding the start of a very busy term. We had a long and very serious session on the important topic of the mandatory reporting of child sexual abuse. We are now very familiar with our responsibilities in this area, and aware of the importance of the Protective Behaviours curriculum which our school carefully implements.

We are currently planning a number of events for the end of the year. Next month we will have the Quiz Night, an event totally organised and managed by the lower secondary students — we don’t need to do anything but encourage everyone to attend. This is a really good night out, with lots of fun and some lively mental stimulation! The students are hoping that many parents will attend, as this is a major fund-raising event for them with the funds making a big contribution to the cost of the trip to Thailand.

On 2 December of this year, we are hosting a Sundowner, a wine and cheese get-together for past students to come together with present parents and staff. We are planning to make this Alumni evening a regular event so that parents can talk with past students in a relaxed social gathering. This event will also mark the end of the Co-Principalship and the beginning of the new principalship with MaryAnne.

And finally, we are planning to make the End of Year and IB graduation celebration a livelier event this year, with a candle-lit circle of song and good cheer for our departing students. Again, we are hoping that parents will come along to farewell our departing senior students and to celebrate the end of another interesting year in our very special school.

September 2016

Terry Duyker-de Vries, a founding student and former teacher of the Montessori School, sadly passed away on 7th September 2016.

Terry Robert was an aboriginal boy who was adopted by Frank and Williemein Duyker-de Vries in 1959 when he was just three months old, from the Seventh Day Adventist Mission in Wiluna. It was for the welfare of her precious child that Mrs Duyker started the first Montessori School in Western Australia in 1962 with 8 students in her home. For Mrs Duyker it just had to be an environment immersed in the true Montessori philosophy - ‘ Freedom based on discipline and discipline based on freedom.’

Almost fifty five years on, the numbers have grown, the buildings have changed, but the Montessori philosophy continues to be experienced and recognised by all who enter our school. It is always a pleasure to make our visitors feel welcome by showcasing our beautiful environment to them.

We were host to a delegation of Principals from the Brainy Bunch Islamic Montessori Schools in Malaysia who visited our school on 24th August. They enjoyed the tour of the school, participated in silent observations in the Primary classrooms and shared a morning tea with those staff who were available. They were very appreciative of the time spent with staff in discussion and were extremely impressed by the children, the classrooms and the teaching material. We, in turn, were very impressed by their keen attention to detail while observing and their deep understanding of the Montessori philosophy. We felt extremely proud to hear of their heartfelt admiration of our school and their opinion that our school is a well functioning, pure Montessori school. They were so impressed that they have a keen desire to visit again and have asked whether we would accommodate another visit by them next year.

We wish to acknowledge the wonderful work by the volunteers of the Parent Participation Group who coordinated the very successful SciTech night. We thank them and congratulate them for this wonderful evening. It was exciting to see the children and their families, staff and their families enjoying being a part of our wonderful community!

The Senior Formal River Cruise coincided with the SciTech night. This event was organised by Rockingham Montessori, who extended invitations to the year 11 and 12 students of Treetops Montessori, Perth Montessori and our school. Our staff and students said they enjoyed the evening immensely. The atmosphere was very friendly and the students mingled well. The success of the event has prompted them to make it an annual event.

There has also been networking between the Lower Secondary students of Beehive Montessori and our school. Six of our students were invited to join them for a community day, which included some work in their garden followed by lunch. Plans are in place to invite the Beehive students to our school with a hope that these invites will become a tradition.

Time flies when you are busy and having fun they say! We have been doing both! There have been excursions, bushwalks, lake walks, and morning and afternoon teas with parents. While the events themselves are always very enjoyable and satisfying, the build-up to them are equally so! The children are extremely excited, motivated and enthusiastic about sharing these special events with their parents. We thank all the parents and grandparents for making the time to participate in these events and leaving us with beautiful, enduring memories of the day! The end of term picnic scheduled for the last day of this term is another such event coming up. We have received a number of positive responses from parents and look forward to them joining us.

Our school has always held the strong belief that learning with and through books is important for children. This is why we are always thrilled to experience the curiosity and excitement that books arouse in the children. Book Week always seems to be the ideal time to make full use of the book budget. Teachers have been extremely busy stocking up on new books. The sight of the stacks of new books waiting to be catalogued and also the sight of new books on children’s desks is ever so pleasing. The renowned author, Deepak Chopra is quoted as saying, “Reading gives you the opportunity to pause and reflect.” It gives us great satisfaction to be able to offer our children this experience, which is becoming increasingly rare in today’s environment dominated by visual media.

The teachers have met as a collegiate to review and analyse the recent NAPLAN results and curriculum plans for 2017. The NAPLAN results are very positive. All students scored above the benchmark and the vast majority were well above the benchmark. Nonetheless, we have identified areas for improvement and have come up with strategies to implement these improvements as best we can with the time and resources available. The teachers acknowledged that the school has a low number of students in each year group and hence it is difficult to make meaningful generalisations, as the results of an individual has a significant effect upon the overall performance of the group.

We have reviewed our internal assessment process of the Literacy Net and discussed the trial of the new On-Entry Assessment, for PP, Yr 1 and Y2.. We have attended the information session held at AISWA and have submitted our Expression of Interest for implementing it in 2017. It is important to understand that the On-Entry Assessment cannot and should not be compared to NAPLAN. It is not a testing process. It is a process to evaluate the child’s learning at the beginning of the new school year. There is no Pass, Fail or a minimum standard requirement. The assessment is scheduled to be conducted between weeks 3-6 of Term One only. This assessment is very flexible, and can be repeated for a child based on the teacher’s observation of the mood of the child. It provides the teacher with a snapshot of the child’s development, and forms a basis for building or extending the child’s skills in Literacy and Numeracy. At our school, it will continue to be conducted in the same low key manner as the Literacy Net has been for all these years. Our teachers will be attending the training session conducted by AISWA in 2017.

The National Quality Standard QIP has also been reviewed and prepared for 2016. An audit has subsequently been completed and an action plan with realistic time frames has been developed for areas that were identified as requiring improvement.

As part of the long term solution, it has been decided to demolish and rebuild the Art Room and the Apparatus room. Ray Coffey, our senior Council member, has once again selflessly offered his support and expert skills. He has volunteered his time to rebuild the two rooms during term four of this year. We are truly privileged to be the beneficiary of his generosity and dedication to our school.

August 2016

Past staff and parents of the school often remain connected to our school, retaining those close bonds of amity. Recently we received a donation of books from a past staff member who thought of us when she saw these resources. Another friend of the school, the husband of a past staff member and father of two past students brought us a beautifully desiccated seahorse he had found while walking on the beach. A relative of a current staff member has given us a dear little quenda, killed (but not marked) near her home. And also in this last month, another past staff member has provided Astronomy magazines for the school. Although we are very appreciative of these varied resources, what we value especially is the goodwill and lasting friendships that this thoughtfulness represents.

Those who work here in the school form close attachment to the children and the spirit of the school. It is particularly satisfying to work in an environment where daily experience in the classroom validates the wisdom and strength of the Montessori approach and materials. In a school where there is a high degree of consistency across the age groups, there is a sense of shared purpose and experience between staff. Therefore, there is a high degree of support and assistance for staff and a high degree of collaboration and cooperation. 

This has been most evident this term, when a major relocation of the school was achieved with massive amounts of energy and commitment from staff. Settling into these new environments has coincided with a number of events in the school and our staff members have again given their time and energy generously. When a new last-minute suggestion was made to the planning of one of these events, our very willing and thoughtful staff members were able to incorporate it into the event successfully. This sort of quick thinking and effort is possible when there is a positive and cooperative spirit among intelligent and hard working people. We are very proud of the relationships of trust and collaboration among staff as it means the best experience for our children.

We know that positive relationships with adults are one of the most important aspects of positive learning experience. Our students need the high expectations and strong support, the faith that each child can succeed that our teachers can provide. And they need the focus on their individual well-being and development that a Montessori environment provides.

The pride that staff feel in our school was most visible during recent events at the school when parents and visitors came to learn more about the Montessori approach in the primary and secondary years. Our past students also gave generously of their time and spoke to many parents about their time in the Montessori School. This make for a very rich experience for parents, increasing understanding and knowledge of an approach that is disarmingly simple in some aspects, but also requiring close attention and thought.

Work has begun on the re-alignment and replacement of the path in the park opposite the school, Talbot Park. Many parents will be aware that in 2006 our senior students painted a timeline on the path. We regarded this work, depicting the evolution of life on earth a valuable aesthetic and educational contribution to the local community. This work will be destroyed when the path is removed in preparation for the installation of new paths — one for pedestrians and another for cyclists. We have received provisional approval to replace the timeline on the new pedestrian path and the students are planning to undertake that work with their art teacher, Penny King, in Term 4. We will, of course, have a ceremony to officially ‘open’ the timeline and thank the students for their work.

Talbot Park is named after Talbot Street, which is in turn named after an Australian author, as with many streets in Kingsley. Next year, the school will have its fifty-fifth birthday and we feel it might be time to change the name of the park to Montessori Park, after the name of the street. Montessori Place was named on the occasion of the school’s twentieth birthday. Application to consider a change of name for a park can be made to the City of Joondalup. For a change to be successful, we would need to have the support of the school community and the local residents, most likely in the form of a petition. We will soon be contacting the local member, John Chester to seek his support and assistance with this matter and then we will be hoping to work with the parents on this project. Re-naming the park would enable recognition of the significant part that the Montessori School has played in this community. We are hoping that parents will assist us to show our pride in the Montessori.

July 2016

Monday 11 July, was  proof that the best outcomes are possible when people combine their knowledge and expertise to achieve a common goal.  Yesterday, past and present parent volunteers and staff  helped with the relocation and the preparation of the environments for the new classrooms.   The atmosphere of mutual understanding and shared expectations was evidence that preparing a safe, warm and welcoming learning space for the children was the centre of their focus.   Although it was hard work, it was an extremely rewarding day, with everyone in the best of spirits and sharing some great humour. We are very grateful to have such a dedicated group of staff and volunteers.  We thank each and everyone for their tremendous effort and support to ensure that the rooms are ready and inviting to the students for the start of second semester.

Of course, in preparation for the move, the cleaning, dusting, sorting, packing and stacking was a daunting task that was tackled by the teachers in the last week of Term 2.  Our  children  proved to be a very  valuable resource!  They were filled with energy, enthusiasm, ideas, backup ideas and strategies on how to pack and move the heavy items.  We saw their planning change from building a wall of boxes to building a column of boxes and finally to a stacking a single row of boxes, because this proved to be the safest method of storing the boxes.  In all that movement , we could see their brains engaged in learning!

Some staffing adjustments have been necessary, as Jaromir Kulir has opted to move to a part-time position. We are very fortunate to be able to fill the vacancy internally from our existing excellent teachers and this has enabled continuity in our staffing.  Lena Streiff-Kosok has been appointed the full-time Lower Secondary Teacher, while Faye Peel will be returning to teach Upper Primary with Fiona Corner. 

We have had a mixture of happy occasions and a sad farewell recently. Staff congratulated  Fiona and Louise who both took time off for their respective weddings.  We wish both couples a long and happy married life.  Also, Jennie Kempen has decided to retire after twenty years at our school. We thank her for all her years of service and wish her a wonderful and happy retirement.  Jennie will be dearly missed.

Parents would have received the semester one reports by now.  Our reports are structured to address the Achievement Standards received from the Schools Curriculum and Standard Authority (SCSA).  They are designed to provide a level of consistency across schools, not only in WA but across Australia, since the WA curriculum is mapped to the Australian curriculum  To facilitate the reporting process, the SCSA provide samples of student work pieces for teachers to use as a guide for their reporting.   In our school, we also evaluate student learning by assessing the level of personal independence achieved by the students.  These measures include the level of individual and group work, together with  the teachers’ daily records and observations. 

However, a number of external factors may also influence the ongoing learning process in a child.  There is a strong connection between children’s achievement and their attendance.  Absences can have a significant impact on their performance, as can social and emotional factors.

Parents are strongly encouraged to go through the reports and meet with teachers at any time if there are any specific issues they wish to discuss.

The first half of the year has been busy but extremely constructive.  Staff members have completed a series of workshops this term.  As part of the ongoing Curriculum, student learning and whole school performance review, all teaching staff have met as a collegiate for the second time to review and reflect on teaching practices and student learning.   They also collaborated and presented a very successful Parents Night on the topic of “Reading”. There was very valuable feedback received from parents.  This has helped us in our planning for future Parent Nights.  We are very grateful to parents who offer their suggestions and support in a manner that allow the school to make improvements.  We are certain that achievement comes only through a team effort, and the support of all is fundamental to this goal.

Apart from the changes and work that goes on inside our buildings, there is also a lot of work that goes on throughout the term to ensure our grounds and  our bushland is well maintained.   Thankyou to  the dedicated members and volunteers of the Bushland  Working Committee, who give us their time on weekends to ensure our children and parents can enjoy a walk through this beautiful piece of land.  Melanie Grabowski, Gemma Broderick and Laila Miller members of the group regularly prepare an area in the bushland that children use to plant native seedlings.  They engage children in very interesting lessons on the bushland and nature during this planting process.  Children will now be planting vegetable seedlings with their help in their gardens next term.

And last, but not least, we now have a much needed partition in the primary building – thanks to the wonderful, single-handed efforts of Ray Coffey. Ray’s ongoing selfless dedication to the school is exemplary and is something which we are extremely appreciative of and grateful for!

As we move into another very busy and eventful second semester, we would like to thank the Parent Participation Group for their help and efforts in organising the afternoon tea for the celebration of Mrs Duyker’s birthday and the tour of the new classrooms on 22nd July. 

We look forward to seeing many parents join us on the day! 

June 2016 

Earlier this term, close to the beginning of this very long election campaign, the Association of Independent Schools provided independent schools with information on the major political parties and their positions regarding education policy. The service is provided to keep member schools and their communities informed of major education announcements during the campaign.

It reminds schools of the critical importance of political support. At a time when Australian schools are doing poorly on international rankings, education should be a big issue. But it is not all about funding. Since 2000, when Australia first participated in international education tests, performance in one of them, PISA, (Programme for International Student Assessment) has been steadily declining. For example, in maths, Australia has moved from ranking 6th in 2000 to 19th in 2012. Analysis of data from national testing suggests that decline is occurring in high performing and low performing students.

A recent television program — Revolution School — has been charting improvements in student achievement in a public high school, under the guidance of Professor John Hattie, an educational statistician. Critical to improving student achievement he has found is the interaction with teachers, with their monitoring of student knowledge and responding to individual needs.

While it is good to know that this can occur in any school, of course, it is also gratifying to know that in our school attention to the individual forms the basis of our interactions. And of course, Montessori materials provide students with their own self-monitoring of knowledge.

The Montessori Information Morning held last weekend was an opportunity to present our school to those interested in Montessori education. We are very proud of our school, our work and teachers, and of the past students and Council members who were generous with their time and attention to promoting the school. It is always a pleasure to present the environment and our beautiful equipment and materials.

Work is proceeding steadily for the re-opening of PP3 with furniture building and partitioning underway.  The lower primary, upper primary and lower secondary environments have been planned and we are looking forward to the stimulation these movements and new perspectives will bring. We are very pleased to welcome Yaelle Grinberg and Bernice Oellermann back to the school. Yaelle and Bernice will share the teaching role, working with Hemali Naik’s assistance.  We will celebrate the re-opening of PP3 and mark Mrs Duyker’s birthday with a special event on 22 July. We hope parents will join us for an afternoon tea presentation and guided tours of the new rooms. 

We have also appointed an administrative assistant to work in the office. We are very pleased to welcome Christine Fogel who has joined us on a part-time basis. Christine has already been of assistance in coding with the production of an up-dated and detailed internal reporting document. This will allow us more easily transfer information when students transit from one developmental group to the next. It will also augment and expand the analysis of student progress and achievement that teachers undertake collectively each year during curriculum and performance reviews.

Along with other Montessori schools in Western Australia, we are making application to the Schools Curriculum and Standards Authority (SCSA) for recognition of an alternative curriculum (the National Montessori Curriculum) and reporting regime. We are confident of success with these applications, as the National Montessori Curriculum and exemption from comparative reporting already has national approval.

At the most recent AISWA Small Schools Collegiate Meeting, the submission of applications was explained by Juanita Healey, who manages the recognition process for the SCSA.  Most WA Montessori schools are making a joint application and were grateful for the assistance provided by both AISWA and the SCSA. 

This meeting was held at Bold Park Community School who have a very interesting ‘wild area’! This is an area of trees and scrub inviting very messy and adventurous outdoor play. We are always looking to provide more of this sort of fun and activity for our students, and will continue to explore use of our own bushland and other nearby parkland.

The whole school enjoyed the presentations by Dr Noel Nannup recently. With a quiet and humorous manner, he told us many stories of the past and the present. We were very keen to hear how indigenous people used the area around our school and all the students, from youngest to oldest learnt a great deal from Noel’s presentations.

May 2016

The first day of the new term , a children free day, a day  that is reserved for cleaning and preparing the environment, is also the only day in the term when all staff have the opportunity to enjoy a lunch together!  A simple Subway lunch, but a wonderful time to meet and reconnect.   We are extremely fortunate to have staff with a strong commitment and care towards the children and a collaborative and supporting relationship with each other.  We welcome Eavan Coughlan, Marta Costa as new staff and Melanie Grabowski and Katharina Stillitano to their new roles.  We also welcome Peter Wood who teaches the LS students  woodwork skills as part of their Occupations programme.

This term we commence our annual in-house refresher workshops!  This year we have chosen Math and presentations with the Montessori math material used in all areas of school, mainly PP and Primary will be done over a period of 4 weeks.  While this is intended for all PP and Primary teachers, the workshops are open to all staff members of the school.  

The big task of mapping the Montessori National Curriculum to the West Australian Curriculum began as a joint venture with representatives of all Montessori Schools in WA coming together to work on it.  We are very thankful to the Principal and staff of Beehive Montessori School  who have very generously offered to share their document with the rest of the Montessori schools in WA.  The preparation of such a document is essential, in order for us to apply for the Montessori National Curriculum to be approved as an alternative curriculum.  

The Small Schools Collegiate Meeting held on 9th May was attended by Jane and myself. The main item on the agenda was the submission of the applications for approval of alternative curriculum and alternative reporting. While there will be a joint submission for all Montessori schools for the curriculum, each school will have to individually apply for approval of their method of reporting. Both submissions are due by the end of June and we hope to receive notification of approval by the end of October.

One of the talks at the Briefing the Board Conference I attended was on “Why Choose our School”.  It is evident with the current WA economy, the slowing of the mining boom, lower incomes and relocations have resulted in a significant drop in student numbers in schools.  Some schools like the Independent Public schools have become very aggressive in their marketing to increase enrolments.   

The way we always promote our school is to convey the message that we are different and that we will work with parents to meet the particular needs of their child.  The many ways that we differ from other schools have been highlighted at the recent AGM in the Co-Principal’s report.   I feel privileged to be part of the school community that recognises and believes in these differences.

 It was also very interesting to hear at the conference that many schools have a ‘sad’ term one.  The reason given was that children have a rigorous NAPLAN test practise schedule in order to obtain overall good results for the school.  We are so fortunate to have our children go about their ‘normally different’ life without that fear and stress.  Rather our children are visibly excited and enjoy the novelty of  the NAPLAN.

Confidence, curiosity and motivation are some characteristics of our 3 year olds!  They are absolutely comfortable in asking questions, big questions, communicating and taking risks.  It  is these characteristics that prove invaluable in no matter what line of work an adult may pursue.

Self esteem is connected to the confidence and motivation that children need to achieve their academic goals.  Our aim is to preserve these traits in our children as they continue to move through all cycles of development.  On Saturday 23rd July, we will hold a Montessori Secondary Information Morning.  It is an opportunity for us to see through our secondary students how our goal of developing personality is met.

The Montessori Method has evolved after meticulous testing and scientific studies.  These studies have shown that development in children occurs in 6 year cycles.  Dr Montessori called it the “Constructive rhythm of life”.  While some children achieve academic goals earlier than others, we often see children exceed our expectations at the end of a cycle, mostly because they have been given the time. 

Let us continue to build a Montessori environment that promotes independence, freedom and happiness through understanding and respect.

April 2016

The first term seems to have passed so quickly! It does not seem that long ago that we were welcoming everyone back for the new year.

We have had our first Evacuation Drill for the year, which included the Playgroup. This was an interesting exercise and we learn a great deal from each drill — which is the whole point, of course.  It can be difficult explaining to young children that we are practicing for something that has not ever happened at our school, but the little walk to the nearby park with everyone else from the school was quite an enjoyable diversion for them.

Harmony Day was again a very enjoyable activity for the whole school. This is such a lovely event for the children, with small groups from each class visiting a table displaying the culture, language and landscape features etc. of a particular country. This year, there were displays from Italy, Poland, Russia and Germany. The IB students organise the event as part of the Creativity, Activity and Service component of their course. We are delighted that they manage this event so beautifully each year. And we are all very grateful for the time and enthusiasm of the parent volunteers who so generously show their love of their homeland.

It has been interesting to read the notes from the National Education Forum attended recently on our behalf by Montessori Australia Foundation. Several of the keynote speakers addressed issues that we feel are integral to Montessori education in this school.

The forum reported on the fall in living standards that has occurred over the last 4 years. The independent school sector had been the fastest growing school sector for many years, but is tapering now particularly since the GFC, with less families with a surplus to send a child to an independent school. Parents chose an independent school for academic results, individual attention and disciplined environment. And we hope that parents choose our Montessori school be

Speakers at the forum commented on the critical importance of the teacher as the person who ignites curiosity, supports mastery of content, finds the passion and arouses the interest — not as a robot, delivering textbook content, administering tests and marking tests.

This task is not an easy one — unlike that of a robot. Teachers need to facilitate deep learning, rather than focus on superficial learning, which is what NAPLAN assesses. Teachers need the time and freedom to focus on developing and maintaining curiosity, to assist the child to engage with learning as a habit.  It takes time and care to grow these teachers, and speakers at the forum acknowledged that universities need to change their practices and training.

The Australian Government is currently funding a greater emphasis on certain parts of the national curriculum — science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects in both primary and secondary schools. The aim is to increase the number of students taking up STEM subjects and so better equip students with the skills needed for the economy of the future. We would argue that the jobs of the future have not yet been invented, so education needs