The Final National Briefing for the VEGPS Stage 1 Good Practice Schools was held at Kingscliffe on April 3 &4 2006 on the northern coast of NSW and was attended by cluster co-ordinators from 26 groups of schools around Australia. DEST, Curriculum Corporation, University Academic Network members and State and Territory Values Education officers were also represented. The purpose of the briefing was to bring together the project co-ordinators to discuss the projects and the final report expectations. Kathryn and Jennie attended and the following is a brief summary.

Highlights

The work of all of our schools received an incredibly positive response from all who looked through the examples of work we had brought along from each class and school.

We spoke to a range of people from DEST, Curriculum Corporation, University networks, state reps and other clusters about the project. Some looked at our newsletters, power points, dvd’s and had discussions about the scope and depth of the work in the schools. The integrated nature of the project across all learning areas was constantly noted by people.

The highlight for us was the constant affirmation of how fantastic our teachers and students are. The role of our families was also seen as something worth celebrating.

We met with Di Watt from DEST (pictured here with Kathryn), Barbara Bereznicki, Julie Harris, Genevieve Hartley, RonToomey, Anna Spencer and Leanne Compton from the Curriculum Corporation.                        

Brian Rogers from WADET met with us and spoke about the state perspective on values education .(pictured with Barry Down and Kathryn)

What follows is a summary of the examples we provided from each school in our project to demonstrate the variety of approaches.

Another example we mentioned was the bus stop project-and the social action of the school around the issue of grafitti and damage to their place.

The ways of knowing about Manning Lake was a great model for how mapping a place can go beyond geography- and into history, culture,economic, environmental and social relations. Kerry Street has a strong relationship with ‘their place”.

Through projects such as the Frog Bog Garden, children, teachers and parents have become part of this wider ‘ecosystem’ of sustainability values education.

The relationships that the school has built with individuals and organisations outside of the school-the local council and CALM was also discussed through t he watsonia weed eradication project. (See the Nyindamurra website) Inspiring and ongoing educational relationships! (photos from the Nyindamurra site at www,kidsplacemaps.wa.ed.au)

Moerlina School , like all of our schools, took a multifaceted approach throughout the whole school. At the Briefing we provided examples of the Tabloid Day (photo from Moerlina site at www.kidsplacemaps.wa.edu.au ) as an example of the child centred and respectful practices of this school. Herdsman Lake had been identified as a special place for the school and the student council along with the principal and volunteer parents undertook a series of visits to learn about the lake. This entailed cultural visits with Nyungars to learn about historical and contemporary relationships. Wetland ecology, environmental issues and the social uses of the lake were themes as well.

The Student Council project provided an exemplar of how through the leadership and care of this group of students, the whole school community was involved in the rich learning experience.

The tabloid day provided the means for each student council member to demonstrate and share their learning with the whole school. A vast array of thoughtful and engaging activities were designed by the children about the Nyungar culture and relations, the ecology, water  and waste issues and how we can care for the place. Rich, respectful and exciting educational practice at Moerlina!

Strelley School

Mikurrunya Hills(from Strelley website at www.kidsplacemaps.wa.edu.au )

We provided people with examples from the website as discussion points. The remote locations and geography were points of interest and we discussed how students at Strelley had been very keen on the mapping process . The way in which teachers made mapping relevant to different age groups (For example, secondary students mapping classrooms and the region, younger children mapping their playground) was recognised as an important part of making the project relevant across the age continuum.

Dicksons Truckstop photo from Strelley website at www.kidsplacemaps.wa.au   We also discussed how for the community at Strelley a place like Dickson’s Roadhouse is a hot spot. (See Strelley website). This lead to a discussion of how for students in different settings, a roadhouse/ fuel station signifies different things- different economic, environmental and social relationships. As a tool for children to consider similarities and differences in other children’s lives this example shows us some of the educational possibilities that will arise from our shared website. Strelley school shows us how children and families in communities can map out their place and express what is important for others to see through the world wide web!

Lance Holt School’s examples included a short DVDs made by the year 6/7s about the Swan River, Kahootz animations by year 4/5s on the Fremantle and the Bathers Beach Tableau which involved the whole school. The use of multi media was seen as an exciting way of children developing skills and having a number of ways of articulating their ideas. The Swan River film was a project where the year 6/7 students and their teacher researched the relationships that the Swan River sustains. The movie demonstrates the research and learning that students gained individually and collaboratively. Working with Nyungar elders and advisors, researching Swan River Trust documentation and using texts and the internet, students wrote a piece about a particular precinct of the river. The resulting film tells the story of the Nyungar relationship with the Swan river in terms of its creation and its role in the everyday life of Nyungar people.(How the river has cared for and been cared for). The students also reflected on how the information they gathered has impacted upon how they see the river and understand relationships between Nyungars and non-Nyungars.

The year 4/5 Kahootz animations demonstrate the understanding the students gained from thinking about the layers of economic, environmental, cultural and social relations in the Fremantle region. Using a creative medium to express the diversity of uses of the city in which the school resides enabled all children to express what is important for them. It is also an enjoyable media for younger children to watch and learn from.

The Bathers Beach Tableau was a huge whole school project working with an artist to create a clay and cardboard tableau of our schools very special place.

Over a period of weeks every child researched a particular animal, plant, historical period, person, architecture or marine vessel to create a piece to the tableau. With help from parents,  and some very committed staff the tableau took its beautiful shape and culminated in an opening and show at a local gallery. The scope and depth of the project was not lost on people who were amazed at the host of learning opportunities and curriculum areas that the project covered-mapping, measuring, building, geometry, spacial observations, numeracy, literacy and research skills.

What all of our schools examples point to is the care, respect and passion that we all have for education. The nurturing of each child’s potential and possibilities is shown by the wide range of learning experiences and approaches used in our project. We emphasised that as community schools who are sharing in this project we also share in a commitment to these kind of practices every day in our schools. The importance of social action arising from learning is also an integral part of the work we have done in the project.

What else has been happening?

Lance Holt School teachers took their years 2-5 classes along for a lovely afternoon at Kerry Street School’s special place. It would be  terrific to be able to do this with other classes and other schools. Play, laughter and sharing are all valid and valued parts of our relationships to place and each other!

Nyindamurra Friendships

Laura and Gary and their son Declan have been visiting with Nyindamura school and families both at Margaret River and hosting them here in Perth. As well as running workshops and supporting the project, some special connections and friendships between adults and children have been made here.

University Visits As well as the usual work of Term One there has been a number of visits and guest speaking roles for Kathryn as Co-ordinator of this project.

Curtin University and UWA

Kathryn  was invited to speak to  final year education students about the cluster’s work in values education. The students and lecturers were very interested and amazed at the range of practices and possibilities that our project demonstrates.

Before this talk, Kathryn was also invited to speak to the staff of the education faculties at Curtin and UWA  to inform them about values education in our schools. Barry Down, a critical friend from Murdoch University Education Faculty, spoke about the national VEGPS project and Kathryn spoke about our cluster’s approach to  values education. Her talk was well received, with a number of questions about how do education students get to see this kind of practice when they are doing their teaching pracs. This session has also lead to further contact with staff who are involved with designing values education units for Curtin university.

    “The time has come” the walrus said “to talk  of many things”

or put another way

    “ the time has come for us to talk, write and         report” say the Curriculum corporation “ on         the many things that we have done over the  life of this project” .

And we are...

We are fortunate to be working with Dave Palmer (pictured with Alix & Denise at Moerlina )who has already spent time with a number of you, at Lance Holt School and Moerlina School in preparing your case studies.  For those of you who have chosen to write up your reports he is looking forward to seeing your drafts soon.

Dave’s trip to Strelley was postponed due to cyclones and the potential difficulties for travelling in the Pilbara. He intends to get together with staff at Strelley school at a time suitable for everyone. What a season- 7 cyclones wasn’t it? We would like to hear how these conditions impact upon teaching and learning at Strelley, Warralong and Woodstock! Hope a gentle breeze is blowing these days. (Pictured is Warralong High School Classroom)

Laura Stocker (Pictured with her sustainability values heart map) has been working alongside Nyindamurra school community and is preparing their case study with care.

It is a big job to try and summarise the intellect, emotion and practice that has been at the heart of our project. Mapping the diverse and convergent terrain of values education in each of our schools is a task that we have all a role to play in. We are looking forward to seeing the reflections from you all-staff, children, families and the wider community around your schools in the case studies.

Please do not hesitate to email or phone Dave, Jennie, Kathryn or Laura if you have any queries about this part of our work.

We will provide everyone with a copy of the report when it is finished.

www.kidsplacemaps.wa.edu.au

Thank you to Darren at Strelley, Kath at Kerry Street, Denise and Alix at Moerlina, Denny at Nyindamurra and Deb at Lance Holt School for your efforts at each of your schools.

 The voice of children on what and who they care about, how they care for their places and think about the future,their artwork, writings,mapping,research, interviews, perspectives-are presented for many others to see( and hear in some cases). What a powerful thing to have created! When all of the schools are online we will have to arrange a launch to celebrate this site as a reflection of the work we have done together and the possibilities it will have for further collaboration and exchange.

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