Message from the Principal

Monday 28th November 2016

Transitions were a great success!

We have now had three days of transition at Caulfield and also a full day of transition to Cycle 4. This morning a group of parents were able to share experiences, nervousness and joy, as they were welcomed by the PA and had some slices and cakes made by the Cycle 4 students. As always, some of the biggies from Cycle 1 who were transitioning to Cycle 2 felt that the bus rides they had last week back to Brighton, were the highlight! It was wonderful to welcome Ned Smithfield to his new class too, and for his students to work with him for two mornings, albeit in the Library instead of the new classroom which will be ready for the beginning of Term 1.

This is not new information, but it is interesting to watch another transition which is happening in Finland as they overhaul their schools, eliminating specific subject lessons by 2020.

And it is interesting to see how like our Montessori it sounds…   These paragraphs are taken from an article – the link is below.

“The new method of “phenomenon teaching” involves teaching of broad topics, combining different skills. For example, you might learn geography, geology and languages through a lesson in which students identify different countries on a map and discuss their climates, all in French.

Vocational courses might include “cafeteria services”, combining maths, writing and communication skills. Others might study a real-life topic such as the European Union, merging economics, history, languages, geography and politics.

Finland is outshone in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) only by countries like China and Singapore, where students are held to punishing study regimes.

Students are on first-name terms with their teachers, who usually work with a class for years, getting to know each individual’s needs. Most classes have three teachers — two in charge and a third providing one-to-one assistance.

Students are only tested so teachers can see what they know. There is no stress around the papers, which are taken home and read over by parents.

Curricular programs are designed to assist with learning, and used flexibly by teachers as an aid, rather than focusing on helping students pass standardised tests. Classes are not streamed by ability. The best and worst students are taught together, so talented children learn to teach, work in groups and accept diversity. There is no such thing as a failing school in Finland. Teachers are highly valued and have Masters degrees.

“There are schools that are teaching in the old fashioned way which was of benefit in the beginnings of the 1900s — but the needs are not the same and we need something fit for the 21st century.” says Marjo Kyllonen, Helsinki’s education manager.

It’s not just the shift to broad subjects that we can learn from. Finland has had exemplary schooling techniques since the 1970s, and that’s on show everywhere with active methods of teaching, like having students move around the room to look at classmates’ work and give feedback, rather than sit through 20 presentations, bored and tuned out.”

Gay Wales 

“Let us leave the life free to develop within the limits of the good, and let us observe this inner life developing. This is the whole of our mission.”  Maria Montessori