Currambena is founded on the belief that all children are individuals with common needs for both security and challenge in their learning environment. In a school environment that is safe and happy children’s self-esteem will grow and their innate curiosity and desire to gain knowledge will rise to the challenge of new learning experiences.

Core values & beliefs

At Currambena we are committed to providing an alternative to mainstream education developing all aspects of each child. We routinely incorporate valid theories in education, child development and conflict resolution to complement our rich experience of providing alternative education. Our philosophical approach to education is based on a commitment to:

The joyful pursuit of lifelong learning

We believe there is no restriction on what children can learn. Our curriculum gives emphasis to academic, social, emotional and physical aspects of children’s development.

Celebrating the uniqueness of each child

Each child’s learning is meaningful, creative and intrinsically valued without being compared to others.

Developing a nurturing community to support children’s development

Learning goes on inside and outside the classroom at Currambena and we work to create a caring and safe community that respects, trusts and treasures each individual child. In turn children actively contribute to the school and develop a sense of belonging to a community.

Supporting our professional educators so they can promote learning with energy and passion

The teachers earn the respect of the parents and children through their commitment, dedication, skills and educational expertise. They develop close and personal relationships with each child, involving them in sharing decisions about their own learning.

Honoring the Role of Parents

Parents are respected as the child’s first teachers. Their contribution to every aspect of the school is highly valued.

Teaching and Modeling Effective Communications

We empower children with communication skills so that they can learn to take responsibility for themselves, to cooperate with others and to effectively resolve conflicts.

Open Governance

We are committed to transparent, democratic, consultative and contestable governance that is accessible to teachers, parents and children.

Adopted by the Currambena School Council – October 1999

Student Negotiated Learning

Student Negotiated Learning

Currambena’s philosophy translates into child-centered teaching practice. Each child is given the freedom and opportunity for discovery and growth in all areas of development – intellectual, physical, emotional and social. Children are trusted and encouraged to reveal their own needs and these are valued and acted upon in the educational context.

To this end, class sizes are kept low and children develop warm and trusting relationships with their teacher. Class groups are arranged chronologically with an age range of approximately 2 to 3 years in each. Children move to the next class when they express their readiness on a number of developmental criteria and may do so at appropriate times during or at the end of the school year.

Teaching is often small group or individually based and continuous individual assessment replaces formal testing.

Examples of children’s work are often sent home or collated into portfolio form. Teachers also maintain developmental records and will discuss your child’s progress at parent – teacher interviews held during the year. Parents are encouraged to make arrangements for additional interviews if required.

The Philosophy of Student Negotiated Learning

The philosophy of child centred education consists of a number of beliefs about the nature of childhood and the nature of education. A search into its origins would include a consideration of views expounded by Jean Jacques Rousseau who wrote “Nature provides for the child’s growth in her own fashion and this should never be thwarted.” (Emile 1762 p.50)

Other educationalists developed Rousseau’s views about education and the nature of childhood. In some instances they established their own schools and teacher training programmes to make their philosophy a practical reality. They included Pestalozzi, Froebel, Kirkpatrick, Montessori, Dewey and Neil.

The central recurring themes of child centred education are:
  • An appreciation of children as individuals – the focus is on what already is and less on what each might become.
  • The nature of the child to be active. In a physical sense, this means the child freely moves within the school environment and does not spend most of the day being quietly seated. In intellectual terms, children actively create their knowledge. They are not viewed as empty vessels to be filled.

  • Childhood is seen as gradual progression towards adulthood, best aided by adults who have a respect and an appreciation of children.

  • Diversity is welcomed as richness and celebrated. There is no pressure on conformity.

  • Learning is largely self-motivated and is most effective when taking place in a relaxed atmosphere.

Social Skills

Social Skills at Currambena

Social development at Currambena begins as each child enters school with an already formed perception of themselves and how they fit into their world. They each have their own way of relating to others in the community whether they are a new three year old preschool child or older.

These are the things that are important to us in social development;

  • that children build strong relationships with each other and with the other people in the Currambena community eg. teachers, other children and other children's parents.
  • there are many opinions and views in the world. Children are encouraged to decide on their own opinion and discussions occur about how people can have different opinions and values and not agree with each other's beliefs.
  • that children are able to work collaboratively and cooperatively with others.
  • that children are able to make agreements for the benefit of the whole community.
  • that children are given enough free time in which to play as play is where children build relationships and develop.
  • that children develop trust in each other and in the community.
  • that children are given the space to work things out in relationships with support when necessary.
  • that children find their voice in social relationships and use it to meet their own needs while also considering the needs of those around them.

Children at Currambena learn these lifelong skills throughout their day in play, in learning, in meetings and through real life activities that foster trust and authenticity.


The Importance of Play

We asked the children as we often do at Currambena.

The answers were diverse in what the children played but the answers were very similar for each age group from 3 to 12 years old.

So here they are:

You need it for a good life.

All that matters is it's fun, it feels good, it gives you energy, you can go crazy,stretch, it’s just what kids do. You would be bored, lonely, sad, depressed & your brain would be all stuffy if you didn’t.

It keeps you comfortable so you can relax, be free, get more energy & you can practise like on the monkey bars so you get really good at it. Then you can see the world upside down. It’s healthy for your body & brain so it helps you to think.

You learn lots by playing & it can challenge you to get better at stuff. You can teach others & be with big & little kids.  It gives you time to think! You can learn & make up rules for games. Sometimes you can go crazy & not have rules. You can change rules, too.

You can feel awesome, silly, hot, excited, imaginative, creative, funny, love, happy, interested, exhilarated, relaxed, strong, laugh & smile.

You can get upset, hurt, sad & angry if people want different things in a game.

Sometimes kids say they do not want to play with you & that can hurt. Then you need to talk to them, get help, find someone else to play with or play by yourself. You might ask them –how come?

Also you learn how to treat friends and share.

You have to ask to play.  It can be difficult to make decisions about who to play with & not hurt friend’s feelings. Sometimes you might ask someone you have not played with before and they become a friend.

If you have a problem you ask them about it to sort it out, get another friend to help, ask a teacher and you have to talk about it so you can sort it out. You ask lots of questions to try & work it out, listen & use eye contact. That can be hard.

The children said adults should play, too!
Taking Play Seriously, by Robin Marantz Henig

Beau Lotto + Amy O’Toole: Science is for everyone, kids included

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