Here are answers to some common questions that prospective parents ask us about Village School.
- The Village School difference
- Enrolling at Village School
- How many students are enrolled at Village School?
- What are the advantages of a small school?
- What geographical region does Village School serve?
- At what age can children start at Village School?
- What if my child isn’t ready for school at the beginning of the year?
- If my child starts school mid-year, won’t he miss important learning?
- How does Village School help children in the transition between preschool and primary school?
- How much technology do Village School students use?
- Is the Village School curriculum approved by the government?
- Everyday life at Village School
- Learning at Village School
- Life after Village School
The Village School difference
What sort of people does Village School appeal to?
Village School parents are a diverse group who cannot be categorised into a particular occupation, educational background or lifestyle.
There are professionals, academics, artists, students, teachers, trades-people, writers, stay-at-home mums & dads, executives and small business owners (just to name a few!).
Village School parents do share some common beliefs, including the following:
- They want an educational environment that adapts to the individual needs of their child
- They are interested in life skills as well as academic skills
- They want their child to discover and never lose the wonder of learning
- They are looking for a sense of community and the opportunity to be meaningfully involved in their child’s school
What sort of child does Village School work best for?
We generally find that the students who do best at Village School have the following traits:
- Able to handle freedom and responsibility
- Is passionate about their special hobbies
- Enjoys being interrupted by the unexpected
- Likes being given the chance to lead
- Enjoys collaborating with teachers rather than just following directions
- Loves interacting with animals
- Likes expressing themselves through the arts, both fine arts and performance.
- Enjoys outdoor activities
How can Village School do things that other schools can’t?
We have small classes that tailor individual learning programs for each child.
We don’t expect that all children will be learning and achieving exactly the same thing at the same time.
So if they take a day off during the week, they won’t miss out on learning the letter “m” or if they start mid-year they won’t have missed addition!
How small are Village School classes?
We have a commitment to keeping our class sizes under 20 children per teacher, so that we can achieve our vision of inspiring children to become resourceful, independent learners.
Why does Village School have mixed age classes?
School is one of the few places in society that divides us from our peers on the basis of age.
Village School creates a more authentic and traditional social environment where classes are structured in a similar way to a family or workplace.
In the “community classes” children of different ages, experiences and abilities work together in small groups and engage in learning activities planned with their teacher.
Learning occurs in a variety of surroundings from the whole class to small groups and individual settings.
Children work with each other, developing and sharing knowledge, testing theories and reflecting on their learning.
Teachers work as facilitators of this social learning process, monitoring group and individual development.
Benefits of mixed age classes
- Children learn to work collaboratively; they can take the role of ‘student’ or ‘teacher’ with their peers.
- Research indicates that children who have participated in mixed age classes continue to be more sociable and less aggressive.
- The children are grouped flexibly according to the needs of the learning community e.g. their interests, competencies, a specific learning need or social skills development.
- The child’s individuality is met through small flexible groups which allows the teachers to build on children’s competencies and interests.
- The children have the chance to learn in a way that meets their own learning style rather than a one size fits all approach to education.
- Children learn from one another, the teacher, parents and the environment. Rather than a sterile silent classroom, a child’s environment and learning is enhanced by movement and interaction.
Enrolling at Village School
How many students are enrolled at Village School?
We have planning approval for up to 240 students on the site, but we have found that 95 students is generally the optimal size of our school under current conditions.
Our total enrolments generally vary in size from year to year, and ranges between 75 and 95 students.
What are the advantages of a small school?
Our small school size provides us with many advantages, including:
- Teachers can track each individual student’s progress, and create personalised learning programs and strategies
- It’s easy to build warm, caring and personal relationships between students and teachers across the school
- It helps us to create a very engaged, welcoming school community
- It encourages children to play with different age groups
- You’re at a school where everyone knows your name, and where you won’t be left out or ignored
What geographical region does Village School serve?
Our school is based in Croydon North, in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, Victoria in Australia.
Although many of our students come from the surrounding suburbs, such as Croydon North, Croydon, Ringwood, Moroolbark, Chirnside Park, Bayswater and Lilydale, we also attract students from a much wider area around the school.
Once parents have found that our school matches their educational and philosophical beliefs, they are willing to make the commitment to travel to our school from wherever they live.
Some of our students travel from more distant suburbs including, Ferntree Gully, Boronia, Healesville, Mitcham, Eltham, Montrose, Warrandyte and Kangaroo Ground.
The furthest our students have come from to-date are Fitzroy and Cockatoo.
At what age can children start at Village School?
Children can join the primary group from the age of 4, and children can stay until the age of 13 years.
We talk in age rather than grade at Village School because interest and ability group our students, rather than the familiar age/grade format.
What if my child isn’t ready for school at the beginning of the year?
At Village School, your child can start school at any stage throughout the year.
If your child isn’t ready for school in February, he may be ready in May.
Unlike mainstream schools, you don’t have to wait until the commencement of the next school year.
At Village School, you can ease the transition to school by tailoring the week to suit your child’s needs.
Young children can become tired and overwhelmed with the demands of a new environment and a five-day school week.
Many families give their child a mid-week break to recharge their batteries.
If my child starts school mid-year, won’t he miss important learning?
Each child at Village School is allowed to learn and progress at their own pace.
Learning experiences for your child would be planned around his own individual needs, interests and abilities.
Research shows that learning is a developmental process. It is unrealistic to expect children to learn to walk or talk at the same time.
It is just as unrealistic to expect children to learn to read and write at the same time.
By not focusing on traditional age divisions our children have more time to develop skills and competencies without judgement or alienation.
This freedom allows students to surpass the average expectation for the grade/age or to spend time to increase confidence.
How does Village School help children in the transition between preschool and primary school?
Village School has a strong transition program for young children entering the primary school.
It is our aim to make the transition a gentle one which supports the children and their families and takes care of their very individual needs.
Children start primary when they are really ready
Unlike most schools, children can start at Village School at any stage throughout the year.
Often children aren’t quite ready for school at the beginning of the year, or perhaps they aren’t old enough.
Rather than having to wait 12 months until the beginning of the next school year, they have the opportunity of starting when their parents and preschool teacher agree they are ready to make a successful transition.
Children visit the primary extensively throughout Term 4
Most schools have an orientation day at the end of the year to help children become familiar with the school environment.
At Village School the preschool children who will be moving to the primary visit the primary classroom for short periods of time on almost a daily basis.
In this way, they get to know their future teacher and classmates and become familiar with the rhythm of life at school. This makes for a gentle transition period.
Parents can help their child settle in at school
There is no drop, kiss and leave policy at Village School.
Parents are encouraged to stay in the classroom for as long as they need to, to help their child feel safe, settled, and secure in the classroom and the daily routine.
Children can start with a shorter week
Starting school can be an overwhelming and tiring experience for some children.
Tired children will not have the energy or motivation to get the most from their school day.
A day at home to recharge their batteries helps to make the beginning of school a happy, positive and successful experience.
How much technology do Village School students use?
Students at Village School learn to use information technology as part of the educational programs.
We have desktop computers, laptops and tablets in all of our classrooms that children have access to at all times.
Students are permitted to access the internet at school for the purposes of research.
All use of technology and the internet is supervised by the classroom teachers.
Is the Village School curriculum approved by the government?
The Village School curriculum is carefully designed to align with the Victorian curriculum for primary school students.
We comply with all requirements that apply to other Victorian primary schools, including school reporting, writing reports, documentation and policies, and are fully audited by the VRQA.
Everyday life at Village School
Do you have a uniform at Village School?
No, we do not have a uniform for our students at Village School.
We simply ask that they wear sensible, sun-smart clothing, including hats in Terms 1 and 4, and safe close-toed shoes when outside the classrooms.
We have a year-round requirement for gumboots or riding boots to protect the children’s feet as they complete their farm duties.
We do offer branded t-shirts in a variety of colours if students would prefer to wear something akin to a uniform, but it is not a requirement.
Students may wear whatever they choose to school, so long as it is safe and appropriate.
Do you offer out-of-of-hours care?
At this stage, Village School is not able to offer out of hours care, due to the small size of the school.
Our teachers are available to supervise your children between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., but you will need to make alternative arrangements for your child if you can’t be there to drop them off or pick them up during these hours.
We have a vibrant and engaged community of parents who may be open to making arrangements directly with you to meet your out-of-hours needs, and once you are a parent at the school we encourage you to join our Village School Community to continue building relationships with them.
Learning at Village School
Is it true that children can play all day at Village School?
Play is highly valued at Village School.
But don’t worry – the good news is that your child can play and learn at the same time.
Traditionally there has been a separation between play and learning in our schools. Learning happened in the classroom. Play happened in the playground, after lunch.
This separation of play and learning goes against all the theoretical principles of child development and learning.
If you study education or child development today you learn that play is essential to learning.
For example, it is through play that children construct knowledge; refine their learning; develop creativity and imagination and gain control and confidence.
If we have this knowledge it makes sense for a school to embrace play as part of its curriculum.
Unfortunately, implementing theory into practice takes time.
When Village School led the way over 30 years ago, mainstream schools were still not giving children much opportunity for structured or unstructured play.
Today, most schools recognise the importance of play.
However, the wheels of change are slow in a big machine like the Department of Education, so they still have some catching up to do.
Consequently, you will notice a greater emphasis at Village School on things like:
- Active, hands on learning
- Meaningful, relevant learning experiences
- Interactive teaching and cooperative learning
- Creating indoor and outdoor environments rich in opportunities to explore & create
It should also be said that at Village School children cannot spend every day playing, isolated from their friends or their learning needs.
While we value play, it is used as a means of achieving the Victorian curriculum outcomes and learning valuable life lessons and skills.
At Village School, we aim for balance and harmony and the individual needs of the child in everything we do.
If the children have so much fun, will my child still learn to read, write and do maths?
Everything that happens at Village School is grounded in a strong knowledge of how children learn and develop.
We are coming from a place of established educational theory and research, so we are not too ‘out there’.
Village School children achieve the same Victorian Curriculum outcomes as mainstream schools do.
But by making learning fun and letting children learn at their own place, we have kids who love coming to school, love learning and tend to learn quickly and easily.
Many of our students take on leadership roles and achieve high scores at both private and state secondary schools after leaving Village, proving that our methods work.
Will I see lots of worksheets and homework?
You will see worksheets (varying from class to class), and you may even see homework, but it won’t be in the same format as mainstream schools and it is not as important to us.
You see, we know that no-one has all the answers, that there are often many ways to solve a problem, and that one day many of our children will be working in jobs which haven’t yet been invented.
By making learning fun, and by allowing children to explore, to think and, with support and encouragement, to find their own answers to problems, we are preparing them for whatever their lives bring in the future.
Mountains of worksheets and tiresome homework will not prepare them for the world beyond school.
At Village School we believe the best way to prepare children for the future is to give them the skills to solve problems and to find the answers they are seeking, and we believe children with a strong sense of self and the confidence to think for themselves will be far better prepared for adult life.
What kind of support do you provide to students who need extra assistance?
Our small class sizes allow us to accommodate different learning styles and abilities to a reasonable degree.
For students who need further support with their learning, we have learning support staff in every classroom, as well an extra support teacher outside of the classroom.
Sometimes, when we have exhausted resources with helping particular students, we may suggest that you seek professional help and advice.
Village School does its best to work with these professionals to create a workable program for your child.
Sometimes a different style of school may be needed for your child.
Life after Village School
How will my child cope with life after Village?
Children who have been educated in this system are usually ready to participate in choosing a secondary school for themselves.
They expect to be consulted about this important change and usually have the confidence to try new systems and enjoy the differences they encounter.
What happens to students after Village School?
Village School provides children with a strong academic, emotional, and social foundation.
Along with the important basic skills, Village School children take with them a love of learning, a strong sense of self and well-developed thinking and communication skills.
Following their Village School education students select a wide variety of high schools to suit their individual needs and interests, and adapt to different settings extremely well.
Many Village School students have chosen to continue their education in colleges and universities all over the country, and abroad.
Many have entered directly into the worlds of business, trades, arts, crafts, and technical vocations.
Former Village School students see themselves as confident and competent members of society, capable of defining meaningful goals for their lives and finding ways to achieve them.
You can read the stories of some past students, describing their experiences at Village School and their achievements since leaving the school on our reviews page.
About our school
To learn more about our school, please see: