At Elsternwick Primary School our teachers plan, resource and deliver a comprehensive curriculum adapted from the Victorian curriculum in line with Department of Education and Training guidelines. We provide students with learning experiences that build on their prior knowledge and give priority above all else to developing and extending the fundamental skills and knowledge in English and Mathematics.
Underpinning all our curriculum is rigorous planning and high quality teaching utilising evidence based teaching strategies. Complementing the English and Mathematics programs are our integrated inquiry units, which require students to inquire and explore, interact with others and participate in shared problem solving and group decision making.
In order to develop the skills and dispositions foundational to learning for life we use five learning assets as developed by educational consultant and author Kath Murdoch.The five assets of Research, Collaboration, Communication, Thinking and Self – Management are embedded across the curriculum, meeting the General Capabilities disciplines within the Victorian Curriculum.
Accurate and comprehensive student assessment helps to improve student learning and outcomes and assists in establishing the future direction of learning at Elsternwick Primary School. In addition, assessment helps to identify areas of exemplary performance, as well as those in need of support and assistance and put plans in place to extend and support these students as required.
The school’s Assessment Schedule provides an ongoing process to gather, analyse and reflect on evidence to make informed and consistent judgements for future learning with staff using a variety of assessment methods which provide evidence that highlights student strengths and areas that require further improvement. Teachers then use this information to guide their planning and teaching and to cater for individual student needs. Students set specific learning goals with guidance from their teacher which are closely monitored throughout the year. Students receive regular verbal and written feedback on their learning to ensure appropriate progress is being made.
We provide detailed information to students about what we expect from them throughout the year and how their work will be assessed to allow for an effective student-teacher relationship.
EPS uses Compass, an online student learning management system for reporting to families which allows parents/carers to receive continuous reporting throughout the year, with work samples and comments uploaded each term for reading, writing, mathematics and the Big Question/I-Time/Discovery time. A mid-year and end of year report assesses each student against the Victorian Curriculum achievement standards and the five learner assets. A written comment is also included, linked to the school values and the Personal and Social Capabilities curriculum.
All classes at Elsternwick Primary School follow the structure of GANAG, an instructional model developed by educational consultant and author Jane Pollock. This model focuses on developing students as master learners. The strategies guide classroom practice to maximise the possibility of enhancing student achievement.
The purpose of our whole school instructional model is to provide staff with specific and measurable pedagogical approaches and strategies and classroom practices to improve student learning outcomes. This is aligned with promoting current DET initiatives. As a learning community, we value the importance of school-wide approaches, which promote consistency in expectations, a sense of belonging for students, and a structure for improved academic rigour.
Providing students with the skills and knowledge to thrive in the 21st century is a priority at Elsternwick Primary School. We believe that the Digital Technologies Curriculum is best taught in an integrated and seamless way across the whole breadth of the curriculum.
As such, our Digital Technologies curriculum aims to ensure that students can:
- Design, create, manage and evaluate sustainable and innovative digital solutions to meet and redefine current and future needs.
- Use computational thinking and the key concepts of abstraction; data collection, representation and interpretation; specification, algorithms and development to create digital solutions.
- Apply systems thinking to monitor, analyse, predict and shape the interactions within and between information systems and the impact of these systems on individuals, societies, economies and environments.
- Confidently use digital systems to efficiently and effectively automate the transformation of data into information and to creatively communicate ideas in a range of settings.
- Apply protocols and legal practices that support safe, ethical and respectful communications and collaboration with known and unknown audiences.
A key aspect of our Digital Learning Strategy is our BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) Program that is in place from Year 3 – 6 which enables our teachers to continue to provide a high quality educational experience and to ensure that students have reliable and up to date computers. In addition to this, we have a tech lab decked with PC’s and sets of laptops or ipads available to each year level to allow students to access as well as create digitally rich products during teaching and learning sessions. The students engage in a variety of activities and use a variety of hardware, which include projectors, scanners, printers, digital cameras, robotics and video cameras. The school is continually investing in its technologies infrastructure. All computers are networked and have high-speed connections to the Internet.
We are proud to have attained accreditation as an eSmart school through the ‘Alannah and Madeline Foundation’s eSmart program’ in 2017 at EPS. We acknowledge that the Internet is becoming an increasingly dangerous platform for young people and, through our teaching and Digital Technologies programs, we aim to educate, and reduce our students’ exposure, to online risks.
Elsternwick Primary School offers many Specialist programs including Physical Education, Performing Arts, Visual Arts and Mandarin/Digital Technologies. These subjects are taught by trained specialist teachers in well-equipped learning spaces for a session each week. We also have a dedicated Library where students have weekly Library lessons run by their classroom teachers.
At EPS, the aim of the Physical Education Program is to instill a lifelong commitment to the overall health and wellbeing of our students. Students participate in activities that foster friendship, listening, sharing, helping, negotiating and caring. Individual, partner and group work situations are experienced in all areas of the program.
In physical education sessions, students participate in a comprehensive skills based program that provides them with a sound base for participation in future sporting activities, and in the development of a healthy lifestyle. Areas of the program are: Ball Skills, Movement Education, Athletics, Cross country, Swimming, Fitness, Minor games for grades prep–two and and Major Games for students in Years 3 – 6.
We are a member of the Balaclava District Sports Association and compete in summer and winter inter-school matches in the following sports:
Softball, Volleystars, Rounders, Football, Basketball, Kickball, T-ball, Cricket, Soccer and Netball.
We also participate in District Swimming, Athletics and Cross Country Carnivals.
Students have the opportunity to try out for Victorian Primary School teams and to represent our school at District, Divisional, Regional and State Championships.
The Health and Physical Education program at EPS aims to develop the knowledge, understanding and skills to enable students to:
• Access, evaluate and synthesise information to take positive action to protect, enhance and advocate for their own and others’ health, wellbeing, safety and physical activity participation across their lifespan
• Develop and use personal, behavioural, social and cognitive skills and strategies to promote a sense of personal identity and wellbeing and to build and manage respectful relationships
• Acquire, apply and evaluate movement skills, concepts and strategies to respond confidently, competently and creatively in a variety of physical activity contexts and settings
•Engage in and enjoy regular movement-based learning experiences and understand and appreciate their significance to personal, social, cultural, environmental and health practices and outcomes
•Analyse how varied and changing personal and contextual factors shape understanding of, and opportunities for, health and physical activity locally, regionally and globally.
Elsternwick Primary School’s Performing Arts program aims to extend students’ skills, knowledge and confidence in the Music, Drama and Dance domains. Students explore the Elements of Music through voice, instruments and body percussion developing and growing their own musicianship and ensemble playing skills. Graphic and conventional notation is studied, with students learning to read melodic phrases, scores and chord charts whilst also composing their own. Through dance, dramatic play and music, students create mood and convey meaning, developing choreography, stagecraft and composition skills that culminates in the growth of their performer confidence.
The Music curriculum at EPS aims to develop:
• Confidence to be creative, innovative, thoughtful, skillful and informed musicians.
• Skills to listen, improvise, compose, interpret, perform, and respond with intent and purpose.
• Aesthetic knowledge and respect for music and music practices across global communities, cultures and musical traditions.
• Understanding that music as an aural art form and its relationship with other artforms and cultures.
The Dance curriculum at EPS aims to develop:
• Body awareness and technical and expressive skills to communicate ideas through movement confidently and creatively.
• Choreographic and performance skills and appreciation of their own and others’ dances.
• Respect for and knowledge of the diverse purposes, traditions, histories and cultures of dance by making and responding as active participants and informed audiences.
The Drama curriculum at EPS aims to develop:
• Confidence and self-esteem to explore, depict and celebrate themselves as actors, to take risks and challenge their own creativity through drama.
• Knowledge and understanding in controlling, applying and analysing the elements, skills, processes, forms, styles and techniques of drama to engage audiences and create meaning.
• Sense of curiosity, aesthetic knowledge, enjoyment and achievement through exploring and playing roles, and imagining situations, actions and ideas as drama makers and audiences.
• Knowledge and understanding of traditional and contemporary drama as critical and active participants and audiences.
The Elsternwick Primary School Visual Arts program serves as a medium for each student’s self-expression and is designed to promote creativity and imagination.
The foundation of our Visual Arts Program at EPS is celebrating art appreciation. Our students communicate their ideas and feelings, discover the art elements and principles, and practise the skills, techniques and processes involved in creating art, through the appreciation of an artist or an art style. There is an emphasis within the program to encourage individuality, to foster creative thinking and problem solving skills. Students are provided with opportunities which encourage exploration of a range of art elements, such as line, colour, shape, pattern and texture, and experiment with a variety of media and materials across a range of art areas, such as drawing, painting, construction, collage, sculpture, textiles and printmaking.
The Visual Arts curriculum at EPS aims to develop students’:
- Conceptual and perceptual ideas and expressions through design and inquiry processes.
- Visual arts techniques, materials, processes and technologies.
- Critical and creative thinking, using visual arts languages, theories and practices to apply aesthetic judgment.
- Respect for and acknowledgement of the diverse roles, innovations, traditions, histories and cultures of artists, craftspeople, designers, curators, critics and commentators.
- Respect for visual arts as social and cultural practices, including industry practices.
- Confidence, curiosity, imagination and enjoyment and a personal aesthetic through engagement with visual arts making, viewing, discussing, analysing, interpreting and evaluating.
The EPS Mandarin (Chinese) language program is taught in conjunction with Digital Technologies and takes place in both the recently refurbished computer lab (“The Tech Hive”) and the Chinese LOTE classroom. Both rooms are equipped with various technologies and are set up as bright, engaging learning environments. The main aim of this program is for students to explore the many aspects of Chinese culture and language, in order to broaden their understanding of what it means to be a young global citizen in this consistently evolving digital world.
Throughout their time at EPS, students learn about popular Chinese celebrations and festivals, ancient traditions and mythology, and significant Chinese people, places and events in history. Student voice is embedded in learning activities, with opportunities for students to explore their particular areas of interest in depth.
Students engage in all aspects of the Chinese language through spoken vocabulary and dialogue, songs, games, dance and written Chinese. Initial foundational language is taught in pinyin (Roman alphabet with tones) to ensure accurate pronunciation and understanding, with a progressive shift in the upper levels to commonly used Chinese characters (also known as Simplified Chinese).
The Chinese language curriculum at EPS aims to develop students’:
•Foundational ability to communicate effectively in a foreign language.
•Cultural awareness and understanding.
•Acceptance and appreciation of cultural diversity in our community.
•Understanding of their role as young global citizens.
Digital Technologies (or “DigiTech”) often ties in neatly with our Language program, allowing students to make connections and work together in safe, innovative digital environments. Specific foci are also taught separately to Chinese, such as cyber safety and cyber bullying, components of digital systems, applying protocols, and interactions and impacts of information systems. Our current range of technologies include desktop computers, laptops, iPads, BeeBots and electronic invention kits.
The Digital Technologies program at EPS aims to develop students’:
•Confidence and creativity in exploring digital solutions.
•Knowledge and understanding of digital systems.
•Application of computational thinking and problem solving.
•Understanding and application of protocols to support safe, ethical and respectful communication and collaboration online.
Inquiry as an approach to learning has been part of the curriculum at Elsternwick Primary school for several years. Inquiry teaching and learning emphasises the need for learners to be; curious, independent, self – aware and active, which in turn promotes higher order thinking and deep contextual understanding.
Teachers plan around the content of the Victorian Curriculum (History, Geography, Science, Health, Civics and Citizenship, Design, Creativity and Technology) using the E.P.S Through lines (Identity, Science and Technology, Citizenship and Social Responsibility and Environmental Sustainability) as conceptual organisers. A cycle of Inquiry is followed, where learning is scaffolded according to the needs of the students.
In 2017 the Parents Association provided money for EPS to invest in a Playpod. This holistic process works with the entire school community to change both the human and physical play environment transforming play at lunchtimes. Full training and mentoring was provided to staff to ensure that all risk is managed but that children learn in a vibrant and challenging way through play. The Playpod itself sits towards the back of the school near the neighbouring canal. Materials are delivered several times a year by the Playpod team and old items discarded. All items in the Pod are recycled and the children use their imaginations to play with them. The excitement and energy in the playground when the Pod is open is palpable.
The Learner Assets, skills and dispositions foundational to learning for life are embedded across the curriculum, meeting the General Capabilities disciplines within the Victorian Curriculum.
The five Learner Assets are:
- Self -Management
Inquiry teaching and learning emphasises the need for learners to be; curious, independent, self – aware and active, which in turn promotes higher order thinking and deep contextual understanding.
I-time, is all about the individual student, their passions, wonderings and asset development. This time provides the opportunity for each student to challenge and stretch their learning in the quest to discover what they need to build on, to become a SUCCESSFUL, INDEPENDENT LEARNER!
A key focus of ‘I-time’ / Discovery time is to have students motivated and passionate about their learning by having the opportunity to pursue things that interest them and spark curiosity, to acknowledge ‘student voice’.
Discovery time investigations for students in years Prep, One and Two are structured around negotiated contexts, student driven but criteria based. The teaching focus is on Asset (skill) and personal development (social, emotional, cognitive). You will often see students working and learning together in collaborative groups.
i-time investigations for students in years Three, Four, Five and Six provide opportunities for personalised inquiry which is student driven but negotiated with the teacher.
In Years 3 and 4 the emphasis is on developing independence, planning and research. In Years 5 and 6 the emphasis is on connecting to concepts and significant content.
The Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians and the National Statement on Asia Literacy in Australian Schools provide a clear statement on specific goals for our students. These include gaining foundational and in-depth knowledge, skills and understanding of the histories, geographies, societies, arts, literatures and languages of diverse countries of Asia and their engagement with Australia.
The National Curriculum outlines Asian Studies, Aboriginal Studies and Sustainability as priorities for all students.
The most exciting outcome has been the establishment of our sister-school partnership with Bo’ai Primary School in Changzhao, Jiangsu Province, China. As international partners we share professional learning experiences, teacher visits, teacher exchanges, whole school student interaction through various ICT opportunities and student visits/tours both from China and to China. EPS has signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation between Friendly Schools.
The English curriculum at EPS aims to ensure that students:
- learn to listen to, read, view, speak, write, create and reflect on increasingly complex and sophisticated spoken, written and multimodal texts across a growing range of contexts with accuracy, fluency and purpose
- appreciate, enjoy and use the English language in all its variations and develop a sense of its richness and power to evoke feelings, convey information, form ideas, facilitate interaction with others, entertain, persuade and argue
- understand how Standard Australian English works in its spoken and written forms and in combination with non-linguistic forms of communication to create meaning
- develop interest and skills in inquiring into the aesthetic aspects of texts, and develop an informed appreciation of literature.
Reading and Viewing involves students understanding, interpreting, critically analysing, reflecting upon, and enjoying written and visual, print and non-print texts. It encompasses reading and viewing a wide range of texts and media, including literary texts. Reading involves active engagement with texts and the development of knowledge about the relationship between them and the contexts in which they are created. It also involves the development of knowledge about a range of strategies for reading.
EPS has been fortunate to have professional development with renowned Literacy educational consultant Diane Snowball which lead to the development of classroom libraries in each classroom to accommodate a huge selection of texts and spaces creatively designed to engage all children as independent readers.
A range of teaching strategies are used within the daily Reading block which includes a focused mini lesson followed by the application of a skill taught during independent reading or in guided groups. Mini lessons may include shared reading experiences, read a-louds, modelled reading, interactive reading and focus teaching of comprehension strategies using a range of traditional and digital texts.
Teaching conferences with individual students are held regularly to set reading goals, discuss reading progress, provide on the spot teaching and check the range of text types read. Assessment using the Fountas and Pinnell Benchmarking system tracks the progress and growth of reading levels and comprehension skills. This data is used when planning to ensure students’ point of learning needs are the basis for construction of teaching sequences and that comprehension and fluency underpin classroom work.
Writing involves students in the active process of conceiving, planning, composing, editing and publishing a range of texts. Writing involves using appropriate language for particular purposes or occasions, both formal and informal, to express and represent ideas and experiences, and to reflect on these aspects. It involves the development of knowledge about strategies for writing and the conventions of Standard Australian English. Students develop a metalanguage to discuss language conventions and use.
The teaching of Writing at EPS is based on a range of research into best practice. The ‘6 + 1 Traits of Writing’ by Ruth Culham is the main text referenced by teachers and the pedagogical application of this work is embedded in teacher practice and supported through professional development sessions with writing consultant, Mardi Gorman from Melbourne Univeristy.
Writer’s Notebooks are also a feature in most year levels as a tool for students to gather, keep and develop Ideas. Teachers use ‘Mentor Texts’ to engage their students and support them to notice the author’s craft related to the focus lesson. Throughout their primary school years, EPS students progressively take more ownership and responsibility for their writing, making decisions about the style of their writing depending on its purpose and the intended audience.
Speaking and Listening refers to the various formal and informal ways oral language is used to convey and receive meaning. It involves the development and demonstration of knowledge about the appropriate oral language for particular audiences and occasions, including body language and voice. It also involves the development of active-listening strategies and an understanding of the conventions of different spoken texts.
Speaking and Listening are embedded in most classroom activities. As students’ progress through the school they learn to become active listeners, listening for particular purposes and to use a variety of strategies when engaging in group and class discussions. Students learn the skills of collaborating, listening for key points and using this information to carry out tasks. They learn to express their opinions and respectfully consider others’ opinions. Students begin to ask clarifying questions and challenge others’ ideas. They plan for and create detailed spoken texts, elaborating on key ideas for a range of purposes and audiences.
Elsternwick Primary School has become a showcase for Classroom Libraries because we firmly believe that active engagement with texts is the key to shaping young people into ‘readers’. Our desire to ensure our students are actively engaged readers is what has driven us, and continues to drive us, to create classroom libraries which invite, inspire and immerse our students in a diverse range of excellent reading materials.
The classroom library experience sits at the heart of the literacy program at Elsternwick Primary School. It means more than providing fabulous texts: it means building an environment which is enriched by the creation of carefully designed, attractively presented libraries. Student voice and ownership of classroom libraries is guaranteed as they contribute ideas to the library set up, sort and classify the books, and help to make the library a central feature of the classroom.
The EPS classroom library journey has been recognised by many schools with visits from Literacy groups to tour the libraries and talk to our teachers, students and leadership group. We have also been acknowledged by educational bodies including the BASTOW Institute of Educational Leadership.
Please enjoy this video, commissioned by the BASTOW Institute, of one of our classroom libraries, for inclusion in their Literacy suite of courses.
A tour of our Classroom Libraries from Prep to Year 6 can be found here. Please enjoy this virtual glimpse into our wonderful Classroom Libraries designed to invite, inspire and nurture our young readers.
The Mathematics curriculum at EPS aims to ensure that students:
- Develop useful mathematical and numeracy skills for everyday life, work and as active and critical citizens in a technological world
- See connections and apply mathematical concepts, skills and processes to pose and solve problems in mathematics and in other disciplines and contexts
- Acquire specialist knowledge and skills in mathematics that provide for further study in the discipline
- Appreciate mathematics as a discipline – its history, ideas, problems and applications, aesthetics and philosophy.
We adopt a positive growth mindset in Mathematics where all students are encouraged to recognise their effort and achievement in learning. All classes work with a set of research based Mathematics norms which help to develop a positive attitude towards learning. (Jo Boaler, Prof. of Mathematics Stanford University, ‘Mathematical Mindsets’, 2016).
Mathematics Classroom Norms
- Everyone can learn Mathematics to the highest levels
- Mistakes are valuable
- Depth is more important than speed
- Questions are really important
- Maths is about creativity and making sense
- Maths is about making connections and communicating your thinking
- Maths is about recognising our learning and growth not just performing
Number and Algebra are developed together, and each enriches the study of the other. Students apply number sense and strategies for counting and representing numbers. They explore the magnitude and properties of numbers. They apply a range of strategies for computation and understand the connections between operations. They recognise patterns and understand the concepts of variable and function. They build on their understanding of the number system to describe relationships and formulate generalisations. They recognise equivalence and solve equations and inequalities. They apply their number and algebra skills to conduct investigations, solve problems and communicate their reasoning.
Measurement and Geometry are presented together to emphasise their relationship to each other, enhancing their practical relevance. Students develop an increasingly sophisticated understanding of size, shape, relative position and movement of two-dimensional figures in the plane and three-dimensional objects in space. They investigate properties and apply their understanding of them to define, compare and construct figures and objects. They learn to develop geometric arguments. They make meaningful measurements of quantities, choosing appropriate metric units of measurement. They build an understanding of the connections between units and calculate derived measures such as area, speed and density.
Statistics and Probability develops initially in parallel, with the curriculum progressively building links between them. Students recognise and analyse data and draw inferences. They represent, summarise and interpret data and undertake purposeful investigations involving the collection and interpretation of data. Students recognise variation, assess likelihood and assign probabilities using experimental and theoretical approaches. They develop an increasingly sophisticated ability to critically evaluate chance and data concepts and make reasoned judgments and decisions, as well as building skills to critically evaluate statistical information and develop intuitions about data.