Teaching & Learning
Phillip Island Village School uses the Victorian Curriculum as the base of its academic program. The school’s Philosophy and Guiding Principles outline the broader framework in which teaching and learning occurs. The Village School Curriculum is a series of additional programs and elements integrated across all the features of school life. The school’s approach has been developed and refined at Koonwarra Village School. The two schools are separate entities, but staff and students regularly work together.
Village School Curriculum
Learning Contracts provide a framework for teaching and learning at PIVS. The intention of this program is to support children to become effective, independent learners.
Contracts include a range of core numeracy and literacy tasks that can be undertaken by each child independently. The Foundation level contracts are simple in nature and aim to develop children’s awareness of their ability to make choices which lead to success.
As the children’s skills develop, the complexity of the contract increases and they begin to share the decision making with their mentor about the order and timing of their work tasks (Guided Contracts). Over time, the level of guidance from the mentor reduces until children are working with a fully independent contract.
Learning Contracts integrate into a structured daily timetable which includes periods of small group direct instruction, whole group activities and community service tasks.
Executive Skills and Growth Mindset
Executive function and self-regulation skills provide critical supports for learning and development. Although we aren’t born with executive function skills, we are all born with the potential to develop them. The process is a progressive one that begins in infancy, continues into early adulthood, and is shaped by our experiences. Children build their skills through engagement in meaningful social interactions and enjoyable activities that draw on self-regulatory skills at increasingly demanding levels. Our Village School Curriculum has been intentionally structured to help develop a range of skills so the children become confident, independent learners and happy, productive people.
Growth Mindset is a simple idea discovered by world-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck in decades of research on achievement and success. Dr. Dweck identified two mindsets people can have: a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like intelligence or talent, are fixed traits, and that talent alone creates success, without effort. In a growth mindset, people believe their most basic abilities can be developed through practice and persistence. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. The language and actions we model at school are underpinned by a Growth Mindset approach.
Personal Learning Projects (PLPs)
PLPs are a series of sign-up classes in which students have the opportunity to learn new skills. Each cycle two PLPs are offered and students choose whether to participate. Each PLP runs for one session per week over the cycle and if the children are interested, the same PLP will be offered again, presenting similar skills at a more advanced level. The idea is that this taste of a new activity will inspire the children to investigate, practice and master their new skill over time.
Examples of past PLPs are: swimming / surfing, basket coiling, farm school, horseriding, glee club, Nature Kids, rock climbing, and cake decorating. Some of these have culminated in overnight or longer away from home adventures which allow the students to use their skills in a real-life context, e.g. Nature Kids camp.
Nature Journaling is the regular recording of observations, perceptions, and feelings about the natural world from first-hand experience. It can be done in a variety of ways, including written prose or poetry, drawing or painting, photographs or tape recordings. A nature journal primarily records these responses and reflections. Our intention for including nature journaling sessions in our program is to expose children to the value of the connection between people and their environment.
We have found that it also helps to develop stillness in the children as they tune in to the sounds, sights and smells in their natural environment.
PIVS has an established vegetable garden and students spend time each week working in the garden and kitchen. Food produced in our organic garden beds contributes to the snacks and lunch menu which are provided each day. Children are also involved in the food preparation, based on a regular roster system.
School Parliament is a regular forum where children and mentors discuss issues that relate to life at PIVS including school rules, social issues and ideas for PLPs. Decisions are made on the basis of discussion and consensus. The intention of this forum is to encourage children to become active participants in the development of the school program and culture and to provide opportunities to practice speaking in front of a group, listening to the ideas of others and identifying solutions to group needs.
Camps & Excursions
Throughout the year we run multiple camps, excursions and Out ‘n’ Abouts to support PLPs as well as to develop students’ independence, confidence and resilience. Our camps have been as diverse as the interests of the students and have included drama, science, nature and bushcraft.
An annual event that kicks-off each year is the larger community Family Camp (FAMP). All students, their parents and siblings and PIVS staff camp together for three days and participate in a mix of structured activities and informal opportunities for connection and community building.
Assessment and Reporting
Formal reporting is a requirement of all schools by the Commonwealth Government from Level 1 onwards and is considered an important element of the teaching and learning process. Foundation students receive a portfolio of their year at school and a personal letter from their Mentor which celebrates their achievements and personal strengths. In Levels 1 – 6, written reports relating to student academic progress are provided to parents in June and December, covering Literacy and Numeracy twice per year and other learning areas of the Victorian Curriculum once per year. Students also receive a personal letter from a Mentor which celebrates their personal achievements and relates to the Capabilities of the Victorian Curriculum.
These reports are accompanied by a parent/student/Mentor interview, offered to all families. Interviews are not compulsory but may be requested by either parents or Mentors. Usually, a number of Mentors who work with the child will attend the interview. These conversations are an opportunity to recognise and acknowledge academic as well as personal growth and to discuss any areas in which parents, students or mentors are concerned.
Parents who are concerned about any aspect of their child’s learning may request a meeting with the relevant Mentor or the Principal. Should an Individual Education Plan (IEP) be required (for students who are six or more months behind their expected level), parents are encouraged to participate in the development of the IEP and attend regular review meetings. If parents do not feel their child’s academic needs are being adequately addressed, they are required to follow the Concerns and Complaints Policy.
The Reporting Policy and Concerns and Complaints Policy are both available on the Info for Families page or hard copies are available from the office.
PIVS also participates in The National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) for students in Levels 3 and 5. We prepare all students for the tests but do so with a very low-key approach to minimize unnecessary stress for students. Parents will receive an official report with test results and the school will use the data to inform future teaching programs. Please speak with your child’s literacy or numeracy mentor if you are concerned about the results, or the Principal if you intend to withdraw your child from any of the tests.