At Bellbrae children learn in a stimulating, supportive environment where they are actively involved in meaningful learning experiences. Children are given the opportunity to take responsibility for their own learning and behaviour and are encouraged to take risks, as they strive for excellence in a broad range of pursuits. Children are given the opportunity to interact with a diversity of children and adults within and beyond our community of learners.
Core focus of curriculum
Our curriculum focuses on nurturing critical thinking and innovative learning, which is highly evident with our students experiencing challenging tasks. Students have opportunities to challenge stereotypes and critically evaluate a range of texts. Bellbrae staff strive to design innovative ways for our students to succeed, either by using multiple technological devices or utilising our unique edible garden outdoor classroom. Within the classroom emphasis is placed on clear learning intentions, intellectually challenging tasks, comprehensive success criteria and a range of feedback. We provide a quality education program, which comprehensively and innovatively covers all Domains from the AUSVELS Curriculum. The development of Literacy and Numeracy are given highest priority, but in educating for life, we recognise and value the relevance and importance of a broadly based and well balanced curriculum. Performing Arts, Visual Arts, Science and History are just some of the other areas that form part of this comprehensive and integrated curriculum.
Beyond literacy and numeracy
Global Learning is the foundation for our formal LOTE (Indonesian) and ICT Introductory Program, which is directed specifically at our Foundation - Grade Two students. A regular and comprehensive fitness and sports program operates at Bellbrae. We participate in Athletics and Swimming sports, Cross-Country Events and regular interschool sports days, including netball, football, soccer, tennis and surfing. An intensive swimming program, incorporating surf and life saving skills for senior students, is also conducted each year. Children throughout the school have the opportunity to participate in a well-developed and very popular camping program, with our Senior students visiting Canberra each year.
At Bellbrae we use the Integrated Curriculum approach, because we believe that real learning occurs best when it is integrated around a theme. Within this structure, learning occurs readily because it is relevant, meaningful and ongoing. This framework is used to encourage inquiry learning which builds on children's understandings and questions. Co-operative learning activities used, recognise and build on children's strengths. This approach encourages a range of outcomes and allows children to pursue their own investigations.
We believe that the development of high level thinking skills impacts in a very positive way on behaviour, confidence, decision making, motivation, risk taking, independence and co-operative group behaviour. These attributes certainly help our students adapt very comfortably into life at Secondary School, but more importantly will equip them for life in an ever changing and challenging world.
Developmental Learning within a single-age structure, with multi-age opportunities
At Bellbrae we promote both multi and single-age grouping of children to facilitate real learning, however, actual classes follow a single year structure. Multi-age grouping is the deliberate mixing of age groups of more than one year, and forms the platform for our Peer Support Groups, Kidsmatter Days, and Buddy Program. Although it is generally practised in informal and extra curricula activities, some explicit learning is still experienced by students across broader age cohorts. Research indicates that children in multi-age settings have higher self-esteem and adapt more easily to social situations than those children not afforded the opportunity to have some of their learning in a multi-age environment. These findings are important because early childhood educators regard social competence and the ability to interact positively with others as an integral part of a child's development. The multi-aged learning environment at Bellbrae contributes significantly to the high standard of behaviour exhibited by our students. Children are regularly grouped in wider multi-age groupings (eg. Prep-6) for special days, sharing times, excursions and projects related to the current theme.
Single year level classroom structures
In all the 'formal' classrooms we have single-age grouping in an effort to minimise the broad social, emotional and intellectual developmental differences of our students. The single year grouping of students also aligns with the new Victorian and National Curriculum where each year level has a dedicated curriculum level. This is different to the previous VELS curriculum where one level aligned with two years of schooling.
We emphasise learning rather than teaching, the difference being that they learn from a variety of sources, of which the teacher is only one. The teacher is viewed as a facilitator of learning within the classroom. He/She recognises that not all children learn in the same way and attempts to provide learning experiences that cater for a variety of learning styles. Co-operative group learning within both single and multi-age settings, highlights individual strengths and talents and fosters the development of creative thinking and problem-solving strategies. This provides the opportunity for children to learn from one another. Within every classroom, children are encouraged to develop high level skills and while all learners are supported at their own level, high achievers are free to forge ahead. Gifted children thrive within this framework of learning. An early intervention program supports those children who may require extra assistance with their learning. We also provide excellent Integration Aide and visiting teacher support for our integrated children through the Program for Students with Disabilities.