The LPS has adapted a "Paideia" philosophy and modified it to suit our Australian context. "Paideia" is a Greek word which relates to the upbringing of a child and conveys the concept of a child's total education – intellectual, artistic, emotional, physical and social. It is a very democratic approach to teaching and learning that seeks to equip young people with all the social skills and knowledge they need to become caring and active citizens of the world.
The Paideia philosophy is founded upon one essential principle - that the same course of basic schooling should be provided to all students. This objective is based on the premise that what is common to all human beings is more fundamental than the ways in which they differ. We share a common humanity, personal dignity, human rights and aspirations.
This principle is not in conflict with our school's focus on the individual, but rather is supported by it. In terms of the context of a Paideia program, all students share in the same opportunities and experiences. However, this does not mean that every child will go through the programme at the same time or at the same pace.
The Paideia Method outlines three streams of teaching and learning by which its objectives can be best met. They are: Didactic instruction, Coaching, Socratic questioning.
Didactic instruction is the “chalk and talk” method of teaching and learning, where the teacher has a body of knowledge to convey and the students learn by listening. This form of instruction certainly has its place, although at The Launceston Preparatory School it will not always be to a class as a whole but also to smaller groups. In Australia today, researchers estimate that an average of approximately 70% of time at school is spent on this mode, under the Paideia philosophy, however, this proportion is drastically reduced to around 20% of schooling time. This is an aspect of Paideia strongly supported by the school.
Consistent with the Paideia method, we spend most of our time in Coaching, believing that children learn best by “doing”. This mode allows teaching to be most constructive and learning to be most lasting, because children are actually practising the skills they need under the eye of a coach, who will refine, support and re-teach each student as necessary. About 70% of our time is spent in this column of teaching and learning, which allows us most effectively focus on individual needs.
It is the third strand of the Paideia method the Socratic questioning that most clearly distinguishes it from others. Socrates used to teach the young men of Greece by “drawing out of them what they already knew” rather than by telling them things. So too do we encourage children to consider issues and develop values by exposing them to ideas and drawing from them their own opinions through carefully constructed questioning.
A Socratic strand runs through all our teaching, but the Socratic Seminar with the teacher facilitating the thought provoking question has the greatest capacity to transform the nature of the students because: A bond of mutual respect is created between all Each student must learn to think critically, understand ideas, solve problems, make decisions, resolve conflicts and apply their knowledge to the situation. Thus articulation, listening and critical thinking skills are improved.
Traditionally, schools have organised students into grades purely on the basis of children sharing the same age. However, we believe this to be rather arbitrary arrangement made on the basis of convenience rather than educational rationale. Students at the Launceston Preparatory school are organised into multi-age groupings. Whilst Kindergarten and Early Learning students are kept as a homogenous group (for their comfort and stability) all other children are grouped as 5-7 year olds, 7-9 year olds and 9-12 year olds. We have found this to have benefits in individual achievement but it also most effectively supports the self esteem of each child, promotes their interest in learning and focuses teaching and learning practices upon the particular needs of the students. Children in these groups are not streamed by ability, but more by social factors, such as who works well with whom.
The second most important organisational factor that distinguishes our school is our active maintenance of small class sizes. We believe that the optimum size for a class is 15-18 students and so that is the maximum range for the students in their multi-age groupings. Within that class size, however, children will be coached in even smaller groups according to their particular skill needs at the time and not necessarily confined by preconceived and often artificial idea of what a child of that age should be covering.
The third characteristic feature of our school that needs to be noted is that students do not stay in one room with one teacher throughout their day. Whilst we expect our staff to be generalists, it is a fact of life that all teachers have different strengths and we seek to exploit these.
Younger children move between two and three teachers during the day who broadly divide their expertise into sciences and the humanities. They may also enjoy some specially trained teachers for Music and Physical Education. The older the children, the more changes they have in the structure of their school day. An 11 year old, for example, may move from the teacher for literacy skills to another for Maths to another for the Arts and another for areas of musical study, Physical Education or LOTE.
We believe this approach has several benefits i.e; A variety of teachers stimulating the children to learn to get along with different people; physically moving between lessons and seeing the results of other children’s work in other rooms can be refreshing and stimulating. Thus facilitating the student’s transition to high-school. These three distinguishing organisational features of the Launceston Preparatory School are important to understand as the context for our implementation of the Paideia philosophy.
Each term, the staff decides upon a theme to act as an “umbrella” over the content and skills to be taught across the school. This is not a feature prescribed by the original developers of the Paideia programme, but one that we at The Launceston Preparatory School have found to be a valuable vehicle for achieving our objectives. An Australian-based theme is always selected once each year, pursuant to the Paideia philosophy that children need to know about their own country and its society if they are to become active and constructive citizens within it. For the other two terms each year, we try to vary the key learning area bases of the themes, encompassing opportunities for focusing on a range of humanities or science-based ideas. Each staff member then develops an approach to the theme that suits the age of the children and the curriculum areas they are teaching.
There are many reasons why we develop a thematic approach in this way. Foremost among these is the way it has proven to capture and sustain the interest of the children – and children learn best when they are interested! Their understanding of the complexities of a theme can be fostered further as they move from one room to another in the course of their day, sharing the work that other groups – perhaps of different ages – have covered on the same theme. The thematic approach also helps build a collegial atmosphere among staff, where resources and ideas are shared and different groups of children often bought together to learn ways that are more meaningful.
It also facilitates our teaching to an integrated and spiral curriculum. This is where subjects are linked together in our teaching and concepts and skills are periodically revisited, perhaps at a more sophisticated level, to consolidate and extend understanding.
As children are vertically grouped, they get to many opportunities during each lesson to tutor others. This strengthens the family approach we encourage and focuses teacher planning on the individual child or small group rather than on an assumption of grade-level ability. Cross-age tutoring allows needy children to “re-visit” stuff frequently without labels being attached, as they tutor another child. Children learn extremely well from other children and our older students provide excellent role-models for younger children. Children look forward to their tutoring sessions each week. For the tutors it provides a chance to explain learning situations to others. It encourages self-respect and confidence and gives each child a chance to be a leader. It also brings the children working together closer and gives everyone a sense of belonging as a school family. At some time during each week, all children apart from Kinders have an opportunity to tutor. We find the greatest benefits come when there is a considerable gap of years between groups.
The Paideia method explicitly regards “civics” or preparation for citizenship by knowledge and understanding of the institutions of this country, as one of its main objectives of basic schooling. It is interesting to note that “civics education” has become a priority of the federal Department of Education in recent years. To this end our children are explicitly taught about the history and growth of social institutions and the people’s role in those. But in addition, children at The Launceston Preparatory School are constantly provided with opportunities for the practice of good citizenship not just the theory. This is achieved through immersion in community activities – visiting homes for the elderly, assisting organisations in their charity work, sponsoring a child in Malawi and many other real-life experiences in our local community. The issues we explore in our Socratic seminars also build in our children a system of values and ethics and an empathy for others that will help them to become worthwhile citizens throughout their lives – articulate, caring, aware, interested and knowledgeable.
Teachers, as professional people, are always constantly evaluating and refining their craft. Our staff happily share ideas with in-service and out of school professional development. We encourage staff to make time to reflect on their teaching practices and to discuss these with other teachers. All staff work closely together for the betterment of the children. Our teachers and administrators are life-long learners, an important Paideia criterion. In every Paideia school the principal or principals should function as the principal teachers. This provides good role models and helps the principals remain child-focused and aware, not autocratic and distanced from education. Our school’s two Co-Principals spend about 70% of their time actually teaching classes and are responsible for their home groups and subject areas, like other teaching staff.
We believe that children coming to The Launceston Preparatory School should feel as though they are coming from one “home” to another! Thus our buildings are deliberately kept as inviting houses, maintaining the physical appeal of homes rather than institutions. The school grounds offer attractive, shady garden lawn areas for recreation. They incorporate several networks of equipment that have been specifically designed to develop children’s social and physical skills. We also believe in utilizing existing community resources rather than duplicating them. Our school is located in an area rich with marvellous facilities that we use regularly. These include:
1) Nearby sporting fields
3) Hart Street Tennis Centre
4) Hoblers Bridge netball courts
5) Various swimming centres
Facilities such as these augment our own and uphold our belief in the importance of immersing children in their local communities.
The Launceston Preparatory School is an incorporated body administered by its Association under standard rules and articles of association. Membership of the Association is open to all friends of the school comprising current and former parents, educators and supporters from the local community.
Governance and Administrative structure of The Launceston Preparatory School
The Association elects a Board of Management comprising a President, two Vice-Presidents, Treasurer, Secretary and four other members. The Board of Management provides governance and administration in accordance with the Statutory Rules of The Launceston Preparatory School, including financial accountability and policy development.
The Governance and Finance Committee is a committee primarily established to review the policies and procedures of the school and provide recommendations to the Board in accordance with the strategic objectives of The Launceston Preparatory School. Although the Board of Management as a whole is responsible for Governance, it is the view of The Launceston Preparatory School Inc. that a committee should be used to provide guidance regarding governance, finance and policy matters to the Board. The Board of Management is wholly responsible for such matters that are dealt with by the Governance and Finance Committee, which operates under the Board of Management's direction. Duties of this committee are to:
• develop policies and procedures as required
• oversee budget preparation for the coming year
• establish and monitor compliance with an internal control framework
• monitor the procedures in place to ensure that the school complies with statutory reporting and
other regulatory requirements
• ensure that a Code of Ethics is established and periodically reviewed
• initiate and handle special investigations which are either initiated by the Committee or requested
by the Board
• review reports on the adequacy of insurance coverage
• evaluate capital expenditure projects and financing requirements
• review the financial position and funding requirements at least annually
The Committee is comprised of at least three members of the Board of Management, one of whom is Chairman of the Committee (who will not be the Chairman of the Board). Members of the committee are appointed following each Annual General Meeting. The Co-Principals and the Business Manager are generally invited to attend meetings of the committee. The Governance and Finance Committee can invite participation from other organisations and individuals from time to time (for example, the appointed auditor). Meetings are held as and when required in order to fulfil the Committee’s duties but, as a minimum, twice per annum.
The Board appoints two Co-Principals who are given the responsibility of managing educational issues, students, staff and parent involvement. On behalf of the Board of Management, the Chairman conducts an annual performance review with the Co-Principals. The educational progress and direction of the school is primarily the Co-Principals’ domain. The Board of Management meets with the Co-Principals on a monthly basis receiving comprehensive reports on the day-to-day activities of the school, professional development of the staff, relevant issues from state and federal governments and briefings on policy reviews and curriculum updates.
The Treasurer in conjunction with the Business Manager presents to the Board of Management a monthly financial report detailing actual performance to budget and cash flow projection.
In conjunction with the Co-Principals and through its Governance and Finance Committee, the Board of Management has oversight of all issues relating to risk management and compliance with legal obligations.
The Board of Management has the responsibility of policy development and review. This is carried out in conjunction with the Co-Principals.
Staff supervision and leadership
The Co-Principals are responsible for supervision, development and leadership of all teaching and non-teaching staff. With the Co-Principals having a significant teaching load (approximately 70%), there is a strong collegial atmosphere among staff of the school. This has helped to create an environment in which members of both the teaching and non-teaching staff feel comfortable about approaching the Co-Principals for advice or assistance.
Staff meetings are conducted once each week and are attended by all full-time teachers and most part-time teachers. Non-teaching staff also attend when relevant items are programmed for discussion. Minutes of each staff meeting are maintained and are available for all teaching and non-teaching staff to read each week.
Information that comes to the school regarding professional learning opportunities is brought to the attention of the teaching and non-teaching staff as a whole. Where the Co-Principals or staff members individually have indicated a professional learning need or interest, the Co-Principals and staff members concerned actively seek out and discuss opportunities to meet this need. Much of the professional development of the staff is developed by the Co-Principals and conducted in-house as this can be tailor-made to specifically meet staff needs.
The Co-Principals meet with staff members annually on an individual basis to discuss professional development and to reflect on their teaching practice. The National Professional Standards for Teachers developed by AITSL (Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership) are used by all parties to guide reflection and discussion of teachers’ Professional Knowledge, Practice and Engagement.
The Board, in conjunction with the Treasurer, is responsible for the formation and approval of the annual budget. The Treasurer, supported by the Business Manager, produces the required financial reports, which are presented to the Board for approval on a monthly basis. The financial documents of The Launceston Preparatory School are audited annually by an external auditor.
Educational accountability and reporting
The Board charges the Co-Principals with the responsibility of curriculum development and required educational reporting. The specific processes for these aspects of the school’s operations are detailed elsewhere in this document. As an independent school receiving funds from the Tasmanian and Australian Governments, there are accountability requirements to each of these levels of government. The Co-Principals are responsible for the proper completion and due reporting of compliance with the required regulations.
Duty of care for students
The Co-Principals have the responsibility for the implementation, adherence to and administration of all policies, providing a safe and secure environment for students. They ensure that issues surrounding duty of care to students are regularly discussed with staff members, putting in place appropriate protocols for the daily supervision of children both in the classroom and school yard and on excursions outside the school. They also ensure that appropriate training in first aid, CPR and Bronze Medallion, asthma and anaphylaxis management, epi-pen administration and other health and safety related areas are provided and updated.
117-119 Elphin Rd, Newstead,
Launceston, TAS 7250, AU.
+61 (03) 6334 0234
+61 (03) 6334 9722
8.15 am - 4.30 pm
Monday to Friday
9.00 am - 1.00 pm
Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday
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mobile: 0457 171 728