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Questions we are often asked

Q: WHAT IS DIFFERENT ABOUT KOROWAL?

  • We are a small school catering for students from kindergarten through to HSC. We have chosen to remain small.
  • We are secular (i.e. not connected to any faith or religion). We do not teach scripture. Religions are studied in context – for example, Old Testament stories in upper primary, Aboriginal dreamtime stories in K/1/2, studies of religion as an HSC option. Our community includes families, students and teachers who are Buddhist, Hindu, Moslem, Christian, Jewish, agnostic and atheist.
  • We do not rank students against each other. We do not rush them to achieve measurable targets at an early age. We allow time for childhood. We aim to develop all learning skills in an integrated way. We balance learning and social skills.
  • We are genuinely independent – not connected to church or state or any organised educational movement.
  • We are governed by a democratically elected School Council containing equal numbers of parents and teachers.

Q: WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN KOROWAL, STEINER AND MONTESSORI SCHOOLS?

Similarities:

  • We draw from a similar group of parents and teachers who are interested in small schools offering an alternative to the traditional model.
  • Students from Steiner and Montessori schools generally adapt well to Korowal.
  • Montessori schools often use a multiple age group with a three-year age range.
  • Steiner education employs an interdisciplinary curriculum where formal and creative work are integrated.
  • Steiner education encourages a long-term relationship with the class teacher.
  • Steiner education emphasises rhythms and routines.

Differences:

  • Montessori emphasises self-directed individual activity. Korowal places more emphasis on the individual within the context of the group/ community.
  • Korowal provides for long-term teacher-student attachments, but does not focus on one teacher, as in the Steiner system. Our team teaching model provides stability and security because children develop attachments to several teachers. This structure allows children to benefit from the combined talents of different teachers, and provides consistency if a teacher is absent and when a teacher leaves the school.
  • It is rare for Steiner and Montessori schools to extend into high school.
  • Our governing structures include parents as well as teachers.
  • Both Steiner and Montessori derive from an overarching philosophy or text – anthroposophy and the writings of Maria Montessori. Education at Korowal works from some basic principles but allows for change in response to the reflection of the practitioners and to changing social circumstances.

Q: WHAT IS OUR APPROACH TO THE TEACHING OF READING?

  • Our approach is holistic – students learn literacy and numeracy skills in main lessons and focus studies and these are supplemented by specific skills classes in small groups.
  • We do not rush students to achieve literacy and numeracy targets at an early age.
  • We teach the foundations of reading in kindergarten. Kindergarten is about building foundations for all learning skills in a balanced way – sharing , listening, dexterity, creativity, gross motor skills, taking care of possessions and environment. Kindergarten is also a time for play.
  • Some of our students can read when they begin kindergarten. Some learn during the kindergarten year. Some learn later. If students have particular difficulties these are addressed. Later readers do not feel any sense of failure. Early readers are provided many opportunities for engaging and developing their skills.
  • We know that the age of beginning reading bears little or no relationship to later skill or interest in reading.

Q: WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF MULTIPLE AGED LEARNING GROUPS? 

  • In a school with a small number of students in each age group, multiple aged groups expand children’s social and learning horizons.
  • Learning with older and younger students is beneficial for students who have particular gifts and talents, as well as for those who have particular needs and learning difficulties. In our experience, children can’t be divided into “gifted and talented” and “special needs” groups.
  • Specific skills classes (eg. maths, writing) are taught in small single age groups.

Q: WHAT IS OUR APPROACH TO RANKING AND GRADING?

  • We do not rank students against each other (except when required to do so at HSC level). We ask all parents when enrolling to support us in this approach.
  • We do not engage in any grading in primary school or year 7. Some grading (but not ranking) begins in year 8.
  • We provide continuous opportunities for meaningful and constructive assessment and feedback.
  • We accept that our students’ Higher School certificate results will be publicly compared. We prepare our students for these examinations and are proud of their achievements.
  • We do teach towards the HSC exams. We do not teach towards NAPLAN tests.

Q: HOW DO WE USE COMPUTERS AND IT?

  • Access to computers is introduced in a limited fashion in classes 3 to 6 and expands throughout high school. We believe that there is no place for computers in our classrooms at an earlier age, as the abstraction inherent in working with computers does not support the strong foundation-building which we try to achieve at this stage. The introduction of the use of computers in primary school is timed to coincide with the need to manage increasing quantities of information as students move into high school.
  • Ethical aspects of computer usage are emphasised with students and incorporated in our IT systems and software choices.
  • High school students have access to computers in all subjects. We have a special purpose computer lab, plus many laptops. We use mac hardware and open source software.

Q: HOW DO OUR STUDENTS PERFORM IN HSC EXAMS?

  • Our results are consistently very good across the range of subjects – humanities, arts and sciences.
  • Because we are a small school there can be substantial variation from year to year.
  • Some students gain exceptional results in particular subjects and exceptional ATAR scores. Most students exceed their own goals.
  • A small school with committed, inspiring teachers is the ideal environment for students who have high academic aspirations, as well as for students who need support to remain at school.

Q: WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF PATHWAYS HSC? 

  • It lessens exam stress by equalising workload over two or more years.
  • The HSC can be taken part time up to 5 years. Students can enrol in single subjects
  • Students from all HSC years work together across age boundaries.
  • It prepares students for tertiary study by using a tertiary style assessment model.

Q: WHAT DO OUR STUDENTS DO WHEN THEY FINISH SCHOOL?

  • They are involved in a wide and varied range of post-school work / career/ life paths. eg. science, mathematics, dance, music, visual art, film, psychology, medicine, architecture, engineering, plumbing, building, mechanics, international relations, small business, teaching (school and university); studying; travelling; parenting. For details, go to our “alumni news” page on this website.
  • Our graduates have won prestigious art and writing awards; have represented Australia in athletics; and are involved in cutting edge scientific work on an international stage. 

Q: DOES KOROWAL HAVE SPORTS TEAMS?

  • Our school is too small to host teams that can compete regularly in single aged competitions. However, we field teams in many inter-school events throughout the year.
  • Many of our students play soccer, cricket, basketball and other sports with their local clubs.
  • Our primary school is part of the Live Life Well @ School program. This involves a session of outdoor physical activity and skills development each day, and the promotion of healthy eating.
  • Physical education, sport and outdoor education are integral aspects of our primary and high school curricula. Through these our students experience a wide variety of sports, games and physical challenges.
  • Our large school grounds allow for expansive and natural physical activity at recess and lunch times.