A group of our principals recently visited Silverton Primary School in Victoria. Silverton is one of many inspiring examples of where there are clear and continuous connections between people, environment and curriculum. And where each learning space has an unambiguous purpose. As the principal Tony Bryant says, “it has taken a ten year journey of learning together to become an overnight success!”
As you will have read on my blog, designing fit for purpose learning spaces is a focus for many our principals as they re-think schooling for today’s world.
This is a reflection from one of our principals on the Silverton model:
I must say I was impressed by the way the school (Silverton) staff encouraged us to explore for ourselves. We were given the opportunity to discuss with staff and students, take notes, photos etc as well as clarify observations and ask questions of the leadership team. Silverton was a great advertisement for ‘learning can be both purposeful and fun’. The students were involved in reflection, and goal setting to plan what they wanted to learn.
The outdoors was used in an amazing and versatile way – there was a stage area, a pond, a cubby house and chalk boards, ‘café’ style furniture at the school canteen and areas dedicated to water and sand play.
Students interacted with technology (laptops, software, digital cameras, recording devices etc) in a relaxed and competent manner. The school used the community creatively to support learning eg employing a local artist or dance teacher to teach specific skills.
Silverton was testimony to learning happening within a more relaxed and flexible space which enabled opportunity for formal, informal, presentation and play.
There are many “Silvertons” across Australia and we can learn so much because they have pioneered much of the territory. What strikes me is the generosity of staff to share their story with colleagues in such open and honest ways.
This is the foundation for creating powerful professional dialogue and establishing connected learning communities to both support and challenge each other. A great byproduct of this openness is the celebration of and for learning.
We are each committed in our own way to doing the best for the students. I think Tony and his staff are on the mark, it’s not the end but the journey that has got them to where they are now!