TREETOPS MONTESSORI SCHOOL
ABN 83 617 052 625
About Treetops Montessori School
Set on the banks of the Swan River, Perth (the capital of Western Australia) has approximately 1.5 million residents. It is a small city by international standards with many parks and public open spaces. Located between the ocean and the Swan River, much of the lifestyle is based around the outdoor life and the many aquatic activities available.
Darlington is located 18 km east of Perth in the Darling Ranges and is part of the South Ward of Mundaring Shire. It is one of the original villages in the Darling Range with over 3500 residents. It was founded in the 1880s with the opening of the Eastern Railway and the establishment of a vineyard. From here the village grew with the addition of orchards, guesthouses and weekenders. While the original railway has gone, the trail remains as a popular hiking and horse-riding path and the central village has a sports oval on which cricket and football are played, a skateboard facility and tennis courts. The oval is also the home of an annual arts and crafts event, the Darlington Arts Festival, held during early November. The Darlington Hall, also located in the central village, houses many activities, such as art exhibitions and yoga.
In Darlington, there are many opportunities to engage with the people, the environment, the animals and plants, through the seasons of the year. The native fauna co-habit with Darlington's residents, coming and going depending on their needs. Several species of marsupial reside, or move through the area, passing between the national parks flanking Darlington. These include Kangaroos, Bandicoots and smaller creatures. In winter the creeks and streams flow down through rocky gullies, forming cascades and pools, attracting ducks and providing habitats for fresh water crayfish and frogs. Several varieties of Wattle colour the hills in dazzling yellow over the cooler months. In spring, the region becomes a kaleidoscope of wildflowers, for which Western Australia is famous. In summer, there are endless blue skies and the birdlife converges on the gardens as winter running streams dry up. Large flocks of Rainbow Lorikeets shriek and swoop between the tallest gums in search of blossom and soft young seed. Autumn in Darlington is special, as the early settlers planted many of the world's most beautiful deciduous tree varieties. At this time of the year the big Black Cockatoos fly in to feast on the ripe green nuts of Marri Eucalypt and seeds of pine cones and Bobtail Skinks seek places under leaves to hibernate.
Many thanks to Marion Moss from the Darlington Review for her contribution to this information.
For more information about the Shire of Mundaring go to the Mundaring website on: www.mundaring.wa.gov.au
or the Mundaring Tourism Association website on: www.mundaringtourism.com.au
For more information about Darlington go to the Darlington Village website at darlingtonvillage.org
'When I walked into the classroom and saw how caring the director was with the children,
Sugar Gums (Playgroup)
From the moment of birth, the individual is bombarded by a myriad of sense perceptions. Montessori described this period of human development as the stage of the Unconscious Absorbent Mind. Through their senses, children discover their immediate world. In Sugar Gums, children are given the freedom to explore by touching, tasting, smelling, seeing and hearing. Parents, who attend Sugar Gums Playgroup with their children, one morning a week, learn that two of their most important responsibilities are to help the child towards independence and to set limits for them.
Fuchsia Gums (3 Year Old Programme)
To help children with the transition from Sugar Gums (which they attend with a parent) to Children's House, we have established a morning programme catering for 3 year olds. For many children this is the first big step towards independence. Children are introduced to the Montessori Curriculum in preparation for Children's House.
Coral & Scarlet Gums (Children's House)
Montessori described this period of human development as the stage of the Conscious Absorbent Mind. At this point in time the child's senses are more acute than they are at any other period in their life. While still absorbing impressions, the child is now becoming more active in the exploration of the environment and is attempting to perfect and refine certain skills. In this process the child is attempting to discover the order upon which the world around them is built.
In our Children's House, the children are provided with experiences in practical living; for example cooking and cleaning. (There is a kitchen area in which everything is scaled down to a size easily used by children). These real life activities develop confidence and manual dexterity and provide a link between what happens at school and at home.
Our Children's House also introduces children to a wide range of sensorial materials with which they explore the world; sound cylinders for shaking and matching, sandpaper tablets giving the experiences of rough, rougher, roughest, a tower of cubes to demonstrate volume. These, and other, materials help the child to develop a sound base for learning through the use of language and mathematical materials which are introduced later.
This 'learning by experience' teaches children to work independently and helps to develop a high degree of self-discipline as well as an enthusiasm for learning. To the child the Children's House is a world of independent discovery.
Golden & Silver Wattle (Lower Primary)
Montessori termed the second plane of development, the Intellectual Period. This is the time when the child has a huge appetite for knowledge. According to Montessori, the child is now on the threshold of reasoning. "Now they will occupy themselves with the how and why. They are beginning to become aware of the problems of cause and effect." They are also developing a moral sense.
Our Wattle classrooms provide children with a wide range of Montessori materials to help them explore and learn. The equipment is on shelves within easy reach of the children and is organised carefully into sections for Maths, Language, Geography, History, Zoology and so on. Once the child has been introduced to a particular piece of equipment by the teacher, and shown its purpose, the child is free to take it from the shelf and use it.
Social and personal development continues to be nurtured in Wattle. Children in this age-range often work in groups, enhancing leadership skills and social responsibility.
Karri (Upper Primary)
By the time children reach the age of nine, while still in the Intellect Period, they are moving away from the use of equipment, though Montessori materials are still available, towards a more abstract exploration of the world. There is a strong focus at this stage on their development as social beings.
In our Karri classrooms, children spend a lot of time carrying out their own research projects. Often this is done in groups with the children sharing responsibility. Computers are emphasised as research tools and the children have supervised access to the Internet. The range of research topics widens as the children become interested in moral and social issues: For example, the ethics of using animals for scientific experimentation, crime and punishment and conservation issues.
Jarrah (Middle School)
The adolescents in this age group are entering the first stage of Adulthood. This is a period of self-construction as the adolescent strives to find a sense of self and their place in the adult world.
The Middle School builds on the foundations which have been laid down in the earlier years. Adolescents are thinking and working more like adults. They are involved in planning their curriculum and have a say in decision making on issues which directly affect them. While having these freedoms, students are also given clear boundaries and are expected to behave responsibly, showing self discipline and respect for those around them and their environment.
It is important to remember that adolescence is a period of turmoil. Children respond to it in different ways; there can be a decrease in intellectual activity, loss of self confidence, rebellion, emotional outbursts or loss of powers of concentration. Adolescents at Treetops Montessori School belong to a community which offers support and understanding, acknowledging their individuality and changing needs in this vulnerable period of their development, while at the same time maintaining their academic progress.
Tuart (Secondary School)
The young people in Tuart are in the final phase of their development into adulthood. Here our aim is to construct an adult who will become a happy, well balanced and productive member of society.
The first year of their Tuart experience enables students to consolidate their previous learning and to develop further their skills in independent, critical thinking. Students attend work experience sessions and are encouraged to know themselves and to find their unique place within the world. These students also participate in the Theory of Knowledge unit, which provides them with a valuable insight into the nature of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme and assists them in deciding whether or not to take on the commitment of the Diploma for their final two years.
The IB Diploma Programme (DP) has emerged as the single truly international pre-university high school programme. It is generally recognised as an excellent educational system, and (contrary to popular perception) it is not just meant for elite students: any well motivated student capable of coping with a national pre-university programme should also be able to cope with the IB Diploma. The Diploma Programme has the strengths of a traditional and broad curriculum, but with three important additional features, Theory of Knowledge (TOK), Creativity, Action, Service (CAS) and an Extended Essay. For more information about the Diploma Programme visit the International Baccalaureate website at http://www.ibo.org.
Aside from their academic studies, Tuart students are important role models for the younger children at Treetops. They are encouraged to help and guide our younger children and to provide support for the teaching staff within the school.
Treetops Montessori School takes a holistic approach to the curriculum, recognising that children have different learning styles and a range of needs according to where they are in their development. The focus is very much on the child's individual journey towards adulthood.
The Montessori National Curriculum ensures that children develop good literacy and numeracy skills and that they are exposed to a range of learning areas such as art, music, drama, human science and natural science. The focus is on learning how to learn as distinct from what to learn. In this way Montessori children are encouraged to become self-directed life-long learners.
The Montessori system does not assume that all children progress at the same rate. Teaching is directed at the individual, not the class as a whole, and rather than expecting all children to reach the same standard at the same time it allows each member of a class to work at their individual capacity in a specific subject at a particular time. The system allows teachers to tailor learning programs to each child's stage and rate of development. In this way it is possible to direct most of these young people's volcanic energy into something meaningful. However, this doesn't mean that students can simply chose not to learn something if they so desire because the teachers are there to direct and the underlying premise is that children naturally want to learn so long as the information is presented in an interesting format. Indeed, discipline is fundamental to Montessori teaching. However, its implementation may appear different because, where traditional discipline is imposed, the Montessori rationale is that it needs to be self-generated if it is to be effective.
The Montessori system actually lays down clear behavioural and academic guidelines. It sets defined limits, because children need direction and constant reminders that life isn't just about doing what you want when you want. They are, in fact, inclined to be uneasy if allowed total freedom. Montessori children are encouraged to develop their own ideas and interactions within these limits, and the boundaries are changed as their knowledge and confidence increases.Montessori education is not competitive but rather rewards individual effort. How a child performs in terms of their individual ability is valued more highly than how that child scores in comparison with their peers. The idea is to instil in the student a sense of their intelligence, ability, value, importance and responsibility by imparting to the student the concept that the acquisition of knowledge is both fascinating and empowering and an end in itself, rather than merely a means of gaining approval. Thus the importance of being first or last doesn't arise. The Montessori graduate performs well in the "real" world because they are not conditioned to the doctrine of winners and losers, being instead naturally inclined to the delivery of the best achievable performance in a particular circumstance.
Our Reporting System
As Montessori philosophy does not endorse the ranking or comparative reporting of children's academic performance, Treetops' reporting is criterion based and each child is assessed as an individual. We report in terms of what each child has mastered or achieved, not in terms of where they rank amongst their peers. Further, while we are now required, by the Federal Government, to rank student achievement on a scale of 1 to 5, we do this in relation to the Curriculum Framework's Student Outcomes Statements and the expected outcome targets for a particular age range, not in relation to one another.
Treetops Montessori School conducts Benchmark Testing for children in the equivalent of Years Three, Five, Seven and Nine. It is compulsory for state schools and in Independent schools it is a condition required for the receipt of funding. The tests are administered in as Montessori a way as possible, encouraging the children to see it as a lesson rather than a test and de-mystifying the process as much as possible. Every effort is made to help the children feel comfortable and confident while participating in the process. Results of the tests are sent to the school for our records and for parent information late in Term Four.
Written reports are provided twice a year and each child's progress is discussed with parents yearly at a Parent Interview. In addition, parents are always welcome to bring any area of concern to the attention of staff. Interviews between parents and the Principal are conducted as required.
Parents' Day is held once a year and this give parents a chance to see their child in the class situation. It is also a great opportunity to ask questions about how the classroom operates.
Twice a year the whole school community gathers at a Kunsido (Gathering). Kunsidos are an opportunity for our children to show their parents, and each other, things that they have done during the term. They are not a performance but a fun gathering for the whole school and a great opportunity for parents to see the students as a group.
At the end of each year we hold a Family Gathering. This is a reflection and celebration of the learning that the children have achieved during the year (much like a big Kunsido). It is also an opportunity for our community to give thanks to the staff and Board for their hard work and dedication to our children. We hold the event at night (rather than during the day, as we do with Parent Days and Kunsidos) to give those working parents and extended family members, who are unable to attend many of our daytime events, the opportunity to join with us, at least once during the year, to celebrate our unique community. It also provides an opportunity for families and staff to socialise and enjoy each others' company surrounded by our beautiful tranquil environment before the rush of the "Holiday Season".
Kath Lloyd: Chair
Kym Kaptein: Treasurer
Georgia Bolden-Strestik: Vice Chair
Alina Behan: Secretary (Co-opted member)
Norman Megahey: Principal
Lynda Feodorovs: Staff Representative
Tanya Payne (Co-opted member)
The School Board, elected at the Annual General Meeting, is responsible for strategic planning and the governance of the school. The School Board has four office bearers (Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson, Treasurer and Secretary) who are chosen at the first meeting of the new Board, while other members of the Board are responsible for other specific tasks. The Principal automatically has a place on the Board and is joined by a staff representative, who is chosen by staff members. There is also provision for co-opted members and community members to be selected. Board meetings are held once a month during the school year. Minutes are taken by the Board Secretary and are available in the office, after they have been ratified by the Board.
Parents/Guardians of children enrolled at Treetops Montessori School and staff automatically become members of The Beenong School Association Inc., which is registered with The Department of Education and Training. This membership has no financial or legal obligations, outside the payment of fees and levies. The school is required to run according to the guidelines set out in The Beenong School Association's Constitution (a copy of which is available below).
All members of The Beenong School Association have voting rights and parents and staff are strongly encouraged to attend the AGM, usually held in March/April. Ample notice is given of the date designated for the AGM and nomination forms for candidates are available from the office. It is a requirement of anyone seeking election to be prepared to remain on the board for a minimum of two years to ensure continuity and a certain level of experience among Board members.
Our Vision is that Treetops is
Our Strategic Plan
We provide an environment that supports a broad, harmonious and thorough education and maintains Treetops' unique, positive, caring and encouraging energy, which is shared and appreciated by the wider community.
The Strategic Plan began in November, 2002 with a Strategic Planning Committee which created the Key Result Areas and the first draft of the plan. In February, 2003 Treetops held a Strategic Planning Day on which a group of parents and staff created the goals, objectives and tasks. The document created on that day was the first working draft of the Strategic Plan. From that point, the Strategic Planning Working Group created the final draft of the plan.
Treetops Strategic Plan continues to grow and evolve with us, changing to meet our needs and leading us towards our Vision. Download a complete copy of our Strategic Plan.
In 1989, a group of parents from Guildford Montessori School established Treetops Montessori School with eleven children, only two of whom were full time, and two teachers. These numbers grew over the first year and in 1990 our Children's House, built by the parents from rammed earth, was completed. Soon there were thirty 3-5 yr olds in Children's House and we had added a Playgroup. With further growth we became a three-part school - Children's House (3-6 year olds), Lower Primary (6-9 year olds) and Upper Primary (9-12 year olds).
Treetops struggled financially in the early years. However, the school community rallied and as parents and teachers worked together on the buildings, carrying out maintenance jobs and so on, a strong sense of purpose and cooperation strengthened the community. Today, Treetops community is strong and the school is on a sound financial footing.
Renovations and improvements to grounds and facilities constituted the main spending during the 1990s. By 1995, Treetops had grown to the extent that it required eight teaching staff and was in desperate need of a new primary classroom. In 1997 a new primary building, funded by a generous Federal Government grant, was opened by the local Federal member of parliament, Judy Moylan.
In 1999, following the resignation of the Principal, Mechtild Moes, the school employed a new Principal, Carol Brands.
Two years later, as a consequence of parent demand, Treetops was granted authorisation to begin offering a Middle School programme. The old Darlington Masonic Lodge hall, which was situated on an adjoining block, was purchased and renovated to accommodate the first Middle School class, which comprised twelve students. With assistance through the State government's Work for the Dole, a timber walkway was constructed linking the main campus with the Hall.
At the end of 2001, Treetops received a grant of $150,000 towards the construction of a new, purpose built, Lower Primary classroom. The new building, situated on the hill overlooking the rest of the school, was completed early in 2004. Its completion made way for the Middle School to be relocated to the main school campus, the Middle School students moving into the classroom vacated by the Lower Primary children.
Treetops continued to flourish and by 2002 we had 119 children, enrolled from 89 families. Teaching staff had also grown in numbers to 20, including aides and specialists. The school also had a part-time Maintenance Person, a full-time Administrator and a part-time Finance Administrator as well as a consultant Bursar and a consultant Literacy Specialist.
By this stage it was considered that to allow Treetops' children the opportunity of a full K-12 Montessori education, the school would need to offer Year 11 and 12. The next few years took the school on a journey towards introducing the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme. In 2005, the school was approved by the WA Education Authorities to offer education to Year 11 and 12 students. The following year we obtained International Baccalaureate authorisation. Treetops Montessori School is now an IB World School and is one of only 3 schools in Western Australia authorised to offer the IB Diploma Programme.
At the end of Term 1 2008, Carol BRands resigned after a long principalship during which Treetops flourished. Under the new Principal, Norman Megahey, Treetops has continued to develop.
In 2011 the school registered its first IBDP candidates for the November examination session. Both students were awarded the Diploma. Also in 2011, a new purpose designed secondary building was constructed and the students moved in on the first day of the 2012 school year.
From little things do big things grow!
| 12 Beenong Road (PO Box 59), Darlington WA 6070 |
Phone: (+61)8 9299 6725 Fax: (+61)8 9299 6724