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In a recent student survey completed in August 2023, an overwhelming majority of students in Years 3-12 answered that they often or almost always feel like they belong at Treetops. This feedback is gathered each year and taken into account by our staff and school board in planning and adjusting to better serve our developing community.

Cultivating an environment where students feel a sense of belonging is largely at the heart of that development and part of our intention at Treetops. It also plays an important and foundational role in the learning process.

“Fitting in is about assessing a situation and becoming who you need to be to be accepted. Belonging, on the other hand, doesn’t require us to change who we are; it requires us to be who we are.”

Brene Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection

Treetops’ unique environment, teaching style, and implementation of Montessori principles encourage a sense of belonging by promoting acceptance and encouragement of the individual. This is achieved through key elements such as smaller class sizes, freedom of movement within the classroom and a constructive or “discovery” model of teaching, where students learn concepts from working with materials, rather than by direct instruction. These methods are articulated through our ethos:

“Treetops holds at its core the value of each individual child as a learner who is at the centre of the learning process. As a community, we exist to facilitate the best possible educational outcomes through shaping our programmes in response to individual point of need.”

In encouraging more of this sense of belonging, students often visibly see their work come together, as seen in projects such as the still life art display and the origami flag piece for Reconciliation Week. These collaborative exercises allow students an opportunity to see their work as part of a larger whole and encourages them to see the value in both their individual and group efforts.

Activities, like our lunchtime activities, promote a sense of belonging and a real sense of community by encouraging students to nurture their interests whilst they interact with others outside of their cohort. Experiences such as these are not uncommon at Treetops and they assist in developing real life social and relational skills that our students carry right through and beyond the school environment.

Each of these elements of a Treetops education combined, give truth and meaning to our intention of ‘Preparing the individual to make a world of difference’ and support our students in growing and identifying as valuable, individual members of our society.

Tanika Dobosz