There has been a school at 12 Beenong Road for 50 years now. At the beginning of its history the school was very alternative – students determining how their day would be spent, with ‘ministers’ responsible for the various aspects of the education and decisions made in a student ‘parliament’. A somewhat “Lord of the Flies” existence but without the brutality! Many of these ex-students became high level decision makers – when I caught up with them while researching the history of the school I found, for example, successful business people, artists and architects, board members of high fee schools making significant changes, a famous film and show animal trainer, to mention but a few.
By 1989 the school was suffering financial hardship and a group of parents who had determined that they wanted to have a Montessori education for their children, took it on. Those early parents, teachers and board members poured their lives into the school, as many have done ever since. They built buildings, created playgrounds, made resources, studied educational philosophy. The earliest handful of teachers even went for periods of time without pay in order to move the school along.
What a great investment of time, energy and resources it has proved to be! The past school community members who came down to look around the school on our ‘Museum’ day last year were thrilled with what it has become. Many were wowed by the grounds, new buildings and classroom resources, but, importantly commented that the warmth, mutual respect and student driven excitement in learning are still so evident.
So what has it become? Treetops is a Montessori and International Baccalaureate (IB) School offering an education from Pre-Kindy to Year 12. In Years 11 and 12 our students can opt to study the WACE General courses for an immediate careers pathway or the academic IB Diploma for university entrance.
The IB diploma gives access to World, Eastern States and Western Australian Universities, with an automatic conversion to an ATAR – it is thus well recognised in the broad academic community and this year our students received automatic early entry into their chosen courses at UWA. Classes are small and choices are great – we can usually offer, through a mix of teacher and on-line courses, almost whatever subjects students wish to study in their final years.
The Montessori element, which is the foundation of the early years’ courses and inspires the methodologies throughout the school, contains the key elements of child-centredness. “Teach me to do it myself” summarises the approach, with independence and self-motivation still a key measure of success. “The Prepared Environment” ensures that in the earliest stages students make choices from carefully teacher-chosen and taught, structured activities that move their learning forward step by step. In later years it means that students are able to work within the Western Australia curriculum at the level and pace at which they will best learn.
Our Secondary syllabuses require a whole class approach, and standardised testing shows that our results are comparable with same age peers Australia wide, but our point of difference is the individualising of activities, recognising what assistance our students need, and giving it. If our students still need to hone their basic reading skills in Secondary, we provide intervention for that, if students need to be extended into Mathematics courses beyond their year level, we provide that too.
Most importantly, Treetops is still a school that students love to come to and thrive at! To learn more about our history, come to my talk at the Darlington History Group meeting on Wednesday 11th November at 7.30pm. To learn more about the school, contact us on 9299 6725.
Student Learning Coordinator