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© Copyright 2017 by Patersonia Inc.

Contact Us

Tel: 0413 122 086

Email: admin@patersonia.org


Early and Primary Learning Centre

1 Gerrard Close




68 Rannoch Ave

Riverside TAS 7250

Guiding Principles

Emergent Curriculum

Emergent curriculum describes a curriculum that develops from exploring what is relevant, interesting and personally meaningful to the students themselves. It works with the natural inclinations and talents of students, without rigid ideas of outcome and what an “educated” child looks like.


In our framework, an emergent curriculum is balanced with the interdependent collaborative skills of our Reggio Emilia approach, such that students negotiate as a group what inquiry or project to undertake. Emergent curriculum is a philosophy of teaching that focuses on being responsive to children’s interests to create meaningful learning experiences. It can be practiced at any grade level. It prioritizes active participation, relationship building, flexible and adaptable methods, inquiry, and play based learning.


Curriculum is child-initiated, collaborative and responsive to the children’s needs. Knowledge of the children is the key to the program’s success. Emergent curriculum starts with the observation of the children for insight into their interests. The classroom typically consists of learning centres that expand and facilitate children’s learning and encourage independent learning skills. Emergent curriculum makes children’s learning and teacher’s thinking visible. At our core remains an unshakeable commitment to encouraging all students to progress at their own pace towards their own goals and to be respected as individuals in their own right.


We make a commitment to our students being nurtured and challenged in an atmosphere that inspires creativity and independent thinking in all areas of life and does not overtly or subtly, use competition or punishment to motivate through the fear of failure. As a school we put kindness, compassion and social relationships at the centre of all endeavours.​

Evidence Based Curriculum

An evidence based curriculum treats education as a science and makes decisions based on available scientific evidence. It is independent of educational theories, systems and personal philosophies. While proponents of specific approaches seek out evidence to support their views, advocates of evidence based teaching examine all the available research – and they let the evidence fall where it may. As new evidence emerges, advocates of evidence-based education readily let go of past assumptions and embrace new practices. We are not slavishly devoted to particular practices – even the ones we currently preach. Rather, we let ourselves be guided by ongoing research. If new research reveals a better way, we readily follow this new insight.


In the area of literacy, for example, we are guided by the knowledge that the explicit study of phonics and phonemic awareness is supported by ample evidence as achieving real results in literacy for the vast majority of students. We are inspired by the work of Dr Sally Shawitz at the Yale Center for Dyslexia and are guided by the recommendations of Learning Disabilities Australia.

Child Centred, Personalised Learning

Children are encouraged to realise their potential in all areas of development. We offer an individualised approach to education where children work at a level which is suitable to their current knowledge and needs. Children are challenged to think, to develop skills and to understand concepts through a child-focused approach to learning. Recognised principles of child development provide the foundation for the curriculum at Patersonia.


Children are introduced to new materials when their pattern of development determines that they are ready. Programs aim to progressively promote each child's level of skills and understanding and records are kept to facilitate this process. However there are not rigid age expectations as to when each child's growth will occur.


Children are seen to be central in the learning process. This is provided for through an activity-based approach to all areas. Mentors plan experiences, prepare appropriate materials and guide children in their learning. Through this process children develop independence in themselves and a confidence in their ability to learn.


We are inspired by our experience as parents and educators that each child is an individual that has their own unique set of requirements to maximise their learning potential.

Experiential Learning in Nature and Community

Experiential learning refers to acquiring knowledge through personal experiences. It is fun, engaging and effective. It is a natural way of learning that utilises all the senses. Experiential learning uses real-world applications to enable students to think critically about abstract concepts. This approach to learning is more than just experiencing something; structure and reflection are also essential. This type of learning requires students to think about thinking. At Patersonia we learn through experiencing many aspects of life and the world around us, we are connected to the real world through nature and the community.


We cultivate learning in natural settings, where we discover and observe what the world can teach us. Through the cycle of the seasons and the years, knowledge is built gradually and diversity, complexity and sustainability become part of a student’s innate understanding of the world as it once was for all humans.

A student’s learning environment has a significant impact on how they absorb information. The school’s distinctive model of place creates environments in which children can find spaces to play imaginatively - in the bush, a community garden, community libraries, museums and public spaces and on a wild variety of excursions. Students spend extensive time immersed in the outdoors, dialoguing with a diversity of people connected to these places, and exploring the meaning of places in the context of the broader community, its past and future, and local indigenous wisdom.


We are inspired by educators such as Richard Louv (richardlouv.com) and his books including “Last Child in the Woods” and Claire Warden (claire-warden.com).

Learning Through Play

“Play starts at birth and early childhood environments that promote play for all children and allow children to feel motivated, esteemed and appreciated are cause for celebration.” (Elspeth Harley 1999) Close observation of children participating in dramatic play shows they are using a wide range of cognitive skills as they plan and implement their play. These skills include divergent thinking, understanding concepts, problem solving, imagining, imitation, visual/spatial discrimination, anticipation, attending behaviours, planning, concentration, reasoning, linking cause and effect, taking the perspective of another, choice and use of resources, testing relationships and adapting responses, classifying and memory recall.

When children initiate and invent pretend play they often become totally absorbed, and can be observed demonstrating skills and behaviours which are more refined and advanced than at other times. The environment, the props and the social interactions serve as scaffolds whereby the child can progress to high levels of development and understanding. Through play experiences children develop self-motivation and the ability to make their own choices. They balance individual freedom with social co-operation, negotiation and responsibility for the welfare of others. They develop the ability to reflect and learn from their own mistakes with courage and confidence in themselves as learners. Play can be the perfect context for developing these life skills.

As educators we support the development of children’s play by:

  • allowing children time and space to play

  • providing resources and open ended materials that allow children opportunities to manipulate, explore, discover and practice

  • respecting and valuing children’s sense of ownership, autonomy and control of their own learning and play

  • encouraging children to pretend and develop their imaginative play

  • valuing play as a process not necessarily with any obvious outcome, but capable of one if the child so desires, and

  • reflecting on our observations in order to plan and further extend children’s play and development.

Inquiry Based Learning

Inquiry based learning can be defined as ‘seeking for truth, knowledge or understanding’ and is used in all facets and phases of life. Specific processes of inquiry have become central to knowledge building or truth seeking in a range of learning domains (e.g. scientific method) and professions (e.g. criminal investigations). While teachers may guide the inquiry to various degrees and set parameters for classroom inquiry, true inquiry is internally motivated.


The purpose of inquiry based education “is about curiosity, open-mindedness, and making connections between ideas that previously seemed unrelated, which requires being familiar with and receptive to knowledge in other fields than our own.” Andreas Schleicher, Director for Education and Skills, OECD


The following characteristics serve as hallmarks of inquiry based learning:

  • equal emphasis on process (communicating, reflecting, collaborating, analysing) and content

  • genuine curiosity, wonderment and questioning (by teachers AND students)

  • student ‘voice’ is evident

  • elements of the curriculum / learning are negotiated and student questions are taken seriously and addressed

  • prior knowledge is ascertained and built upon

  • significant concepts and essential questions are identified which unify knowledge and understandings

  • students are actively involved in constructing understanding through hands-on experiences, research, processing and communicating their understandings in various ways

  • learning takes place in a social context – students learn from each other, together with others, and from those outside of the classroom context

  • there is an assumption that understandings are temporal and are constantly reviewed and refined on the basis of new learning and questions

  • metacognition and depth of thought are valued and planned for

  • the meaning of ‘knowing’ shifts from remembering or repeating information to finding and using it.


We will cultivate a spirit of inquiry and are committed to exploring multiple pathways of learning and teaching that engage many different ways of knowing and forms of knowledge. Meaningful, authentic, locally-inspired, individual, group and community projects play an important part in this process.


We are inspired by educators such as Kath Murdoch and her book “The Power of Inquiry” kathmurdoch.com.au

Multi-age and Community Based Learning

We subscribe to the maxim that it takes a village to raise a child, and we enable students, through excursions and by inviting accomplished seniors to the school, to benefit from learning from many peoples. “Schools need to prepare students for a world in which many people need to collaborate with people of diverse cultural origins, and appreciate different ideas, perspectives, and values; a world in which people need to decide how to trust and collaborate across such differences; and a world in which their lives will be affected by issues that transcend national boundaries.” Andreas Schleicher, Director for Education and Skills, OECD


We balance the integration of elders into our learning community and educate students in a multi-age setting. Students learn in a process that begins with learning the basics from those slightly more socially, emotionally, and intellectually advanced than themselves, and ends with them mentoring younger students with the skills and knowledge they have learnt. In making multi-age groupings, we are taking inspiration from traditional village life, and also advances in neuroscience. The human mind evolved naturally to observe children at work who were slightly more advanced than the self, and to try to copy them.


We highly value participation by parents, grandparents, and other family members, in fact many members of the local community. We invite interested community members to become members of our association and to volunteer their time contributing in numerous and varied ways to the school. Working with Vulnerable People checks are required.

Neuroscience and Brain Based Learning

Brain-based learning refers to teaching methods, lesson designs, and programs that are based on the latest scientific research about how the brain learns, including such factors as cognitive development—how students learn differently as they age, grow, and mature socially, emotionally, and cognitively.


Brain-based learning is motivated by the general belief that learning can be accelerated and improved if educators base how and what they teach on the science of learning, rather than on past educational practices or assumptions about the learning process. For example, it was commonly believed that intelligence is a fixed characteristic that remains largely unchanged throughout a person’s life. However, recent discoveries in cognitive science have revealed that the human brain physically changes when it learns, and that after practicing certain skills it becomes increasingly easier to continue learning and improving those skills. This finding—that learning effectively improves brain functioning, resilience, and working intelligence—has potentially far-reaching implications for educational experiences.


We are inspired by researchers like Janet Nay Zadina and her book “Multiple Pathways to the Human Brain” and Dr. Dan Siegel and his books including “The Whole Brain Child”.

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