Kids learn from growing

A school-wide approach to learning is ensuring students at St Gabriel’s Catholic Primary School Bexley know how to grow in the garden of life.

Students from Kindergarten to Year 6 received a plant to take home in the first week of the school year as a symbol of the school’s vision for learning.

Staff chose the acronym GROW – Growth mindset, Reflection, Ownership, and Welcoming learners to define their approach.

Principal Cathy Hodgins said the initiative was part of the IDEAS project developed by the University of Southern Queensland, which gives schools a tool to reflect on their past and set a future direction for the school community.

“This was launched after three years of staff and former principal Anne Melrose working together to create a vision for learning for the school, and that was to grow – to grow our hearts, our minds, our bodies and our faith,” Ms Hodgins said.

“The students are also setting goals, and have asked ‘How am I going to grow?’ ‘What am I going to work on this year?’

“The plants represent our beginning to the year, each of us coming together to grow and learn at St Gabriel’s Bexley. “It’s a way of framing for parents that we are looking at their child’s learning and growth in a very holistic way.

As a new principal coming in to the school, it’s wonderful to see that and take it further with the leadership team here in 2018.”

Assistant principal Lisa Bray said the GROW concept has grown organically with staff and students taking ownership of the school’s vision for learning.

“It’s a shared vision of what learning looks like at St Gabriel’s,” Mrs Bray said. “We want every child to come to school every day and grow in some way, whether it is their heart, mind or faith and body. We also want children to be confident in who they are as an individual. In this respect, the analogy of a garden works well.

“In a garden you can grow so many different things and there are many different elements that come together to make that garden work.

“Year 1 last year chose to represent themselves as butterflies, worms and bumblebees because they wanted to be the helpers in the garden, for other classes they wanted to be particular flowers or a cactus – we liked that it showed their individuality and helped them to understand that as individuals we have our own personal goals to work on.”

Reflection is another theme of the vision for learning, with all students encouraged to reflect on their goals and learning growth in journals this year.

The grandparents of current students who also attended the school wrote letters reflecting on their memories of their time at St Gabriel’s which also spoke to the garden theme.

Student grow to learn: Year 6 leaders Luke Gordon, Alexander D'Acunto and Gabrielle Burton, and Kindergarten students Amelia Gibbons and Thomas Nevin, with plants given to them to symbolise the school's GROW learning philosophy. Photo:Kitty Beale

Student grow to learn: Year 6 leaders Luke Gordon, Alexander D'Acunto and Gabrielle Burton, and Kindergarten students Amelia Gibbons and Thomas Nevin, with plants given to them to symbolise the school's GROW learning philosophy. Photo:Kitty Beale