Children at Blackfriars Priory School’s Early Learning Centre are benefitting from a vital head start to their school life.
Blackfriars’ ELC is a key part of the Prospect school, offering boys and girls, aged from 3, a unique opportunity to access specialist staff and facilities in the areas of music, art, drama, physical education, ICT, languages and sciences.
Acting director Jacqui Ballestrin said the collaboration between the ELC and the rest of the school made good sense.
“Our ELC students get to experience all the great things the wider school has to offer,” Mrs Ballestrin said.
“Whether that is science in the Secondary School science labs, music, art or drama, sport, or just a visit to the library, our children have access to specialist staff and facilities across Blackfriars. “It’s a pretty special thing to be able to offer our ELC boys and girls.”
A SMOOTHER TRANSITION
Mrs Ballestrin said the connection the ELC students had to the older Blackfriars students also made the eventual transition to school much easier.
“The ELC boys and girls have spent time with the students in the Primary School and the Secondary School,” she said.
“They have friends from the Primary School who look out for them and, even if their schooling journey takes them to another school, they have developed a real understanding of how to relate to, and work with, the older students.
“That first day of ‘big school’ is then far less daunting than it may otherwise be. It’s so important for a young person to have that positive transition to school.
“For those boys staying at Blackfriars, they are familiar with the campus, the classrooms and the teachers.”
Every ELC student is presented with a “Blackfriars Hound” toy, to symbolise their belonging in the Blackfriars family.
COLLABORATION IN ACTION
The ELC is not simply a pre-school on a school site – it is an integral part of the Blackfriars community with connections across the campus.
For example, as part of National Science Week, ELC students joined a Year 11 chemistry class.
The students – little and not-so-little – learnt about static electricity, with the help of a Van de Graaff generator and a special “wand”. They were also shown some colourful Bunsen burner flames and learnt how they related to fireworks.
Then there was the “Elephants’ Toothpaste” – a mixture of hydrogen peroxide, food colouring and dishwashing liquid that produced spectacular, volcanic-like results.
The ELC students also worked with the Year 11 boys to create colourful chromatography butterflies, which the younger students took home as a memory of their day.
“It’s great for our students to be able to be part of something like National Science Week in a secondary school environment like that,” Mrs Ballestrin said.
“It’s just one of the many ways the Blackfriars’ ELC helps children explore, investigate and discover through play while preparing them for ‘big school’ life.”
The ELC students visit the school library, have access to the oval and are part of whole-school events and celebrations.
A SPECIAL SPACE
Blackfriars’ Early Learning Centre is located in a spectacularly renovated church hall in the south-west corner of the school’s Prospect campus.
It has three learning spaces, each with a qualified teacher and a qualified education support officer.
With a broad curriculum developed using the Reggio Emilia approach, the children enjoy learning through play, investigation and exploration.
It offers programs for boys and girls, aged 3-5, including pre-school, early and late care and vacation care. The Federal Child Care Subsidy enables the ELC to offer reduced fees to families.
The ELC is also Inclusion Aware Centre certified, meaning it has consistent and considered thought about environments, resources and planning to support children and families with a diverse range of abilities, interests and backgrounds.
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