What is the importance of primary school and how do parents choose the best school for their child? Melbourne Girls Grammar Director of Early Learning and Junior Years, Kellie Morgan, answers some of the most common questions parents ask about primary school education.
1. What are the benefits of an independent private primary school education?
Identifying which primary school is the best fit for your child can seem challenging and the choices overwhelming. The atmosphere in each school may be different, but the benefit of the opportunity to choose a school that is right for your child is invaluable.
Families considering a private primary school education for their daughter often visit us having already carefully considered our educational philosophy. With this information in mind, when parents visit us for a tour, they enjoy witnessing first-hand the high-quality learning environments provided for our girls. Alongside this, a great deal of parents’ questions are answered and concerns addressed by merely observing our girls in action.
At Melbourne Girls Grammar, our Junior Years girls have the advantage of accessing resources from the wider school context. Specialist teachers in Languages, Science, the Arts, Music and Physical Education teach girls from Prep to Year 4. A broad co-curricular program is offered within our facilities, providing families the benefit of extended learning within the same location as the academic program. Being independent also means we can flexibly design and extend our curriculum, which we do by constantly reviewing what we offer and how to enhance this for our girls.
Additionally, residential boundaries and zones for entry to government primary schools can on occasion mean that families are left with limited choices of schools for their children based on their catchment area. Another benefit of an education at MGGS is that these restrictions do not apply, as any girl who fits the School values is eligible to attend our School.
2. What is the importance of primary school education, for the long-term development of children?
The early years of a child’s primary school education can shape their entire education experience. There is much discussion around the formalisation of education for young learners, and the impact of this on the long-term health and wellbeing of children.
International research on brain development and early learning environments demonstrates that it is integral for young children to be engaged in high-quality early childhood education programs if later academic success is to be achieved (Fleer, 2011; McCain, Mustard & Shanker, 2007; Shonkoff, 2011; Siraj-Blatchford, 2009). As such, at Melbourne Girls Grammar we have developed pedagogical practices and high-quality approaches to learning in the junior years, based on research and what is regarded as best practice.
More specifically, our curriculum for our Prep to Year 4 students includes rich child-centred, inquiry based learning experiences and intentional teaching to develop the learning required for future academic achievement. On a daily basis, each of our girls are engaged in programs designed by exceedingly qualified teachers.
In our ELC studios, as well as our Junior Years Learning Environments, our experienced teachers are supported to plan and deliver robust learning programs. The educators understand best practice for young children based on the principles of providing a quality primary school education.
3. What are the benefits of a primary school education at an all-girls school?
Current research into the effects of gender bias highlights that girls as young as four years old perceive themselves to be less powerful than boys, and that by the age of five, children are beginning to learn and embody gender stereotypes. At Melbourne Girls Grammar, our single-gender programs are designed to give girls the opportunity to develop and excel without gender stereotypes limiting their choices.
Studies have also shown that students from all-girls schools are more likely to exhibit higher career aspirations and motivations, worldly knowledge, academic results, as well as engagement in the learning process. Our girls are empowered to be themselves, be confident and speak up, allowing them to forge their own path and challenge the status quo.
In addition to the academic benefits of an all-girl education, American researcher Laura Hart (2015) found that all-girl classes provide non-academic benefits that help girls through the critical middle school years when they are struggling with social interactions relating to adolescence. Hart’s three-year study found that “student satisfaction with school was significantly higher for participants in the single-gender group” (p. 42).
Some additional noteworthy statistics from Laura Hart’s article include (pp. 42-43):
- 77.3% indicated that being in the all-girl classes had helped them “learn better”
- 70.6% said that behaviour in the all-girl classes was better than in mixed-gender classes
- 86.6% agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, “I enjoyed being in the single-gender classroom this year”
- 73.3% agreed or strongly agreed that they would recommend all-girl classes to new students.
Hart concluded that “a single-gender classroom environment where girls are comfortable and satisfied with their learning experience may ultimately prove to be more beneficial than any instructional strategy” (p. 44).
At Melbourne Girls Grammar, our approach to education is focused on the needs of each individual girl. We design learning environments that inspire girls and encourage them to be courageous and bold. Our students are the leaders of the future and we want every one of our girls to believe she has a voice and can make a tangible difference to the world.
Our youngest girls play and learn in the block area – they are the designers, architects and builders. In the sand pit they dig and build, using trucks and diggers to create roads and paths. Girls at our school excel in football, rowing, dance and drama, science and maths – whatever their interest may be, whatever they wonder about they can pursue.
Our brave and courageous girls grow up into amazing women. When our Old Grammarians’ reflect on their time at school they always tell us that they knew they could do anything because that’s what MGGS girls are like!
4. When does prep school start and what is the School’s approach to transition from early learning to primary school?
Many families begin thinking about their daughter starting school in Prep or perhaps in another year level well before the official school year commences. This is a significant moment for our girls and their families. It can be a time of great excitement, but also a time of potential challenge if it is not managed thoughtfully.
We consider each family’s smooth transition experience to be of utmost importance. As such, our approach to transition is designed to ensure our girls and families feel comfortable, so that everyone is relaxed and positive about this exciting new step.
It is important to note that at Melbourne Girls Grammar, transition does not cease once the girl has commenced the school year. Rather, starting with us is a process that begins in the year before commencing, and continues as girls experience their first days, weeks and months of school. There are several opportunities for incoming prep students to visit and spend time in our Learning Studios, meet their teachers and to make friends with other girls before the year begins.
Developing strong connections with others is a key component of our transition program. We understand that positive relationships help us to feel secure, and this inherent knowledge underpins our tailored approach to supporting each family to ensure this process is as smooth as possible.
5. What does the application process involve?
The application process differs from school to school, however at MGGS the process is as follows:
- Application: Parents submit an Online Application for Enrolment with required documentation to place their daughter on the list of applicants.
- Reconfirmation of Intention: Approximately two years prior to commencement the Enrolments Team will contact families to confirm their intent to proceed with the application.
- Interview: Families are invited to attend an enrolment interview with the Principal or her delegate (usually the Director of Programs).
- Acceptance of Offer: Upon receiving an offer for a place at the school, parents have 14 days to accept by completing and returning the Acceptance of Offer documentation with the non-refundable acceptance fee.
- Transition: Our transition program begins in the year before our girls commence school and is designed to ensure our girls and families feel comfortable for this exciting step.
If you have any further questions about our Junior Years program or the application process at Melbourne Girls Grammar please get in touch with the School.
To request a private campus tour or to join us on Wednesday 29 August for the next Junior Years Information Tour, please follow the below link.