Teaching Initiatives Program 2018

2017 Recipients

Congratulations to the following schools and preschools for their successful application in last year’s Teaching Initiatives Program.

General Curriculum  Indigenous Culture  Sustainability  Engage with Asia

General Curriculum

Coldstream Primary School

Engagement and upskilling through Robotics, Coding and STEM

The aim of this initiative is to introduce students in Foundation to Year 6 to robotics, coding and STEM. The program will focus on introducing robotics and coding lessons to beginners through exploration and play progressing to collaborative teaching and learning workshops to develop skills which can later be applied independently to small group projects involving programming simple robots and STEM activities. Through the grant, students will have access to a range of different robots to learn about coding and robotics, and develop an appreciation of the real world applications for STEM. The novelty and idea of using robots for learning will engage students in their learning, maximising the social capital of each student as they work in teams, develop their interpersonal, collaborative and communication skills, negotiate and apply problem solving, reasoning, logic and critical thinking to a range of learning situations. It is hoped that the learning experiences afforded by this grant will engage students and equip them with the skills and knowledge to provide them with an even pathway from the classroom to careers in the future with many foreseeable employment opportunities requiring skills in robotics, coding and STEM.

- Tracy Butler

Glen Iris Primary School

Maths in the Real World

Maths in the Real World focuses on the social dimension of mathematics individualising the problems so that the numeracy perspectives are of personal interest to each student. Students encounter problems and issues generated by their own lives such as choosing a mobile phone deal or working out the best deal for a skateboard. These inquiry projects will presented at a whole school forum.

- Robyn Floyd

Hawkesdale P12 College

STEM-tastic opportunities in SW Victoria

By providing professional STEM learning to teachers they develop the confidence to bring innovative practice into their classrooms. In addition to the knowledge and skills, teachers will have the materials and equipment necessary to implement STEM education in their classrooms. Students will be encouraged to research an authentic problem and have access to the materials required to plan, design, create, test, improve and communicate their solution.

- Britt Gow

Kinglake West Primary School

Navigating Social Relationships through Lego

At Kinglake West PS our aim is to ensure that all students are given opportunities to be engaged in areas of interest and build the social skills needed to ensure success in life. Our planned initiative is to run a lunchtime social skills program structured around Lego and technology. We aim to guide students through social interactions that involve team work, co-operation and sharing while helping them to develop their communication and fine motor skills. This program will run twice a week and will be open to all students, particularly those who find social situations and communication in the playground difficult. Our goal for this initiative is to ensure that students involved have an increased sense of engagement and curiosity in learning while helping to develop their communication skills.

- Paula East

Mernda Central College

Design Technology for Inside and Outside Chess

Student Voice is the lynchpin of this initiative. Our students have identified a need in their brand new school and have put together a solid proposal to address the issue. Their playground, whilst functional in design, does not yet have the personal touch. They would like to create a large scale Chess set for use outside during lunchtimes. This will draw on the work they are doing in Design and Digital Technologies and will provide a solid example of the work they are doing. They will bring the classroom to the real world. Once students have been tempted by this large chess set, they will then have the opportunity to hone their skills in the library with brand new Chess sets purchased thanks to the Bank. Who knows what heights our students may achieve once they participate in in-school tournaments, inter-school tournaments or virtual online games? We may even discover the next Grand Master!

- Joy Burlak

Mount Waverley Secondary College

Student Voice in Action

At Mount Waverley Secondary College we know that authentic and genuine student voice has the potential to improve learning outcomes for our students. We value what our students think and know that our students are the leaders of tomorrow - their ideas are going to shape the future for the next generation, and the next, so it is important that we provide opportunities for them to express their ideas and work with other students to put them into action. Student Voice in Action is a program that allows students to work together, and with staff, to improve the school, and the learning experience for all students at the college.

- Hayley Dureau

Overnewton Anglican Community College


Our Makerspace initiative is to engage Middle school students in Years 5 to 8 in critical and creative thinking by inspiring a community of makers. Students and teachers can come together to explore, brainstorm and create things. This will be a flexible and safe learning space where students can take risks, make mistakes and try again as part of the design process. They can accept design challenges that teach problem solving and creative thinking, walk in and tinker at fixed stations or partake in workshops to develop skills. It will also encourage student-initiated projects. The space will operate as a pilot program to give students and staff the opportunity to learn about the design process using traditional and emerging technologies with the guidance of experienced teaching staff. The intention is to develop Maker Student Leaders that will help prepare and run workshops or challenges in the following year as well as building teacher capacity to incorporate STEM into the curriculum.

- Lisa Newton

Parkdale Preschool

Play Based Learning Teaching Aids

To enhance their play-based learning philosophy, Parkdale Preschool with support from VTMB have invested in a number of on-site training aids that will help reinforce the sessional training programs conducted at the Kinder. By investing in equipment (bats, balls, skipping ropes and hoops) used in the externally offered Playball and Yoga programs, the children now have access to equipment which encourages interaction and independent learning during play. Play-based learning helps develop a child’s cognitive skills which is shown to enhance and strengthen attention, memory and thinking skills. Thanks to VTMB, we are broadening the play possibilities so that each child can participate in bouncing ball, catching, balancing, dodging, skipping, imaginative play, communication, cooperation and FUN (and much more)! Thankyou!

- Brett Clarke

Plenty Parklands Primary School

Living by our values

As a Quality school, our students are involved in identifying issues, establishing the core reasons, working through possible solutions, trialing suggestions, evaluating their effectiveness and then implementing the change/s. We call this our Plan, Do, Study, Act or PDSA cycle. Students and staff have noted concerns about problems that occur in the playground. It will be the role of the student group to undertake a PDSA which will clearly identify the problem, involve students across the school to collect feedback and concerns, generate ideas and suggestions, implement selected strategies over time, collect feedback across the school, modify or change the strategies and if effective, embed them in our school processes and approach. The benefit will be to the whole school community through establishing a safer and more inclusive and respectful playground. There will also be strong benefits for the students who lead this initiative in terms of developing their own personal and social capabilities.

- Claire McInerney

Rolling Hills Primary School

Lilydale District Schools Writers’ C(r)amp

Writers C(r)amp is a 24 hour residential writing program in which a group of 50 year 5, 6 and 7 students from the Lilydale Network of schools come together to write and write and share and write some more. Talented writers have been selected by a number of neighbourhood schools to come together as a community of writers. Working with a number of teachers and an 'author in residence' the students will draft and share a number of pieces before selecting one to be developed for publication. Work will be published in electronic form to enable access to a wide audience.

- Robyn English

Sunshine Special Developmental School

Sensory Kits

The Sensory Kit Project involves Teaching staff and Allied Health at Sunshine Special Developmental School working together to create individualised ‘Sensory Kits’. These kits are tailor made for students who require specialist tools and support to achieve self-regulation. The rationale is that by providing students with appropriate sensory regulation, they will be able to maintain or return to an appropriate level of alertness in order to respond appropriately across environments to the sensory stimuli present. As children learn to self-regulate, they are able to move from depending on others, to beginning to manage by themselves. This, in turn, will provide the students with optimum opportunities to engage in their learning, resulting in better student outcomes. The kits can travel with students, and provide the tools and support required for each student to achieve self-regulation and therefore be at their best for learning.

- Amy Fitzgerald

Thomastown West Kindergarten Inc

Our Science Discovery Stations

Recent professional study tours and explorations of the Reggio Emilia approach to learning have inspired the teachers and families to seek ways to enrich the children's daily learning environments through the immersion of science base activities and provocations. We are seeking support to build spaces that provide the children with numerous opportunities to explore the world around them using a range of learning lenses and group project investigations.

- Teresa Stella-Bagnara

Watsonia Primary School

Enriching Digital Learning through student leadership using Lego Mindstorm Robotics

In 2015 Watsonia Primary School our year 4 students won the Victorian State Government “Coding Challenge” which fully funded our grade 3-5 students to visit QUANTUM Maths and Technology Centre. This started the students love of coding. Students were hooked on using the online website ‘Scratch’ to bring their ideas to life through coding. In 2017 we plan to use our new dedicated Digital Learning Space to extend this learning through the use of robotics. Our new 2017 ICT student leadership team found out about using Lego Mindstorms to extend our learning and bridge the transition to year 7 through challenging experiences for our grade 5/6 students. This grant would enable the purchase of Lego Mindstorms starter kit and add ons to support and extend the students digital coding skills away from the computer screen and into the hands on Robotics field. As a small school our younger students easily see and share the products created in our seniors years. Through the purchase of the Lego Mindstorms equipment and sharing of the challenges our grade 5/6 students undertake, we envisage students across all year levels will be inspired to develop wider interest and awareness of coding and robotics. The impact will be seen throughout our community and through a continuation of our extension programs in years to come.

- Ingrid Noack

back to top

Indigenous Culture

Berringa Kindergarten

Our Country

Berringa Kindergarten is a small, community-supported rural kindergarten. The families in the local shire, particularly the children, have limited opportunities to experience and be educated about indigenous language, culture and customs. The “Our Country” Initiative aims to personally connect the children with the wider local indigenous community and also to open the children’s minds to indigenous culture through a Cultural Infusion ‘Kinder Dreaming’ incursion, the provision of classroom resources (including indigenous dolls, puzzles, puppets, books and musical instruments) and, with the assistance of indigenous locals, the creation of a gathering place in the kindergarten yard marked by Aboriginal story-line poles and a bush tucker garden.

- Kate Singline

Berwick Secondary College

Wominjeka to Berwick College

Berwick College creates a learning environment that respects, acknowledges and celebrates Indigenous culture through pedagogy and practice. The Bank First (Bank First) initiative will enable us to develop a permanent site within the college grounds that will include a learning stone where people can gather for a yarn, where authentic learning about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and culture can occur, a Bunjil nest with 1600 sticks hand painted by every student in the school will be displayed and an exhibition of contemporary art sharing the stories of our own indigenous students will be held. This initiative enables Berwick College to embed our commitment to our Indigenous students and creating a greater understanding about Koorie culture.

- Alison Birkett

Nagle Preschool

Supporting diversity in Australian kindergartens: Victorian Aboriginal Language and Culture at Nagle Preschool

Melbourne is known as a superdiverse area, and Nagle Preschool celebrates this diversity in many ways. We have recently incorporated a Mandarin language and culture programme into our kindergarten, and we now hope to run a concurrent initiative celebrating Indigenous Australian cultures and languages from our local Victorian region. This initiative is unique because it offers children the chance to view their world via different cultural lenses, and to know that there are many Indigenous Australian cultures and languages. It is crucial for us to include Indigenous Australian knowledge in our education programme at Nagle Preschool because it links with many concepts children are familiar with, for example the land (country) and native animals, but does so in a way that builds and expands current understanding. Finally, the initiative is a way for us to continue to promote diversity and cultural awareness in our programmes, and to ensure children receive numerous positive messages about this before transitioning to school.

- Debbie Loakes

St Joseph's Primary School

Math Garden - Aboriginal Art

The initiative is designed to give St. Joseph's Primary School a visual Indigenous feel. The idea is to mix Aboriginal culture and St. Joseph's Primary School culture into one as a painting. The painting will be based around our very own Math Garden which is located outside in the playground. The initiative will provide our students a chance to be immersed in Aboriginal culture through art and also give them a hands on visual arts learning experience with International renowned Aboriginal artist Dr. Treahna Hamm.

- Andrew Cook

St Peter Julian Eymard Primary School

Fire Carriers Student Action Team

At St Peter Julian Eymard we aim to give twelve Year Five students a chance to experience leadership by inviting them to be part of the FIRE Carrier Student Action Team. The FIRE carrier project is an initiative of the Aboriginal Catholic Ministry which seeks to keep the Reconciliation flame alight in schools, educating the wider community about Reconciliation, our shared history and culture. The students chosen to be FIRE Carriers, enter into a Covenant which includes the following elements: • Spirituality • Cultural Recognition and Awareness Practical Reconciliation and Justice. The selected students are actively involved in connecting authentic learning to wider community. All FIRE Carriers are asked to remember Michael McDaniel’s words: My invitation to everyone is that in your everyday power, in your work place with your regular authority, with your everyday resources, turn your mind occasionally to what you can do, for the benefit of all Aboriginal people. Prof Michael McDaniel, Wiradjuri Man

- Amy O'Connor

Winston Hills Preschool

Collaborative Creation of an Indigenous Artwork

In this project, a local indigenous Australian artist will be invited to our preschool to work with the children and educators to create an indigenous artwork. The artwork – a mural, mosaic, or sculpture (to be agreed with the artist) – will be designed by the artist and collaboratively created together with the children. Parents and families will be encouraged to also be involved through volunteering to help with the art-making process and discussing the initiative with their children. The intent of the project is that indigenous art becomes embedded in the children’s everyday environment, creating opportunities for current and future students to play, explore, experience and inquire about indigenous cultures and history. This initiative will support all five of the learning outcomes of the Early Years Learning Framework for Early Childhood Education. It will foster greater awareness of indigenous cultures for the children at our non-indigenous preschool.

- Kirsten Sadler

back to top


McAuley Champagnat Programme, Notre Dame College

Growing Hope Farm and Orchard

The Growing Hope Farm and Orchard is an integral element of our learning at Notre Dame College's McAuley Champagnat Programme (MCP). MCP is an innovative educational programme, designed to meet the educational needs of disengaged students in the Greater Shepparton region that are not being met by current education providers. Our holistic approach to educating young people is recognized as “cutting-edge” within the sector and we’re witnessing extraordinary success in seeing youth transform their lives from hopelessness to a future full of potential. The Growing Hope Farm and Orchard is an evolving project for our students to apply classroom learning and build life skills and increase their vocational training experiences. Therapeutic Horticulture is part of our curriculum because it:

  • Promotes physical and mental well-being
  • Can alleviate depression
  • Promotes confidence and self-esteem
  • Promotes physical stimulation
  • Gives students a greater awareness and understanding of the natural environment

- Keith Wrest

Noble Park Primary School


TechTeach aspires to be a student-led club, supported by passionate teachers and experienced and knowledgeable community mentors. It aims to increase student engagement, understandings and capacity in STEM and sustainability areas, practices and solutions through the participation of authentic learning activities. Students must work collaboratively and competitively to research, design, create and test the fastest possible solar powered boat to compete in the Victorian Model Solar Vehicle Challenge within the competition’s guidelines and timeline. The program requires set-up funding for tools and equipment, after which time the expectation will be to self-fund into the future. Science and sustainability are significant drivers in all activities and practices at Noble Park PS. Notwithstanding this, the school has never participated in the yearly VMSVC event. Let’s change this together!

- Jennie Ralph

Oatlands Primary School

Digital Sustainability

At Oatlands Primary School, we recognise that the digital revolution has impacted on all aspects of our human world. Along with increasing use of digital technologies, we are seeing the equally important need for sustainability of our natural environment. We have therefore worked to create a digitally sustainable strategy for our school that aims to minimise our ecological footprint, while harnessing our digital technology skills and capabilities. We aim to use our technological understandings to track and analyse our environmental impact and assist us in planning for sustainable practices in the future.

- Joanna Crowther

Sorrento Primary School

Your Place My Place

Your Place My Place is an art project which will investigate our relationship with the natural environment. Students in Year Five at Sorrento Primary School will work with Sculptor Lisa Roet and Ceramicist Sue Sanderson to conceptualise and create ceramic sculptures which will be incorporated into the new landscaping of the school. Artists and teachers will encourage students to compare the indigenous relationship to the land to ours. They will consider the remnants of the past left by the first Australians, for example, middens. They will contrast this with our modern use of the land and the rubbish we are leaving for future generations. The concept is to create two installations that reflect this difference. The 'modern midden' will represent artefacts from modern life that we discard.

- Lisa Weine

The Patch Primary School

The Patch Sensory Garden

The Patch Primary School and The Patch Early Learning Centre and Early Intervention Centre are embarking on a partnership that uses a garden to build positive relationships between children from three to twelve. By harnessing the beauty and interest provided by a well designed and constructed garden, our youngest kindergarten students will meet and work alongside some of our most senior primary school students. Together they will plant and nurture a new garden that will awaken their senses and establish connections that should endure to adulthood and beyond. The sensory garden will connect families, provide learning opportunities for the kinder, enhance the outdoor environment for school and kinder community to enjoy, embed gardening practices taught at The Patch primary school and provide a welcoming environment for all who come to our school and kinder. Our school is well known for its award winning landscapes and its commitment to working with its students and community to design and implement school gardens that enhance learning, develop resilience, improve biodiversity and embed sustainability practices.

- Michelle Rayner

back to top

Engage with Asia

Cobden Technical School

Access Indonesia Cart!

Cobden Technical School, in Victoria's south-west has a relatively new Indonesian language and culture school program. Students in Year 7 and 8 are required to study Indonesian as part of their whole curriculum and from Year 9 on the study of Indonesian is part of the elective program. There are Indonesian elective classes in Years 9 and 10 and in 2018 the first Year 11 VCE Indonesian class will run. In order to allow students to experience various aspects of Indonesian culture and lifestyle here in Australia the 'Access Indonesia Cart' concept was developed. This involves the design, creation and decoration of a trader's cart in the style of those commonly found in Indonesia. The cart will be fully functioning meaning it can be moved between locations, allowing it to be used at local events and taken to the local primary school occasionally. But for the majority of the year it will be based at Cobden Technical School in the Indonesian room. The cart will be stocked with theme based items allowing students to explore realia from Indonesia. For example for two weeks of a term the cart will have a variety of traditional clothes on it as the Year 10 students learn about clothing as part of their Year 10 Indonesian course. The other themes the cart will be set up with include Indonesian souvenirs; plastic fruit and vegetables common in Indonesia; bathroom, kitchen and laundry items; musical instruments; teen magazines and books; kids games and non-perishable food items. Students will also research aspects of life for the cart traders in Indonesia via an online program and project, learning about life for people living in Indonesia. Students will also be able to practice various language tasks with the use of the cart, including conversational practice. They might bargain with one another for the fruit and vegetables on the cart or ask about the souvenirs available. The 'Access Indonesia Cart' will be a valuable addition to the Indonesian program.

- Elizabeth Formby

Warranwood Primary School

The Essence of Asia

Warranwood Primary School’s Japanese garden will give the students a stronger connection to their studies of Japan. It will deepen their understanding of customary traditions, cultural values and how Japanese people find deep meaning and respect in the rhythm of each season. The establishment of the garden will enhance the learning experience for the students in many ways, including the Spring festival ‘Hanami’, Haiku poetry and how Japanese gardens are designed to provide a total sensory experience. It will promote peace and mindfulness as well as be a reminder of our sister school students in Mito, Japan.

- Steve Albon

back to top