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the ruyton reporter

Making a meaningful

difference – the Year 4


When you first walk down the winding path leading to

South House, you enter a unique place of learning. You are

immediately struck by its thriving garden, including

garden beds planted with vegetables in season, the herb

garden that borders the multi-purpose verandah and the

indigenous garden surrounding the pond. All of this

provides a wealth of learning experiences for the Year 4

girls. It is out here that the girls roll up their sleeves and

get their hands dirty, as they work co-operatively to plant

seedlings and nurture these to the edible stage. The

‘ewws’ and ‘shrieks’ as someone comes upon a snail or a

spider soon dissipate, as a meaningful connection and

appreciation of what the garden gives us is realised. Our

garden produce inevitably ends up in the South House

kitchen or as part of delicious pizzas cooked to perfection

using our recently-completed wood-fired pizza oven. The

Year 4 Mathematics and Literacy programmes are

enriched by the many learning opportunities to make

practical connections with our cooking and gardening

explorations. This is all before you have even entered

South House.

Once inside South House you quickly realise it is different

to any other learning environment. It is a house, and the

‘home’ belonging to the Year 4 girls and their teachers.

The girls are encouraged to live and learn collaboratively.

Central to the Year 4 programme, in this unique

environment, is the concept of community. Girls are

encouraged to step beyond their own world to consider

the needs and perspectives of others both within South

House and out in the broader community. Working

together in the spirit of giving to make a meaningful

difference underpins the Year 4 learning and teaching

programme. This comes about through inquiry, project-

based learning and collaborative, philosophical discussions

utilising rich literature as a basis. The girls are encouraged

to become mindful and in tune with their thoughts,

feelings and actions and how these affect them as

learners and in social situations. The challenge is to

become less reactive and increasingly reflective and


Teaching and learning in South House inspires creativity,

critical thinking, risk-taking and decision-making, while

seamlessly integrating digital learning. The Year 4 girls are

challenged to attain personal learning goals and personal

excellence in all areas of the curriculum.

As teachers, it is immensely rewarding to watch hearts

and minds expanding and growing as the Year 4 girls

begin to make real links between abstract ideas in their

learning and then connect these with real people, real

situations and real issues. It is gratifying to witness our

girls making a meaningful difference in their world.

Ms Tanya Cockwill and Ms Cate Hallpike,

Year 4

Classroom Teachers

From the girls …

Jessica P …

‘Learning in South House is fun

because we feel free. We love tending to our

garden and watching it grow. I have loved

discovering our neighbours in the pond, the

Pobblebonk Frogs. We learn in the same room

and collaborate. I love it when we break up

into groups for our learning.’

Jasmine D …

‘In South House we are learning

to understand and share our feelings. We use

the emotional thermometer, and explore

Mindfulness. We are learning how to be

in the flow.’

Adelaide N …

‘South House is different because

we have a garden, kitchen and a pizza oven. I

love getting my hands dirty in the garden and I

also love using the vegetables we grow to cook

with in the kitchen. I love South House.’

Lotus D-H …

‘South House is different because

we change seats every day and there is more

collaboration and sharing. There are no walls

between the two classes, so we are together

as one. We are very grateful for our beautiful

garden. I love South House.’

Aspen T …

‘Learning in South House is quite

different. We have a lot more independence.

We use the garden in our learning. We even

use it for Maths!’

Noraan E …

‘In South House we learn a lot

together. Everyone gets a say and we piggy

back on each other’s ideas. We have a garden

and we get our hands dirty. South House is a

home. We have an upstairs, a kitchen, a vegie

and flower garden and a big tree in our


Nishka K …

‘We work in a cosy house,

where we sometimes work independently

and quietly. This helps us to be more in the

flow of our learning and it improves our

listening skills.’

A Unique Place of Learning