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Values Driven Learning

Powerful teaching approaches in the Wenona Junior School are leading to self-understanding, empathy, and long-lasting friendships.

As an International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (IBPYP) school, Wenona Junior School teachers typically launch their academic year with the unit, Who We Are. Through a combination of academic programing and playful interactions, it builds an understanding of personal identity, and an appreciation for the perspectives of others. The learning includes making sound decisions, becoming active global citizens, and showing compassion towards peers.

At the same time, students are being guided to build the ten attributes that make up the IBPYP learner profile. Those particularly relevant to learning priorities in the early part of the year include:

  • Open-mindedness: individuals who welcome and appreciate diverse perspectives and cultures.
  • Caring: being empathetic and compassionate and making a positive difference in the lives of others.
  • Communication: pupils who can express themselves effectively and listen carefully to others.
  • Reflective: thoughtful students who contemplate their actions and how they affect others.

Woven into lesson planning is the URSTRONG program, an internationally recognised friendship framework of practical activities focusing on building effective social and language skills and self-confidence.

In Year 2, this amalgamation produced the book The Class of Courage, an illustrated compilation of stories about personal challenges recounted by the students. Each page describes overcoming a difficult experience and how it led to greater strength and resilience. One girl describes the courage she needed to climb on stage and perform in a piano recital; another wrote about reaching the top of a climbing wall, despite disbelieving her capacity; others detailed being brave during a hospital visit, or when interacting with a difficult sibling.



In Year 4, the combination of Who We Are and URSTRONG has resulted in a Naming Wall – a display of student research into the history and meaning behind their first names. Further activities reflecting personal identity this term will culminate in each student’s very personal design of a ‘Shoecase’, a handmade shoe, or a collection of items and annotations, reflecting each individual’s personality and understanding of friendships. It is hoped that this activity will be shared with classes in Woodstock to augment the younger students’ growing understanding of friendship-building.



In Year 5, the students created a Wonder Wall - a Post-it-covered space reflecting student worries or concerns (such as upcoming NAPLAN or Mathematics tests), as a prompt for conversations about how to address personal stress in an effective way. "This unit of inquiry is an exploration into the nature of self, personal beliefs and values, and ways to develop mental, physical, and spiritual wellbeing," Year 5 teacher Mr Sjoerd van den Bosch said. "As the students learn about their own and other cultures, and their relationships with family, friends, and the broader community (both local and global), they are gaining an understanding about what connects us as humans."



Kindergarten students produced personal written and decorative works detailing the cultural and family influences that are shaping their identities. Presented to parents, grandparents, and guardians on International Women’s Day, they included information about inspiring family members along with the girls' dreams for the future, explored through a IBPYP learner profile lens.

By participating in the rigorous learning of the IBPYP units, embracing its learner profile attributes, and incorporating programs such as URSTRONG, young Wenonians are gaining a values-based character education, thriving in their academic and social lives, and heading towards more fulfilling futures.