Melbourne Montessori School (MMS) offers Victoria’s first independent Montessori secondary education program and is one of 14 Montessori senior schools in Australia that delivers authentic, relevant education. Class sizes are small, the rapport with teachers is deep and the lessons are linked with current issues; they reveal the results of human endeavour and empower students to work on clearly achievable projects.
The Montessori approach inspires a lifelong passion for learning and provides a well-rounded educational experience that enables students to develop to their full potential and equips them with the skills and knowledge they will need to thrive in a fast-changing, modern world.
After only five years, the school has already made its mark, being awarded the prestigious Innovative Schools 2019 Award – one of only 44 schools in Australia and a mere seven schools in Victoria to receive the award.
Built on a 45-year-old and highly successful Junior School, the MMS Senior School challenges the traditional methods of engaging teenagers and delivers the curriculum with a very different and extremely hands-on approach. All of the Australian curriculum is covered, but is taught through a series of real-world environments where students see the relevance of what they are learning.
“We will never have cricket pitches, rowing pavilions or performing arts centres, as our students learn in the world around us; engage with experts in the real world and turn their hand to serving the community. We want our students to see the significance of what they are learning and recognise how it is relevant today in their own lives,” says Principal Gay Wales.
The Senior School is small by design, creating and developing a sense of community and belonging. Students are taught problem-solving skills every day and each new concept they learn is linked and connected with their real lives. Learning spaces are welcoming and multi-age classes give each student the opportunity to learn from others and the flexibility to develop their personality at their own pace, both socially and intellectually.
Students regularly work at an inner-city farm where they have the chance to apply lessons learnt, particularly in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects. They learn the power of working side by side with peers, pulling together in teams; they help each other, learn collaboration, problem-solving and serve the wider farm community.
“Students need to be empowered to take on responsibility now, to tackle issues head on and learn what it is to bounce back after challenges,” adds Mrs Wales. “Our programs, such as the farm program, facilitate this and assist students to understand the world and their place within it.”
Developed by Dr Maria Montessori in 1906, Montessori education is centred around four groups of development – birth to six years, six to 12 years, 12 to 18 years and 18 to 24 years. The flexible learning environment and the structure of educational tasks are suited to the developmental level of each student.
Montessori secondary education engages adolescents, nurturing their creativity, curiosity and need for independence. It is education for the real world, in the real world.