Doreen Primary School is a small semi- rural primary school set amongst farmland located in Melbourne‟s northern green wedge. Its location is adjacent to the Northern Growth Corridor, currently experiencing massive influxes of population. The school is now drawing students from both rural and outer suburban settings. It is seen as an alternative to the many government and private schools in its vicinity, as its enrolments distinguish it as a small school in comparison to its neighbours. Geographically, it is surrounded by both independent and government schools that actively compete for enrolments, so it must provide an educational setting that is acknowledged as effective in all areas. Logistically, parents must take an active role in getting children to and from school, as there is no public transport system. Recently a footpath to the nearby major intersection of Yan Yean Rd. and Doctors Gully Rd. has opened up the opportunity for children to walk, ride or scooter part of the way to school. Most travel 2-3km to school, but some as much as 15km.
In the last decade, the school‟s enrolments have more than doubled, and the school has been successful in obtaining an enrolment ceiling of 150 students. In 2020 the enrolment was 156, about the same as projections. General consensus in the school community is that enrolments should be kept as low as possible, so as to maintain our Small School culture. Children are often enrolled at Doreen as parents are concerned about their child being lost in a large school system, and the school has been most successful in working with children who have experienced this in other schools before transferring to Doreen. The culture of a smaller extended family atmosphere is imperative. Children feel they belong at Doreen, and that they are known. These are just two of the factors we believe increases their engagement, and ultimately their success. Lower dependence on "screens" is also an attractive feature for prospective parents.
Doreen is also a school that spends more time trying to provide quality experiences, rather than talking about them in documentation or on websites. Specialist classes are offered in Chinese, Phys. Ed. Art, Music and ICT, but all of these programs had to be modified in 2020. In 2020, all students took part in swimming programs, but Jets Gymnastics, Life Education, Bike Education and The Great Doreen Bike Ride all had to be cancelled due to COVID 19. There was also a Family Life Program run for grades 5&6 in term One, but the Life Education experience In 2020 the Grade 3-6 School camp was to Flinders in March. It was able to occur just before the first Remote Learning period but the Prep-2 sleepover and JSC Market was not able to occur because of Restrictions. The Chinese Program in 2020 was based around Cultural Experiences, the aim for 2021 being full implementation of a Mandarin Language program presented by a mandarin speaking teacher. Obviously COVID 19 effected all specialist programs, but they were presented in the Remote Learning format in the the school's online or collect Booklets.
Doreen Primary School students also run a Junior School Council. It aims to develop leadership skills, teamwork skills, Resilience, Role Modelling behaviours, and fosters Student Welfare Programs which involve community projects. The Junior School Council Meeting(which involves all children) often takes on Social Justice Issues. They support a little boy in Cambodia, and raise money for this. Their fundraising efforts also feed the school pet, a lizard by the name of Fudge. The Leaders of the JSC are chosen each term after elections, and are from the grade Six students. All get a turn, each student being on the JSC for one term. In 2020 this was modified so as all grade six students had a turn at Leadership. The NESST Leadership program ran only one of its 2 single day programs.
The Arts are well represented at this school. The school has several rock bands, choirs and drumming groups. These are run by the music teacher along with music tutors. The visual arts program is run by a teacher who is a practicing artist, and involves several visiting artists over the school year. The program has resulted in several school based art installations, and has extended into the ICT area with a Film Making project being run each year.
Music is also a major focus at the school with Rock Bands and Choirs performing both at school and in the Community. In 2019 the musicians performed at the St Andrews Hotel in front of 140 parents, but obviously 2020 saw this cancelled. The School Concert was also cancelled, but a Grade Six Graduation Evening replaced normal Graduation events.
Facilities over the last 5 years have been both extended and upgraded. Major projects from the past include School Funded installation of synthetic turf on the school “oval” with natural grass surrounds, retaining walls, mulch and plantings. All works were by volunteers who are experts in their field. In 2020 the BER building was painted, and the Art room had rooms set up for storage and the new kiln.
In 2020 the relationship with our Sister School in China was put on the back burner, but it will be rekindled when it can be.
During the Remote Learning Periods the school provided downloadable booklets for students that could also be ordered and collected from the school. It was decided keeping a known format that had a small drain on ICT resources of families was the best option. The booklets were coupled with YouTube clips and ZOOM meetings to support students during this time. Feedback from our community saw us increase interaction with parents and students via ZOOM, but booklets were a popular and effective way to provide the best levels of education we could to our community. 15-20 students attended each day of Remote Learning, some due to parent supervision issues, and some due to Student Welfare issues.