Statement of Philosophy & Aims

Darlingia Forest School follows an eclectic mix of alternative schooling philosophies including Democratic Education, Forest Learning, and Place-Based Education. From these philosophies we have taken three themes: Voice, Connection to Self, and Connection to People & Place. These philosophies shape how, where, and when we teach the Australian Curriculum.

We believe children need to have a voice in the decisions that affect them. This belief will be expressed through morning meetings and weekly whole-school meetings. During these meetings children will have the opportunity to practise making decisions that affect themselves and the wider school community, contributing to the rules and guidelines that form the structure and culture of the school. Children will also have opportunities to decide how they approach a topic of study, where and with whom they learn, when to take a break and how to demonstrate what they know. By allowing children to practise making decisions we aim to develop autonomy, critical thinking and communication skills.

Connection to Self
We believe children need time for self-directed play and learning. This belief will be expressed through the daily provision of self-directed time: time away from external distraction to reflect and to experience the present moment, through yoga, meditation, mindfulness, and play; or time for the pursuit of self-interests, learning about their own strengths, values, and feelings, through play or personal learning projects. Self-directed play assimilates experience, develops introspection, cultivates empathy and enhances communication. By providing children time for self-directed learning and play, we aim to develop self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and good mental health.

Connection to People and Place
We believe children need to interact with and learn about their local community and surrounding natural environment from within this community and this environment. This belief will be expressed through weekly excursions to community organisations and facilities in and around Innisfail using public resources as a starting point to learn concepts in various subjects across the curriculum; and also through our Forest School Friday program, visiting and learning about natural places such as the surrounding rainforests, swamps, mountains, mangroves and coastal areas. By using place-based pedagogy and interacting with our local surroundings we aim to develop children’s feeling of belonging and stewardship, build connections and contribute in practical ways to the quality of our community and environment.

In addition to this, at Darlingia Forest School, we aim to:

  • stimulate and encourage the learning of skills, knowledge and understanding while respecting each child’s rate and method of learning;
  • involve parents and other community members in the school life of children;
  • provide learning opportunities to children via hands-on real-life activities modelled by teachers, parents, artisans from the local community;
  • help students build connections with other children within their local community; children from other institutions and from home educated families; through participation in joint community events and workshops and Forest School Friday;
  • be a home-away-from-home, where children are free to wear what they want, staff and students are on a first name basis, books and materials are supplied, and lunch is prepared and shared together;
  • be authentic and respectful in our interactions with each other;
  • encourage positive behaviour and participation without rewards, shame, bribery or punishments;
  • model sustainability by being a low-waste school, conducting regular waste audits and implementing an acquisition policy and procedure to ensure we avoid, reduce, re-use or recycle where-ever possible; and
  • ensure that all children are provided with access to high-quality schooling that is free from discrimination based on gender, language, sexual orientation, culture, ethnicity, religion, health or disability, socioeconomic background or geographic location.