“Be prepared to reach beyond your comfort zone, because that’s where the magic happens.”
That’s the advice from St Peter’s Woodlands Principal Helen Finlay to Year 6 students preparing to take on the school’s innovative new DARE Diploma in 2022.
Encouraging students to ‘dream, achieve, reach and experience’, the DARE Diploma will see the students embark on a unique learning pathway where they’ll be challenged not only against the Australian Curriculum, but they’ll also be tasked with developing essential life skills, and resilience and independence.
“I wanted to develop a program that was quite different and bespoke for us and linked to the attributes of a St Peter’s Woodlands learner — setting our Year 6 students up for secondary schooling and beyond,” Ms Finlay said.
“I’m really excited about the character development opportunities for the students, and to see them step out of their comfort zone.”
A “truly unique” opportunity
The DARE program Graduate Diploma is a 12 month experiential learning program made up of a series of learning activities completed at home as well as the school.
The program is focussed on developing seven key areas: curiosity, confidence, collaboration, communication, creativity, commitment and craftsmanship through eight key learning areas which include wellbeing and grit, life lessons, spirituality and service and a passion project.
“To learn, you try, and you fail, many times before you try and succeed”, Ms Finlay said.
“So, resilience and grit are important, as well as the ability to self-motivate, especially when the students will be working on their passion project.”
The Passion Project will see students select a topic or subject which inspires them and create a project which spans their entire year teaching them project management, stakeholder management and presentation skills.
When it comes to Life Skills, students will create healthy (and helpful) habits around the home and in their day-to-day life such as household chores, bed-making, bedroom cleaning, school lunch making, meal preparation and so much more.
“It’s been received very well by parents, they’re very excited,” Ms Finlay said.
“These kids will be making their own bed, contributing to chores – that’s any parents dream, right?!”
And as for the rest of the program, Ms Finlay said she was particularly excited to see the children focus on Service, which is another of the core learning areas.
“I’m also excited for the service part of the program,” she said.
“We know the greatest benefit of serving is actually received by those who serve, it’s so good for our mental health … I’m really looking forward to getting the students out and about and learning about how good it feels.”
Ms Finlay said the idea for the program was inspired by a similar program run in New South Wales where “children undertake a variety of activities to build them as citizens, and develop attributes like resilience and critical thinking.”
But as for South Australia, Ms Finlay said the program was truly unique.
“The children will still be following the Australian Curriculum throughout the course of the year, some components of the DARE program form part of the Australian Curriculum, whereas some sit alongside,” she explained.
Inspirational explorer launching program
In order to inspire the students ahead of their DARE Graduate Diploma challenge, St Peter’s Woodlands will have Australian explorer Tim Jarvis (who recreated Shackleton’s Journey) launch the program.
“He’s amazing,“ Ms Finlay said.
“The leadership it took for him to do that will be really inspirational for the children to listen to.”
And the children’s connection to Mr Jarvis won’t end there, with plans for them to work with him on his One-Tree project on the Fleurieu Peninsula later in the year.
So how will the DARE Graduate Program’s success be measured?
“It will be chatting to the children and hearing about their personal growth, and the skills they’ll take forward into secondary school and into life,” Ms Finlay said.
“That’s the real stuff, that’s what we’re wanting.”
Visit the DARE Graduate Diploma page on our website for more information.
If you’d like to learn more about the range of unique learning opportunities at St Peter’s Woodlands, or take a tour of our school, contact Jo Gray, Enrolments Manager.