School Initiative



At school your child is learning a range of skills and abilities (which teachers refer to as key competencies) to help them do well in life. At Russley School these key competencies are embedded in the Russley Dispositions.  At home, there are many ways that parents can support their child’s development in the key competencies.

  • Managing self
  • Participating and contributing
  • Thinking
  • Relating to others
  • Using language, symbols and text

Why do key competencies matter? They matter because our world is changing.  It is no longer sufficient for students to merely acquire knowledge and master skills.  Students need opportunities to develop their capability as users of knowledge and skills in wide-ranging contexts now and in the future.

Key competencies are not just for school, but for life. Your child uses these key competencies in many situations at home, in sport, at church, at cultural occasions, and eventually in the workplace. 

Participating and contributing is embedded in the Russley Dispositions of being Respectful, Healthy and a Team Player.  This competency includes contributing to a group, making connections with others and creating opportunities for others in a group. We all enjoy participating and contributing - it makes us feel connected, and helps us get the most out of our lives.

At school, children are guided to be involved in real activities that are personal and meaningful to them. They are also challenged to be involved in things that they might not have thought of doing before. Even ‘simple’ things such as asking students to work with a wide range of classmates, guiding them to understand what makes working together successful and how they can do it even better.

Things to try at home:

  • Encourage your child to take on new challenges in different contexts and then talk about the “how to” knowledge and skills that they gain as a result.
  • Support your child when they take on leadership roles at school or in the community. This could be something as simple as being the recycling monitor for a week, looking after younger students during breaks or at a sports day, taking care of equipment or resources, speaking during an assembly.
  • Encourage your child to do small things that will help others.
  • Talk with your child about the ways other people might see issues. Help them see things from a range of different perspectives.
  • Give them increasing responsibility for tasks that will help at home. For example, feeding the cat, emptying the rubbish, setting the table or helping cook dinner.
  • You might be surprised at which parts of your knowledge and skills would be welcomed by the teachers as they work to build more “authentic’ learning for students. For example, at Russley School students are learning how to grow food. If you have gardening skills, you are likely to be able to help.

For a student, managing-self means being self-motivated, having a can-do attitude and understanding themselves as a learner. Parents can help their child develop self-management skills by:

  • Noticing and praising their child when they do chores or homework without having to be asked. This shows them that you value their spontaneous self- management.

Use praise that is linked to the action such as: 

* You tried really hard at that

* You never gave up even when it was hard

* You have such a positive attitude

* You have really improved on….

* What a creative solution to that problem

* What a great friend you are

* I love how you took ownership of that

* That was a very responsible thing you did

* I like the way you are doing…

* You really handled that situation well because..

* I appreciate how helpful you were when...

Talking about the challenges of learning, not just about what has been learned, and by demonstrating to them that you are always learning as well. Supporting and encouraging your child when the going gets tough. Be positive, and show them that you have confidence in them rather than letting them make excuses. Use the power of YET! When your child thinks they can’t do something, add the word “YET” to the end of their sentence.  “You can’t do that yet.” or “You haven’t learned that yet.”

The key competency of Thinking is embedded in the Russley Dispositions of Problem-solver, Creative and Self-aware.  Students who are effective thinkers:

  • Think flexibly
  • Use metacognition (understand their own  thought processes)
  • Apply past knowledge to new situations
  • Question and pose problems
  • Gather data through all the senses
  • Create, imagine, and innovate
  • Think inter-dependently

At school your child is encouraged to think hard about the teacher’s questions and what other students say. They are encouraged to share their thoughts and apply their thinking to new situations. Explaining and justifying is also part of this kind of ‘personal thinking.’

Thinking tools are used to help the children organise their thinking. These thinking tools can be used to help your child with their research and inquiry learning. They assist your child to use, explain and justify their thinking too.

At school we encourage “Growth Mindset” thinking, particularly with students as they take on new challenges. This is another opportunity to use the power of “YET”. When your child says they can’t do something, add ’yet’ to the end of their sentence. “You can’t do that yet,” or “you haven’t learned that yet.”

Thinking is about developing the skills that children need in today’s world.  They are using creative and critical ways of thinking to make sense of information, experiences and ideas.

Things to try at home:

  • Talk to your child about how thinking is important to make sense of everything they do at school and at home
  • Ask your child’s teacher to explain the thinking strategies they are using at school so that you can notice and reinforce them at home.  
  • Notice and praise your child when they use different sorts of thinking, like mathematical and logical thinking, or when they identify flaws in thinking (such as assuming that something is true based on too few examples).
  • Make it fun. Playful thinking is a great way of building the brain and your child’s thinking abilities. Games of all types - make-believe, imaginary friends, “what if” flights of fancy, and so on all provide opportunities for playful thinking.