Building Our ‘Schema’ Together

Whole School Focus Night – Building Our ‘Schema’ Together

I believe that the Whole School Focus Night is one of the most important nights for Bold Park Community School’s parents. It asks our parents to ‘stand back’ from the immediacy of engagement as a parent of ones own children within our school to see the labyrinth of wider contexts at play.

Through the work of your children, our educators and the leadership of our Pedagogista, Nicole Hunter we hope that this special night made visible the wealth of learning through a single thread in a wider tapestry that has been a point of determined focus in 2017 and has run through the entire school community … “Connectedness”


Educational author, Patricia Cross writes in Learning Is About Making Connections that ‘…learning is about making neurological, cognitive, social and experiential connections’ she highlights how ‘…the brain grows with deliberate stimulation’ and she draws reference to the critical role of the working mind’s ‘schema’. If the schema for a particular focus is sparse – then connections are hard to find and to make, whereas if the schema already has a dense network of vocabulary, terms and concepts, it is easier to make the connections that constitute learning.

De Groot tested the role of prior knowledge in learning through the use of a chess board! Chess players of different skill levels were shown the game pieces on a chessboard for a few seconds and then asked to recall the position of the pieces. The novice players were able to place only five or six pieces correctly, but the experts could recreate nearly the whole board!


When these players were shown the pieces placed randomly on the board (rather than in positions from a real game) novices and experts performed exactly the same. The conclusion that the superior performance of experienced chess players was not due to high IQ or better memories but rather that they had a well-established schema for chess.

The notion of developing our schema is so very important – it speaks on so many points in working with children and young adults; to help them develop learning platforms from which to leap into their future. Sadly, the conversation around brain science can sometimes focus only around more regimented curriculum learning rather than the wider schema we need; social interaction, emotional intelligence, well-being, rich relationships, developing identity, philosophy, physical engagement with nature, our world and others!

This is what I believe is greatly valued at BPCS – these points remind us of the validity of our choice; of the deep learning beyond curriculum embedded in projects/investigations and reflections; of the gift of play and joy and time to grow engagement above checklists; of the living philosophical pillar of mutual respect and; of the commitment of our exceptional educators who keep human relationships at the heart.

As a school, we have stated that our purpose is ‘to cultivate a community of learners who positively influence their worlds’. We are all a part of that community of learners, not just the children … we want you to understand more deeply so you can be energised in your partnership with us.

Our Whole School Focus Night asks attendees to view themselves as learners. To take what we already know about the learning journey at BPCS and to be prepared to learn some new moves! To build our schema; so we can see things differently than we did before.

To choose not to engage as a learner is to choose to merely watch the credits of a really good movie. We implore you to go deeper; to read, listen and ask. The projects we view together provide a hint of the depth of your child’s experience at Bold Park Community School, every day!


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“A school has the responsibility not only to engage their community in the pursuit of academic skills but to promote an attitude of life-long learning and thus keep the light alive in children’s eyes.”

Gillian McAuliffe

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