Q: Do families need to be Buddhist to enrol their children at the school?
No. This is not a requirement of the school – in fact, the majority of families attending the school are not practising Buddhists. It may, however, be valuable for the family to have an appreciation of the fundamental Buddhist values on which the school is founded.
– a focus on wisdom and compassion as a means to develop human potential
– ideals of loving kindness, tolerance, open-mindedness and peace-making
– the process of deep inquiry as a tool for developing the mind
– and a commitment to the ethical practice of non-harm.
Our school draws freely from these values and offers them in the spirit of spacious inquiry, as a philosophy for living. Children who attend the Daylesford Dharma School will meet representatives of the different Buddhist traditions as well as practitioners from other religious and spiritual traditions, as part of our commitment to a tolerant and harmonious multi-faith society.
Q: Will my child receive a quality academic education at an independent Buddhist philosophical primary school?
The simple answer is yes. Our programmes support the pursuit of excellence in literacy, numeracy, social studies, science and technology and conform to the Australian curriculum (the Victorian Essential Learning Standard). In our short history, our integrated, open-minded approach to education has proved to be highly effective, resulting in levels of academic achievement that exceed Australian standards.
We seek to instill the joy of learning across all subject areas and support this with an integrated curriculum that provides links between learning areas and supports the development of multiple intelligences. By providing a school environment that engages the deep creativity and reflective ability of each child, we seek to bring forth their inquiring mind and foster an engaged interest in learning where academic achievement is a natural outcome.
Q: Will my child miss out on a range of social connections by attending a smaller school?
While it is true that there is less opportunity for a wide range of same-age connections at the Dharma School than would exist at a larger school, our experience is that this is more than compensated by our culture of cross-age playing. The family feeling in the playground supports the acceptance and tolerance of individual differences and strengths and encourages more flexibility in social groupings. The flexibility of social groupings at the school is further encouraged by our multi-age class settings which support our school culture of cultivating an open hearted and accepting attitude towards others.
Q: Does the Dharma School engage in competitive sports?
Our emphasis is on supporting a school culture of co-operative game playing where skills of fair play, inclusiveness, team building and encouragement are the focus, rather than an emphasis on winning.
The joy and value of playing games and competing is encouraged to help children understand that in competition we all have the right to win. The key feature of the Dharma School’s approach is that we play with respect and appreciation for our opponents by returning to our self-awareness of our attitude to our team members and opponents. We support children to play the game in the right spirit with an expansive view, knowing that to win is great and that to lose is no drama. We include yoga, games, sports and dance within our curriculum.
Q: Does the school promote a Vegetarian diet?
To actively support our educational philosophy which recognises the interdependent nature of all life, we have chosen to adopt a vegetarian diet for children while they are at the school. This approach supports the principle of non-harm that joins us with a common bond in community. However, children (and their parents) are in no way required to commit to a vegetarian lifestyle at home. We feel that by supporting the practice of non-harm in food choices at school, we encourage discussion and reflection and the opportunity to consider cultivating compassion at a more expansive level. We invite discussion and reflection from within our school community regarding our vegetarian food policy.
Q: Does the school have scope for providing for students with special needs?
Before enrolment is accepted at the Dharma School, an interview with teaching staff and an assessment by our Special Needs Coordinator is organised. While the Dharma School supports an inclusiveness policy in its approach as an education provider, the limitations of being a small population school in a rural area with some limitations of access to resources are taken into account. The school has a commitment to forming supportive learning relationships between the student, their family and the school and exploring ways of supporting and providing for the individual needs of each student.
Q: Does the School offer a scholarship programme?
At this stage, the Dharma School does not offer a scholarship programme. However, every endeavour is made to keep the fee structure accessible for families by offering a concession level. The school is strongly connected to the local community for support in our fundraising activities to continue to enable equity of admissions.