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School School 17

Victoria, Australia
Independent School and Primary School

Visited in autumn 2008, School 17 is a non-government, co-ed school with 175 students and 16 teaching staff in the Junior school. There is a senior school on a campus two blocks away. The children come from a rather homogenous, Anglo-Celtic, middle to high socioeconomic background, with parents employed in the professions who share a commitment to the school's philosophy that play and risk-taking is central to children's learning.

The school understands 'the importance of experiential learning. Children are encouraged to explore and experiment, to find their own meaning and to develop an independent voice.' This translates into a playground experience that differs from most offered in Australian primary schools. Children are encouraged to take responsibility for themselves, including responsibility for their own risk taking in activities such as climbing and cubby building. They are actively involved in decision-making. Former decisions to separate play areas by age-group have been rescinded, with students now choosing to share all play spaces.