Delving into the Dalton Difference in Fiona

Independence, Responsibility, Collaboration and Reflection, the four main pillars of the Dalton Plan, are cleverly, almost subliminally, woven into everything that happens in the Junior School. From lessons, to co-curricular activities, to the playground, the principles of the Dalton Plan aren’t taught explicitly to Junior School students, but their covert introduction helps us to prepare for our time in the Senior School. The four pillars are essential skills for life, both at School and beyond. Learning them now doesn’t just help us as students—it prepares us well for life outside of School.

In Fiona we are encouraged to take responsibility for our learning. At the beginning of each term, we define learning and personal goals as well as plan our steps to achieve them. At the end of each term, we then reflect. We consider what we have learned and achieved and identify our highlights and lowlights in preparation for setting our next goals. Reflection and responsibility are always at play.

Fiona is filled with opportunities to participate in clubs and co-curricular activities, which all involve aspects of the four Dalton Pillars. Popular examples of this are our STEAM clubs which are so much fun! Who wouldn’t want to build robots and create courses for them to be driven through? The clubs are available from Year 1 but become more intensive from Year 3. All comprise fun activities, which spark big ideas. Each term the clubs have a different topic focus, and each provides an opportunity for Fiona girls to work both collaboratively and independently.

In 2021, Year 3 students reflected on the environmental aspects in Fiona. In response, they devised a plan to install a ‘sub pod’ which was such a great idea! Essentially, the pod is a compost bin where students can contribute to growing fresh food. The girls’ involvement in this initiative is a great example of how reflection, responsibility and collaboration are fostered in Fiona, with the girls making informed decisions to ultimately benefit the wider Ascham community.

Responsibility is also evident in Fiona’s countless leadership opportunities. There are almost too many opportunities to count! More commonly known as SRC, the Student Representative Council is a great example. SRC opportunities begin in Year 3 and enable representatives to meet fortnightly to feed-forward ideas from their class that have the potential to improve our School. These improvements are amazing! Every Year 6 student is also provided a leadership opportunity as a prefect in an area of interest. Independently, we write a formal expression of interest before negotiating a role with our Head of Junior School. We then embrace the responsibilities of a leader by collaborating with our fellow prefects and teacher mentors to inspire younger students and achieve our prefect goals. Year 6 are also leaders of their Pod groups, Fiona’s unique vertical student groups. We meet in Pods fortnightly to engage in wellbeing activities capably organised and hosted by Year 6 Pod leaders.

Collaboration is the key ingredient in the numerous charity days, sporting events, musical performances and Speech and Drama showcases on the Fiona calendar. As Ms Howley, Deputy Head of Junior School is renowned for quoting, ‘teamwork makes the dream work’, and she is absolutely right. We love working as a team and we recognise the benefits of collaboration. Together we achieve great things.

As the Year 6 Writing Prefects, writing this piece has again given us the opportunity to reflect on just how many ways the Dalton Plan has already influenced our lives. We are really looking forward to putting the skills of independence, responsibility, collaboration and reflection learned in Fiona into formal practice in the Senior School. We’re sure they could be used to a great extent up there!

Grace Bathgate and Annika Jacobson, Year 6 Writing Prefects

2 Apr 2022

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