Oak and Orca programs inspire learners of all ages to meet their potential. Through wholistic learning experiences, learning is a joy whether at home or on site. Inquiry is key; kids do it naturally! Supporting adults just need to follow their lead, gently guide them, and lend them a hand along the way. Oak and Orca will help your child learn in this natural way, offering teachers and resources to support inquiry learning and to inspire the same learning processes that were in play when your child was learning to speak or to walk.
We provide guidance from a distance for home-learners and in the classroom for our on-site students. No two people learn the same, so why ask them to? Through independent learning experiences, projects, targeted skills practice, and hands-on activities, children can learn at their own pace and in their own way.
~ Empowering children to build more fulfilling and ecologically sustainable communities. ~
"The crisis cannot be solved with the same kind of education that helped create the problems."
At Oak and Orca's first graduation ceremony in 2014, Principal and founder, Kara Woodcock, presented founder, Jim Prentice, with an honorary diploma for his contributions to the school and its community.
In 1999, Jim had retired from a life in higher education as a physics professor and was looking for a new challenge. He helped found Oak and Orca School that year and, as a volunteer mentor, Jim inspired children and adults alike to learn together about both teaching and learning. He had a vision to trust the children and to steadily support them as they learned and grew. While others transitioned in and out of the school community, Jim was a constant through Oak and Orca's early years. He cycled up the hill to school every day asking "What shall we learn today?" Through his most patient and gentle guidance, children did learn, and so did Jim.
Learning is messy. Natural learning doesn't follow neat routines or organised methods. Rather, natural learning takes its own path with bends, switchbacks, and forks. Sometimes the only route is up, but, with a bit of guidance, natural learning will take you all the way to where you want to go, or maybe to where you least expect it!
The Oak and Orca OL program, Hands-On Home-Learning, offers ungraded elementary and inquiry-based high school programming and provides flexibility, honouring a variety of home learning approaches, while maintaining a core value of child-centred learning. Keeping the child's needs as paramount, the teacher and parent work together to provide opportunities and experiences allowing each child to make age-appropriate decisions and choices to make their learning personally relevant. Oak and Orca's role as a OL school is to support families with encouragement of each child's unique learning path and with awareness of each family's unique home-learning experience.
At the high school level, students will take a fully active role in their education. Coursework is designed by planning experiences and inquiry projects. Working with a mentor, students plan their learning experiences to meet their objectives and learning goals. They plan projects based on interests and join in with community experiences where appropriate. Where ministry learning standards are not met by interest-based experiences, mentors help to design assignments to complete courses and meet learning goals.
Oak and Orca also offers blended learning options for families in our OL program living in Victoria including 1-2 days per week on-site at Oak and Orca and a bioregional forest school.
Blended learning is any opportunity where home-learning is paired with a group or classroom experience. We offer several blended options for children wanting to meet together for learning opportunities as part of their home-learning experience. Many students choose to attend Oak and Orca School one or two days per week and pursue home-learning experiences the rest of the week. A few students attend four days and home-learn on the fifth day.
On-site options at Oak and Orca range from Kindergarten through grade 12. The school uses child-centred learning and bioregional education to encourage students to be strong, confident, self-directed learners with an interest in sustainable communities. Our mission is to empower children to create fundamental social change towards more fulfilling and ecologically sustainable communities. Students aged 5 through 19 learn together in multi-age groups within a small school atmosphere.