Clifton Hill Primary School

Excellence in Education



Students in the garden

At Clifton Hill Primary School we provide students with rich, varied and rigorous experiences that explore the natural and social world in which they live. Where appropriate, we employ an integrated approach to learning, where natural links are made between subjects. Often referred to as 'Integrated Studies', this knowledge and understanding is taken from the AusVels content areas of Science, History, Geography, Economics, Civics and Citizenship and Health. The content of these subjects can be explored through the Ausvels process areas of English, Mathematics, Design, Creativity and Technology, Information and Communication Technology, Thinking and the Arts.

Students are encouraged to build knowledge and understanding about a range of fundamental and powerful concepts that underpin each topic of study. These concepts include natural and societal systems, change, identity, power, sustainability, discovery and creativity. Students explore each 'big idea' several times during their time at primary school, examining its core concepts through a variety of areas of study. For example, students investigate 'societal systems' as a core concept through the study of Marvellous Melbourne in Year 3, The Media in Year 4 and Australia's Systems of Governance in Year 6. In each unit, students develop responses to significant and essential questions that provoke consideration of the world around them.

In order to provide learning experiences that engage and extend students with a diverse range of interest and abilities, teachers at Clifton Hill Primary strive to differentiate the learning and students are encouraged and supported to investigate areas of interest and share their learning in a variety of ways.

At present, Victorian schools are moving from Victorian Essential Learning Standards (VELS) to a National Australian Curriculum. Elements of the National Curriculum being progressively developed and are used in conjunction with existing VELS subjects (AusVels). The AusVels Foundation to Year 10 curriculum guides schools when planning learning programs. It includes the domains of 'Physical, Personal and Social Learning', 'Discipline-Based Learning' and 'Interdisciplinary Learning'. Embedded in these learning areas are the Cross-curriculum priorities of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures, Asia and Australia's engagement with Asia and Sustainability. Further details can be found at

Specialist programs

In addition to our classroom curriculum, students participate in a range of specialist programs offered by expert teachers. These include Music, Visual Arts, Physical Education and LOTE (Languages other than English).


The Performing Arts program focuses on music. The school has an excellent music room equipped with many classroom instruments such as marimbas, xylophones, drum kit, pianos, electric guitar, bass guitar and ukuleles.

Our music teacher Roz Girvan is trained in the Orff approach to music education. This approach encourages children to make music through speech, singing, body percussion and the use of classroom instruments such as xylophones and recorders. In the latter years of primary school, Roz encourages students to incorporate into the class ensemble the skills that they have learned through private lessons on other instruments. This may include students who play piano, guitar, violin, saxophone, clarinet or drums (we have even had an oboe!).

There are many performing arts occasions during our school year including

  • a folk dance for Prep and Grade One
  • end of semester music assemblies where grades and music groups perform
  • an Art and Music Show where the artwork of various grades is displayed and the extracurricular music groups perform
  • a school production or concert (These vary each year — some are held in the Multi Purpose Room at school, and others at the Clock Tower Theatre in Essendon. Some productions have had music and songs written by the students; others focus on a musical theme such as Latin America or The Beatles.)
  • a Christmas concert at school for Grades Prep/One and Two

In addition to these special occasions, Roz leads the school in communal singing at the end of our fortnightly assemblies.

Excursions and Incursions

As part of the performing arts program, all students participate in an excursion or incursion each year.

  • In Grade Prep, One and Two students participate in an OZ Opera incursion.
  • In grade 3 students travel into the city by train to see the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra
  • In grade 4 students travel to the Arts Centre to see the Australian Ballet
  • In grades 5 and 6 a different performing arts experience is chosen each year such as a marimba incursion with Jon Maddin, a trip to the Victorian Opera, or a comedy performance incursion based on the themes of Australian History.

The aim of this part of the curriculum is that the students will be exposed to a range of performing arts experiences.

Extracurricular Music Opportunities

In addition to classroom music there are also a number of extracurricular music opportunities at CHPS. These include:

Open to all students from grade 2 — 6, our choir has a mixed repertoire of popular and folk songs. It performs at assemblies and special occasions.
Grade 6 Girls Singing group
Open to all girls in grade 6, this group focuses on a repertoire of pop songs.
String Ensemble
Our string ensemble is open to all students who have been learning violin, viola or cello for 12months or more. The ensemble is directed by Ross Henderson, our school violin teacher and tackles a varied repertoire. There is no fee.
African Drumming Ensemble
Guinean master artist Mohamed Camara provides ensemble classes on a term by term basis. Students who participate will perform at special occasions such as school productions, the Fair and special assemblies. (Cost = $12.00 per class.)

Private Music Tuition

Private lessons are provided onsite at Clifton Hill Primary School with a range of instruments on offer. Please contact teachers directly to ascertain availability.

Visual Arts

The Visual Arts program stimulates interest in and gives children practical first hand experience with a wide variety of tools, techniques and art materials in the areas of painting, drawing, threads and textiles, modelling and construction. Each art experience challenges students to progressively develop and extend their present level of artistic knowledge and skills. Opportunities are provided for children to appreciate art. Children are encouraged to share their art ideas and work with others. Displays are an important aspect of developing art appreciation.

Physical Education

All students participate in regular Physical Education sessions planned and delivered by a specialist Physical Education teacher. The Physical Education Program emphasises skill development and enjoyment focusing on gymnastics, ball skills, fitness, dance, sport education, major and minor games.

The School competes with other schools at Grade Five and Six levels as part of the Inner North District Primary Sports Association. The Winter sports program is in second term (Soccer, Football, Netball, Basketball and Tee Ball) and the Summer Sports Program is in fourth term (Kanga Cricket, Rounders, Basketball, Newcomb and Bat Tennis). The school conducts swimming trials (early first term), cross-country trials (end of first term) and athletics trials (throughout third term). Successful students compete in District, Zone and State championships.

An intensive swimming program is offered for Prep to Grade two students. Prep students also participate in a Perceptual Motor Program.


The school's official LOTE is French. All students from Grade Prep - 6 are offered French. Preps are provided with 60 minutes of French and other year levels receive at least 80 minutes per week.

The program's main goal is 'critical fluency' i.e. getting students to be able to effectively, even if simply, communicate in French. To achieve this we use the following teaching techniques and foci:

  1. Gestures: Words are kinesthetically, auditorially and visually presented through speech and gesture simultaneously so students learn to see (word and visual symbol) and feel the language as well as hear it.
  2. Simplified, focused language choice: The words targeted for presentation are selected according to frequency, function and ease of acquisition. This target vocabulary places a high emphasis on verbs with a general focus on mimicking the way we learn our first language.
    Use of Dance, Song and Drama means students can 'hide' behind characters and be more spontaneous. A physically active program suits many learning styles. Nearly all language activities are designed in and around the unit's main story.
  4. Language Manipulation Activities (written and oral)
    There is an equal and strong emphasis on the four disciplines of reading, writing, listening and speaking, although at first the emphasis is more heavily on oral and aural activities. Students then begin language manipulation activities in written form and progress to more open writing tasks.
  5. Transfer of knowledge into spontaneous interaction and creative writing
    As the students become more proficient in the language the aim is to allow them more opportunities for spontaneous interactions and creative writing.


Some parents of children at CHPS have expressed an interest in their children also learning an Asian language. The academic literature shows that languages are much more successfully learned at a young age and that language learning has benefits in other subjects. Mandarin is the world's most widely spoken mother tongue. We have two Mandarin teachers, Cindy Zhang and Kevin Yang, who offer a variety of classes, once or twice a week, in school or out of school time, to both beginners and students who have had some experience. Students can be excused from class in order to attend Mandarin lessons. At this stage the cost is borne by parents, but is modest. As Mandarin is an official school language, a child studying Mandarin may be able to make a curriculum claim to a government secondary school teaching Mandarin. Contact Geoff Warren if you are interested in your child commencing classes.