Q: Do families need to be Buddhist to enroll their children at the school?
Buddhism teaches the development of wisdom and compassion as a means to develop our human potential. It embodies ideals of loving kindness, tolerance, open-mindedness and peace making. It teaches meditation techniques that enable us to understand the nature of our being through deep inquiry, as a tool for working with our mind.
Our school draws freely from these methods and wisdom and offers them in the spirit of spacious inquiry, as a philosophy for living.
A particular focus for our school community is to unite in a commitment to support the ethic practice of non-harm and reflect this in all aspects of school life. It is in support of the principle of non-harm rather than an identity as ‘Buddhist' that our school community unites.
The informing principles of Buddhism that are integrated within our curriculum include: interdependence, impermanence, actions and their consequences, and the nature of the projecting mind.
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 multifaith society.
Q: Will my child receive a quality academic education at an independent Buddhist philosophical primary school?
The Dharma School emphasises cultivating ethical development, wisdom and compassion within academic achievement. We seek to instill the joy of learning across all subject areas and support this by providing an integrated curriculum that provides links between learning areas and supports the development of multiple intelligences. Our programmes support the pursuit of excellence in literacy, numeracy, social studies, science and technology and conform to the Victorian Essential Learning Standard. 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 opportunities by attending a small school?
Our experience at the Dharma School is that any potential lack of social opportunity is compensated for by the playground 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?
We include yoga, games, sports and dance within our curriculum.
There is an emphasis on supporting a school culture of co-operative game playing where skills of fair play, inclusiveness, team building and encouragement are the focus.
The joy and value of playing games and competing is encouraged as we instill the philosophy to understand that in competition we all have the right to win. The important feature in 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.
Q: Does the school promote a Vegetarian diet?
Our educational philosophy recognises the interdependent nature of all life. This inspires the principle of non-harm that joins us with a common bond in community. We strive to see all other beings as being worthy of our compassion and equanimity. It is this view that guides our school to adopt the approach of a vegetarian food policy at the school. 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?
In 2009 the Dharma School did not have a scholarship programme in place.
Every endeavor is made to keep the fee structure accessible for its families by offering a concession level. The School is strongly connected to its school and local community for support in its fundraising and operational structures to continue to enable equity of admissions.